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Author: Erin Daly

Update: The Mortal Instruments Movie Franchise

mortalinstrumentsmovieComparing books and movie adaptations is always an interesting activity. I tend to think of movies as a kind of fan art, where you get to see your fictional friends and their worlds in beautiful big-screen detail. This helps me adjust my expectations about nuances of character and plot that are often absent in adaptations. While many fans say they would be happy to watch a six hour miniseries of their favorite book, this would not be practical for a movie studio to attempt. A good adaptation captures the spirit of the original. And what is the spirit of the original if not a vast gray area ripe for debate?

I set out to write a post about teen reactions to the recent City of Bones movie based on Cassandra Clare’s 2008 Teens’ Top Ten winning novel of the same name. For a movie review, check out Katie Shanahan’s post here.

The few fans I talked to described their experiences with the movie as involving a lot of yelling afterwards. Why so angry? Didn’t Lily Collins make a great Clary? Didn’t those demons look scary and cool? Wasn’t the Institute huge and full of Shadowhunter details?  Yeah, yeah, yeah– but they messed up the plot.

As for the rest of the teens I talked to, they didn’t see the movie.


Middle Grade Highlights from BEA

middle grade pileAttending Book Expo America is a massive spectacle that never fails to inspire. Of my pile of free books and advance reading copies this year, obtained based on my entirely unscientific wanderings about the exhibit hall, about half of them are middle grade. This age group has been on my mind this year, as I look at youth services as a department and think about continuous services to youth from elementary, through middle, to high school. Middle grade has some great titles for younger teens, reluctant readers, and those who are looking for books with a little less romance and violence. These upcoming offerings are largely on the high-action, wacky humor end of the spectrum, with just a few that promise quieter character-driven stories.


June is Audiobook Month!

photo by me, thanks to teens, Laura & Tiffany for holding up their headphones.
photo by Erin Daly; thanks to teens Laura & Tiffany for holding up their headphones.

June is the month the Audio Publishers Association has set aside to celebrate the format and encourage new listeners to try an audiobook. We celebrated last year on The Hub with this post, linking some great articles about the joys of listening to books.

YALSA celebrates audiobooks every year with the Odyssey Award and the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults list. The Odyssey Award is a joint award with ALSC given to the best audiobook produced for children or young adults. This year’s winner was The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green, read by Kate Rudd, and produced by Brilliance Audio. The Amazing Audiobooks list is one of YALSA’s annual selection lists and includes both fiction and nonfiction with a selected top ten. The variety included here ensures that anyone in search of a book to listen to will surely find one that they will enjoy.

Another great way to celebrate the audiobook with a variety of titles is with Sync: YA literature into your earphones, a summer initiative that kicked off at the end of May. 

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Ouran High School Host Club: Character Readalikes

ouranhs1I’m reading manga again. It’s the New Year, and I keep resolving to read more manga in the hopes of keeping up with the manga fans at my library. I also find that reading comics seems to help me get out of the reading slump that happens after a beautiful book breaks my heart a little.

I picked up Ouran High School Host Club because all eighteen volumes were back on the shelf after a long time circulating. I just finished book nine and halfway seems like a fine place to recommend this funny shojo romance. Ouran High School is a lavish private school where the students are rarely seen studying. The Host Club boys entertain Ouran’s idle girls with flirtation, tea, and coordinated cosplay outfits. In the first volume, Haruhi Fujioka, a poor scholarship student who looks like a boy with her easy-to-manage short hair and inexpensive sweater, stumbles into what she believes is a disused music room looking for a quiet place to study. There she discovers the Host Club, and in her confusion she breaks an antique vase. Because she cannot pay for it, it is decided she will work off her debt by joining the club, continuing to pose as a boy. Each of the club members has a crush on her to some degree, and situations continue to arise that might expose Haruhi’s secret. The tone of the manga is at times so over-the-top that it becomes a parody of itself and all things shojo. The juxtaposition between this silliness and the genuine affection between the characters makes up much of its appeal.

Each of the members of the Host Club are their own exaggerated type. So, I decided to create a list of readalikes, or perhaps crushalikes, based on the characters. Bear in mind that the Ouran characters in these instances are more exaggerated than the comparison characters.


A Wordle for 2012’s Best Teen Fiction

I really enjoy the visual impact a word cloud makes. A quick glance gives you the main idea of a bunch of data and a bit more study lets you see the details. I was so impressed with this word cloud I found at the end of last year that I tracked down the person who made it and asked if we could feature it on The Hub. This year, I decided to make my own Wordle, featured above, including a wider variety of end of the year lists chosen based on those lists that I encountered during my typical wanderings around the Internet and that would influence my collection development choices. The variety of lists I included gives this cloud some density, bringing together a large selection of the best and most talked about books of the year. Clearly the title that is overwhelmingly on everyone’s mind this year is The Fault in Our Stars. Click the image for a bigger, more sharable version.

Information on the lists I used is included after the jump.


Three Unconventional Jane Austen Adaptations

In one of my first posts on The Hub, I mentioned that I enjoy the notion of synchronicity. If you hear about something over and over from seemingly unrelated sources, it’s worth making a connection. Once three similar things get my attention, they begin to coalesce. Here’s my latest occurrence: Jane Austen, outside the box.

Jane Austen adaptations are ubiquitous, and a lot of them are pretty similar. This is not really a bad thing. The stories are captivating and the characters are familiar enough to feel like family. Curiosity about which particular details each adaptation will highlight is enough to intrigue me into almost any version of an Austen story. These, however, are something more.

Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars is a science fiction story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The fact of this alone is intriguing. The execution is a balanced blend of original and adapted ideas, science fiction world building and heart-wrenching romance.

The apocalypse in this world was caused by genetic experimentation. In the generations since the Reduction, much of the human population is reduced in intellect, while a class of technology abstaining Luddites rules. In recent years, Post-Reductionists, normal children born to the Reduced, are coming into being. Elliot, the daughter of a Luddite plantation owner, exchanged letters from the age of six with Kai, the son of a mechanic. They fell in love as young teens, and Kai asked Elliot to run away with him. Elliot said no. She could not leave the plantation’s inhabitants to her uncaring father’s whims. For four years, Elliot has done her duty despite her broken heart.

When the Cloud Fleet comes to rent her family’s land for ship building, they bring Captain Malakai Wenforth along with their unprejudiced ideas about technology. Kai has changed so much — time and heartbreak have pushed him far away from Elliot — but their chemistry is undeniable. Each chapter begins with letters between Elliott and Kai from when they were younger, giving context to the depth of their relationship and their world. The bulk of the story is narrated by Elliot, allowing the reader to closely follow her range of emotions at having Kai in her life again, while leaving Kai’s feelings and motives mysterious. In addition to borrowing their delayed love story, Peterfreund’s characters borrow their names from Austen’s Anne Elliot and Frank Wentworth. As Elliot struggles over her feelings for Kai, her people struggle between the safety of tradition and the risk of scientific experimentation. Peterfreund is writing another book set in this world. Across a Star-Swept Sea, due to come out next year, takes its inspiration from The Scarlet Pimpernel.

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The Next Big Thing in SciFi: More Like Fringe

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

During a bit of downtime during a teen program last summer, I pulled out my laptop to show the group the trailer for the upcoming final season of “Fringe.” I knew some of the people in the room were fans — a couple of the girls and I have often discussed the attractive merits of Peter Bishop — but the great things about “Fringe” go beyond a mysterious man in a pea coat.

It has science (the believable sort and the totally crazy sort), complex character relationships, and an air of suspense where you know at any second the rules of its fictional world could change. One particularly major change was the revelation that a parallel universe existing in tandem with our own was home to alternate versions of familiar characters. The collision of these two worlds and a war between them caused many strange occurrences. The survival of both universes hinged on the actions of Olivia Dunham and Peter Bishop, each with their own extraordinary connections to the parallel worlds. For its final season, the show has changed again, leaping forward into a dystopic future where humans are ruled by the mysterious bald-headed Observers. Now the “Fringe team will have to save the world from this new threat. In addition to its apocalyptic storylines, “Fringe” also has some excellent non sequitur zaniness, usually in the form of Walter Bishop’s inappropriately-timed sugar cravings. I lamented at the time that I couldn’t think of a single readalike that I could recommend to fans of the show.

Then, like the Observers, they began to appear: books with parallel worlds, speculative science, and world-changing storylines. Could “Fringe” read-alikes be the next big thing in science fiction for young adults?

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Witchy Books for Fall

Crisp mornings and the first tinges of color on the leaves are heralding the fall in my New England town. Tomorrow is the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall. Equinoxes come twice a year, now and in the spring, when the length of the day and night are equal. For pagan folks, the autumnal equinox is also known as Mabon, a celebration of the bounty of the harvest. With harvest festivals, falling leaves, and Halloween just around the corner, there’s magic in the air that puts me in the mood to read about witches. Not so much the wicked witches, but the earthy ones who are connected to the land and in tune with the spirits.

Maggie Stiefvater’s new book, The Raven Boys, is perfect for this time of year. Blue Sargent was raised by a family of witches and told from a young age that she would kill her true love with a kiss. Consequently, Blue pretty much stays away from boys. Especially Raven Boys, the snobby rich boys who attend the Aglionby Academy.

Aglionby student Gansey has dedicated his life to searching for the tomb of the Welsh King Owen Glendower. No price is too steep for information about Glendower. Gansey comes from a wealthy family; he can afford it.  Along for the ride on Gansey’s quest are Adam, the scholarship student, and Rowan, the troubled one. These three Raven Boys are hunting traces of the supernatural along local ley lines.

Chance meetings draw Blue into their sphere, where she becomes compelled by the legend of Glendower, the strange places it takes them, and the connections to the magic in her own life it suggests. With vivid characters, the suspense of a thriller, and an air of magic that is both beautiful and eerie, this is a very compelling book. The first of a promised series, it will leave you wanting more. Watch the book trailer with art and music by the author.

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Reacting to NPR’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels

I can’t seem to go three posts on a social network this week without hearing something about NPR’s list, Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels. Reactions to the list have been largely critical ranging from: “How dare you fail to include my favorite book?” to “I can’t believe they ranked that popular book above that more literary book!” I think a bit of an uproar is a good thing. It means we’ve all got great teen books on our minds. But lists are tricky things. They are neither perfect nor permanent. They are informed by their time and their criteria and by the people involved in choosing what ended up there — in this case mostly fans of NPR or folks who found their way to the polls through some other channel. Lists have a great many uses, but what’s best is always changing.

Here are some interesting numbers.*

  • 59 of the books listed were written by female authors.
    42 of the books listed were written by male authors.
    David Levithan (male) and Rachel Cohn (female) collaborated on Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which is why there is a discrepancy in the math. While female authors do tend to lead in the YA field, the male authors on this list are relatively close to equally represented.