If you’re reading this, then you’re probably not surprised at the continued popularity of dystopian literature or the many subgenres within it. Why are readers drawn to a dark post-apocalyptic future or the natural disasters with climate-fiction (cli-fi)? The appeal of these plots attracts a readership that spans generations. Others are quick to judge those of us over the age of 18 that love dystopian literature and cli-fi but overlook the joy and positive elements to these plots: the hope in dystopian. The dystopian genre is more than The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner and as grateful as I am to movies turning kids onto reading books they have also generalized this vast genre and created a stereotype of both this genre’s plots and their readers.
Yes, these books are overly dramatic at times and incredibly unrealistic most of the time, but beyond the angst and youthful revolution mentality, one underlying message reoccurs – hope. Hope that stems from working together; hope that comes from faith in humanity; and hope that even in the midst of corrupt adults, deathly plagues, and the aftermath of natural disasters – we are stronger than the challenges and we, as a people, WILL survive. A story telling how we not only process and overcome negative events in life but still manage to find joy has been around long before the genre was named and long before we met Katniss.
Being drawn to dark plots, death, and those ‘scary’ elements that many adults do not think are age appropriate is not a new fascination for young readers. Children have grown up with Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in which children not only kill parents, but adult characters often kill or torture children. Eighteen years ago parents also worried that Harry Potter was too dark for children. Yet with each of these masterpieces and their continued popularity decades and centuries later, children not only read about negative facts of life, but they also see how other children overcome these challenges. They learn that one can survive something tragic and sometimes life doesn’t have that Disney ending. Continue reading Sometimes the Apocalypse Can Be Good: Finding the Hope in Dystopian Literature
This summer, The Hub did a round up of Speculative LGBTQ fiction and highlighted other notable LGBTQ young adult novels. If you’ve worked your way through those lists and are looking for more LGBTQ fiction, you’re in luck! This post is highlighting teen fiction that features lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise non-heterosexual identifying characters and themes that are coming out in Fall 2014 and Winter 2015.
In some of these novels, the sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to the plot, and in others, it’s just another characteristic of the protagonist. There’s a great mix of genres and styles so that any reader can find a book they’ll enjoy. With titles from debut authors as well as those firmly established in the YA world, it’s great to see such an eclectic assortment of titles.
As this recurring feature on The Hub clearly indicates, I love fantasy fiction. But even a fan like myself must acknowledge that the genre has limitations, especially in terms of diversity. Speculative fiction has remained a fairly white, cis-gendered, & straight world for a long time. The fact that there seem to be more dragons and robots than LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy & sci-fi novels is shameful and disheartening, especially to the genres’ LGBTQ+ fans. So in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, I set out to overview the current status of LGBTQ+ representation in young adult fantasy and science fiction.
The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, or in other words, the twenty-four hour period with the greatest amount of sunlight. This year in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice will take place on this coming Saturday, June 21st, and in the southern hemisphere on December 21st. Just think of all those hours of natural light to read by in a comfy hammock! This definitely calls for a reading list.
The roots of summer solstice celebrations are pagan and over time also became associated with the Christian St. John’s Day. Currently, the summer solstice is celebrated by many, including practitioners of Wicca and also residents of northern Europe, where it is a secular festivity. The summer solstice is particularly important in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the summer solstice, known as Midsummer, is even a public holiday occurring on June 24th.
There are several young adult novels concerning or including the summer solstice, in particular a few which have been published fairly recently. The following are a sampling. Grab one this Saturday, go relax in the sunshine and enjoy!
Shadow of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
In the first book of the Carrier trilogy, Carrier of the Mark, American teen Megan, who has moved with her family to a small town in Ireland, learns that she is actually the human representation of air, one of the four elements. In book two of the series, Shadow of the Mark, Megan and her boyfriend Adam, who is the element of water, and his siblings Ãine (Earth) and RÃan (Fire) must get themselves ready for the summer solstice Alignment, a rite in which the four elements become one. There are various complications in the novel, including the fact that any union between Megan and Adam may end up killing him. There are also Druids and knights who are sometimes of assistance to the four teens and sometimes in conflict with each other. Megan herself must decide to take action if things are going to come to a positive resolution in this suspenseful paranormal romance. Continue reading Summer Solstice Reads
In December I first blogged about heightening your reading experience by concocting a â€œbookish brew,â€ a beverage inspired by the book that you’re into at the moment. Today, in honor of yesterday’s release of Lissa Price’sEnders, I thought I’d share a drink recipe that I created in the spirit of her Starters (2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers), the first book in this duology and one of my favorite reads.
In Starters, sixteen-year-old Callie lives in a futuristic Los Angeles in which everyone is either under age 20 or over age 60. A fatal spore illness has killed all those in the age range in between. Callie, her ill young brother Tyler, and her friend Michael are attempting to survive together by living in abandoned buildings, trying to avoid being sent to a prison-like institution for parentless children. Desperate to help Tyler, Callie decides to sign up to rent her body out to seniors who will take control of her mind, living as youth again for a short period. In return Callie is promised a very large sum of money. During Callie’s third â€œrental,â€ however, she experiences periods where she is back in her own mind, learning that her current renter may plan to use her body to kill someone. This initiates an action-packed series of events in which Callie learns more about her renter’s motivations and the plans of Prime Destinations, the company which she’s allowed to loan out her body. Fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will love Starters, another great dystopian read about a strong and compassionate female lead taking a stand in a society divided between haves and have-nots.