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Author: Jessica Pryde

Midseason Finales Got You Down? Try These Readalikes for the CW Fall Lineup!

The fall lineup on The CW has been running for a couple of months now, and we are finally getting used to some familiar faces while we get accustomed to lots of new ones as well.  Century-old intrigue, new secret facilities, fallen angels and some old-fashioned family drama are surprising us at every turn.  Even if you don’t watch every show on the Network of Beautiful People, we all feel a little connection to the network for the plethora of stories it’s told over the years.  If you’re a fan, there are a certain group of “types” you might have in regards to your kind of fiction.  You might love the supernatural, or have an affinity for people who kick a little ass. So let’s take the time to check out a few pages–new and old–that can act as alternative entertainment as we approach that time: holiday hiatus.

12971637Hollyweird by Terri Clark.  In this lighthearted comedy, a blue-eyed fallen angel must protect a young girl who has just won a trip to meet a TV star.  This Hollywood heartthrob, who on his show drives around in a classic car killing monsters in every state, is actually the son of the devil!  Written by a Supernatural fan, this novel has all the in-jokes you could ever want, on top of a funny and adorable story in its own right.  (I’ll be honest: it was actually this book that spurred me to watch Supernatural, as I’d been afraid by that point that I would never catch up–then after reading it I decided to do what I could to make it so!)

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Superman on its Head: Extracanonical Stories in Superman Graphic Novels

superman logoIt should be no surprise to anyone who has read one of my posts that I love it when authors give me familiar stories in a new form. I even help write a regular feature about classic novels being updated into contemporary stories. But what excites me even more is when they go beyond a simple pastiche and flip as many things as possible into a story that is still familiar, but unpredictable in its progress.

We see this trend happening pretty often in prose fiction, and I love it, but I am nothing short of ecstatic when I find a new superhero story like this. In the Marvelverse, it was Neil Gaiman’s Marvel: 1602. But here, now, we’re going to talk about that flying guy on all our minds this summer: Superman.

Whether or not we’ve ever picked up a comic, most of us know the story of Superman. First appearing in comics in the late 1930s, Superman was the ultimate immigrant — an alien — who used his extraterrestrial powers in order to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. He’s been developed, recreated, and reiterated so many ways over the past eighty years, but some of my favorites have been the ones that divert from canon in unexpected ways.

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From Classic to Contemporary: Romeo and Juliet to Warm Bodies

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Miller and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

The Classic:  William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

romeo and juliet folger shakespeare library coverBy the time you’re in high school, you’ve probably been overexposed to this story and all the literary analysis that goes with it. You’ve seen both the Franco Zeffirelli film from 1968 and the Baz Luhrmann one starring a much younger Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, and Paul Rudd. And there’s another version slated to be released later this year in the UK, adapted by Downton Abbey favorite Julian Fellowes. If for some reason, you’ve never read it — not even the Wishbone version — here’s the breakdown.*

There are two families in Verona, a town in Italy (where Shakespeare set most of his plays. There’s a lot of talk about how he stole a bunch of these stories from Italian stories, but we’ll save that for another day). These families, the Montagues and the Capulets, and all of their servants, friends, and allies, have been at each other’s throats for as long as anyone can remember. When we enter the story, the violence between the youths of the families has escalated to the point where the Prince of the city has had to intervene.

Meanwhile, some of the Montague cousins (and family friend Mercutio) have discovered that the Capulets are having a party and decide to crash. They implore Romeo, the son of the Montague patriarch, to join them. He’s lovesick over some girl named Rosaline — whom we never see — and reluctantly decides to go. There, he sees and immediately falls for Juliet, who, it turns out, is the daughter of the Capulet patriarch. Much drama ensues, confusion prevails, and what everyone in 1597 thought was going to end up like a comedy (well, what they thought if they weren’t listening to the prologue) ends in tragedy and death.

The Contemporary: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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Races in Reverse: A Revisit

Almost six months ago, I wrote a post about race in YA literature. While I covered a few different points, one was the (at the time recent) release of the novel Revealing Eden, which many compared to the previously published Naughts & Crosses. I hadn’t read either in their entirety, though I did read a preview of each book before writing the post.

Last month, I discovered a new series (The Cambion Chronicles) that also dealt with race, and it reminded me about the aforementioned books. I decided to read each to see if the comparisons were fair and to better understand how each dealt with issues of race in worlds where the dark-skinned people are the majority.

Cover of Revealing EdenI decided to read Revealing Eden first. The first order of business here was to completely suspend reality for a moment. Knowing what the subject matter was, I knew to read it with an entirely separate universe in my mind. Instead of considering Pearls and Coals human, from this Earth, with true Black and White race relations involved, I consider the novel a fantasy — with a vast majority of a species with darker skin being the oppressive rulers of this world.

Once I placed myself into this mindset, Eden’s position was much easier to swallow. She, a member of an oppressed race, must cover her skin and hair to look more like her oppressors in order to survive in their world, which has been forced underground as a result of devastating surface damage to their planet (which is Earth, according to Eden, but as mentioned before, I’m reading it as off-world fantasy). Never is it clearly mentioned what the surface damage is, or what has caused it — and there’s a really big plot point that involves this question and really confuses me.

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From Classic to Contemporary: Wuthering Heights to Catherine

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Miller and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

The Classic: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!

wuthering heights emily bronte coverWhether in the voice of Laurence Olivier, Tom Hardy, or someone in-between, you’ve likely heard this soundbyte before. It is an exclamation made part way into Wuthering Heights by the passionate Heathcliff. Taken into the Earnshaw family at a very young age, Heathcliff, misunderstood and angry at the world, can’t help loving his adopted sister Catherine. But if there’s one thing Wuthering Heights tells us, it’s that love doesn’t make everything okay. There’s no fun in this huge, dysfunctional family affair. Much like one of those reality TV shows, Wuthering Heights is impossible to turn away from, just so you can find out what any of these hateful, miserable people across two generations might do to make their lives and the lives of those around them even worse. But it doesn’t all end in tragedy, which is perhaps what doesn’t leave you completely despairing of the potential for humankind.

I’m not sure if that’s what Emily Bronte wanted me to get out of it, what with Catherine and Heathcliff’s passionate, immortal love; but I couldn’t find any redemption in this novel without reading it with Heathcliff as less anti-hero and more villain.

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“…But I know it when I see it”: Science fiction in today’s strange world

isaac asimovYesterday, January 2, was National Science Fiction Day. It’s not an official day, but who cares! It’s Isaac Asimov‘s birthday, and therefore an excellent day to acknowledge the marvel that is science fiction.

What is science fiction?

People say a lot of things about science fiction — the general consensus is that its lack of true definition is what defines it. In my own mental organization, I put it into two completely made-up and semi-useless categories: earth-based sci-fi and space-based sci-fi. Think The Matrix vs. Star Wars. Within these categories, you can find numerous sub-categories, rubbing the line with post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, as well as other forms of speculative fiction like gaslamp, alternate history, steampunk, cyberpunk, and so many others that I’m just going to send you to the science fiction Wikipedia page.

What’s going on with it now?

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From Classic to Contemporary: Christmas Edition

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Miller and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

Image of Penguin Classic edition of A Christmas CarolThe Classic: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

We’ve all encountered this story some kind of way, even if we’ve never read the novel. Maybe you grew up watching one of the old films or discovered it through the new animated one with Jim Carrey as the voice of Scrooge. I grew up watching Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol at least once a year. And who doesn’t love the Doctor Who episode (sadly not a Christmas Special) featuring Charles Dickens?

I recently decided to bite the bullet and sit myself down to read the original source material. And I’m glad I did. Here’s what I can tell you.

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The Next Big Retelling: Gothic Novels

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.

We’re all pretty familiar with retellings of classic stories; Pride and Prejudice took up a great deal of the second half of the 2000s, from Enthusiasm to Prom & Prejudice. Then fairy tales became huge, with authors like Alex Flinn producing awesome tales like Beastly, A Kiss in Time, and Cloaked. And that’s not to mention the resurgence and reprinting of stories by Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine. But the past couple of years have shown us the start of a new Big Thing: the retelling of Gothic novels.

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Not Yet Postracial: a moment from the fourth wall

A lot of what we write here on The Hub is more about the actual literature we find ourselves reading than about any visceral, gut-wrenching reaction to big issues. But we in the YA world have found ourselves surrounded by nation- and worldwide reactions to a couple of very big issues, both regarding race. Here’s the rundown.

Cover of Revealing EdenIn October of last year, Victoria Foyt, who had already published a relatively popular YA fantasy novel in 2007, released her newest concept: Revealing Eden, the first book in her new dystopian series, Save the Pearls. In this novel, Eden Newman, a “Pearl,” is about to turn eighteen, at which point she must be mated lest she be sent to the surface to die from the Heat. Many other Pearls have offered to mate with her, but shedd rather die than mate with another Pearl. She wants to mate with a Coal, a member of the darker-skinned ruling majority who, according to Eden, hate Pearls. Secretly, she is dating Jamal, a Coal who also turns into a beastlike creature. She calls him her “Dark Prince.”

Eden hates herself. She considers herself ugly and unwanted and goes through the world wearing “Midnight Luster” to mask her blonde hair and pale skin and “pass” for a Coal. She’ll do anything in her power to survive, but she also wants to feel loved and beautiful. If you mix this with a lot of societal secrets and even turn her family against her, what will you get?

Well, apparently, you get a lot of backlash from your readership.

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From Classic to Contemporary: Shakespeare to Modern Movie Retellings

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Miller and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

This summer, we decided it would be great fun to tackle the movie versions of many of the classics that show up on summer reading lists. In researching classics that had been retold in movie format, we actually found enough to break it down into two posts! So this month, we decided to focus on one of history’s greatest authors: the Bard, William Shakespeare. With love stories that have inspired millions and revenge tales that resonate in every culture, it is no wonder that Hollywood has chosen to rework his epic tales again and again.

Some great examples that will make for fun viewing this summer:

The Classic: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

A young prince of Denmark must deal with intrigue in the Court after he is visited by the ghost of his father requesting that he avenge his murder. Along with the ever-present threat of invasion; ridiculousness from his two lackeys, Rosencrantz and Gildenstern; and serious relationship issues with his new fiancee Ophelia, Hamlet has a lot to deal with. Here’s where you get the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy, guys.

The Contemporary: Disney’s “The Lion King”

Did you ever realize that The Lion King is a reimagining of Hamlet set in the Animal Kingdom? An “Uncle” who has bumped off the current king and stepped into his position of power … a young prince determined to regain his proper place and to save his mother and people from a power-hungry ruler … complete with award-winning songs and heart-warming lion cub cuteness!

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