It was just announced that the procedural drama Boneswill be entering its final season this fall. I have been keeping up with Dr. Brennan and her gang of “squints” since the beginning, and although I think it would be difficult to convince her to read any young adult fiction, if she were to ask me for suggestions, these are books I think she would enjoy:
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner. There are boys missing in Billy’s neighborhood, and Billy wants to earn the reward for finding them, which will help his family keep their home. He may be in for more than he bargained, however.
Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson. Tandy wakes up to find police in her home and her parents dead. She was the last one to see them alive. If no one entered their apartment in the night, she or one of her siblings must be the murderer.
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa. Selby, Mira, and Jeremy are thrown together and attempt to survive high school as Jeremy discovers that Mira and Selby are keeping things hidden. Can they overcome their secrets together?
If you read even a moderate amount of fantasy, you are likely familiar with one of its most common tropes: the chosen one, also known as the fated savior or destined heroine. While there are many different types of fantasy being written and read today, certain patterns repeat frequently and the ‘chosen one’ trope is no exception. This trope usually involves the inclusion of a character (usually the protagonist) who has in some way been marked as especially gifted or otherwise uniquely equipped to complete a special mission. Whether they’ve been chosen by a deity, a prophecy, or circumstances of birth, chosen ones in fantasy tales must often complete quests, battle evil forces, and make difficult, pivotal choices in order to achieve their destinies. This particular trope is far from limited to fantasy literature–it shows up in all kinds of science fiction and fantasy media and the template is often connected to mythologist Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth or hero’s journey.
As a longtime fantasy fan, I find the ‘chosen one’ trope can be a double-edged sword for the genre. On one hand, any popular pattern becomes stale after a while and stories that depend heavily on the ‘chosen one’ narrative can easily fall into traps of lazy plotting or derivative content. ‘Chosen one’ stories can include protagonists who are unbelievably talented or inhumanly heroic. These characters often react in their ‘chosen’ status in predictable ways, usually resisting or attempting to escape or avoid their destinies. However, this trope has remained prevalent for a reason, especially in fantasy for and about teenage characters. After all, it’s a narrative that investigates the difficult process of coming to understand one’s role in the larger world and battling with the frightening concept of a future–struggles common to adolescents even without magical prophecies hanging over their heads.
Harry Potter Series (Best Books For Young Adults: 1999,2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Teens Top Ten: 2004, 2006, & 2008) by J.K. Rowling: Ron is the quintessential goofball best friend; he is this literary trope. Ron is the comic relief from Harry’s angst. Understandable angst, I mean we all know Harry has had it rough. But Ron also plays the role of explaining magical culture to Harry (and us readers.) Hermione does this as well but as a “muggle” she tends to know more textbook-based facts. Ron is a great best friend to have, and an absolute goofball.
So, first things first, how many of you have a card for your local library?
I hope all of our trusty Hub readers raised their hands with enthusiasm! After all, having a library card is cooler than being cool, as the 2015 honorary chair Snoopy himself tells us. Besides, a library is a gateway to a host of free and fabulous resources! If you haven’t had the chance to saunter on down to your local public library and receive your very own library card, take advantage of this celebration’s last couple weeks to investigate the process.
But if you need a reminder of just why libraries are in fact so cool, check out these examples of excellent and awe-inspiring fictional libraries.
The Hogwarts Library from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
What library fan could resist the cavernous and mysterious space full of magical texts detailing everything from how to take care of baby dragons to the secrets behind the creation of dangerous potions? The Hogwarts Library is located on the fourth floor of Hogwarts castle and contains thousands upon thousands of books. The space is divided into many specific sections, including the Restricted Section–a roped off area which requires a signed note from a professor to access. As far as we know, the librarian is the stern Madam Irma Pince. Additionally, the library is the site of quite a lot of significant moments and discoveries for Harry, Ron, and Hermione during their time at Hogwarts; it’s clearly a cool place to hang out–or at least a good place to conduct research on dark secrets and even darker magic. After all, as Ron so wisely states in his description of Hermione’s particular approach to problems, “When in doubt, go to the library.” Continue reading Celebrating National Library Card Sign Up Month With Fabulous Fictional Libraries
I’ve never been much of a fangirl. Or a teenybopper. Or shipped my name with a fictional character. My celebrity crushes have been few and far between and fleeting at best. But there is one notable exception, my lifelong (well, since I was ten) adoration of Spock and the man that brought him to life, Leonard Nimoy. Clearly I am not alone in this, as evidenced by the recent outpouring of love and acclaim in response to Nimoy’s death earlier this year.
For some, it’s Spock’s cool composure and his unerring devotion to logic that’s so compelling. For others, his unspoken depths coupled with his pointy ears that inspire. For myself, though, it is his inherent contradictions, his very Otherness that caused my ten-year-old soul to soar with recognition and my heart to flutter with tweenly adulation. Spock was the first character I’d encountered who, like myself, was mixed race. He embodied similar struggles and desires and his Otherness, like mine, was physically visible in the world–a constant source of commentary, curiosity, and derision. And though Nimoy himself was not mixed race, he clearly understood the tensions of that identity as he so movingly illustrates in his 1968 letter to a biracial teen fan.
Arguably, Spock’s half Vulcan/half human heritage is what makes his character so enduring and endearing to millions of fans. In this regard, Spock can be seen as the predecessor and inspiration for a number of contemporary YA sci-fi/fantasy characters whose otherness is based in their mixed race (or mixed species as the case may be) identity. From the Half-blood Prince to Percy Jackson to Seraphina, YA abounds with sensitive souls alternately emboldened and embittered by their uncommon parentage. Considering the popularity of these books, the appeal of these characters extends far beyond the mixed race readers who can relate to them. So, what is so universally appealing about these “hybrid” characters? Continue reading Spock’s Legacy: Teens, YA, and (not) Belonging
As I was checking Twitter – for work! – last week I stumbled upon a woman tweeting a generic dystopian YA novel. Her “novel” has the stereotypical hallmarks of the genre: an oppressive, stratified soceity, some sort of testing, a love triangle, the trope of the “Chosen One.” It’s great. I love dystopian YA novels, so at first I was a little annoyed, but it’s actually really wonderful. Take a look:
It’s the night before my 17th birthday, which means in a few hours, I’ll have to face the mysterious Test to determine my future.
OK, it’s time for a little make believe. I’d ask you to close your eyes, but I know that will make reading the rest of this fairly difficult. Imagine it’s Christmas morning and you just noticed that your stocking is filled to the brim with goodies. Upon closer inspection, you notice that it’s not just any random gift. Santa has stuffed your stocking with books upon books. It truly is a merry Christmas.
Everyone makes their own personal Santa. One Santa would only ever bring candy and never socks. Another Santa would leave the sweets at home and fill up the stocking with silly little knick knacks. In my imagination, Santa stuffs as many books as possible in my stocking. The question is, how well does Santa know your personal reading tastes? Below are several of our favorite holiday characters. Let’s see what books Santa stuffed in their stockings.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Rudolph’s story is a familiar one. I mean, the basics of his life are squeezed into a song. Aside from the magical ability to fly and his glowing nose, Rudolph’s story is about trying to fit in when others make you feel like an outcast. This is a common theme in many teen books. Rudolph would definitely enjoy science fiction stories that include other characters with powers. For example, I guarantee there were several “X-Men” graphic novels. Who wouldn’t want to relate their issues with the issues of superheroes? In addition to the “X-Men” graphic novels, I bet Santa would throw in the “Maximum Ride” series by James Patterson, starting with The Angle Experiment. Similarly to the X-Men, Patterson’s books are about kids with powers that would normally exclude them. Instead, these powers bring the kids together. Who could forget about Harry Potter? Harry Potter spends his whole life up to the age of ten thinking that he wasn’t as good as the other kids. Then he discovers in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling that he is actually more special than his rude family. Also, just like Rudolph and his reindeer friends, Harry gets to do the same things as the other wizards, but still must deal with being treated different. Rudolph’s nose will always glow and Harry’s scar will always remind people that he was not killed by He Who Must Not Be Named. Of course, let’s not forget the parallels between Rudolph’s relationship to Santa and Harry’s relationship with Dumbledore. The similarities are definitely there. Obviously, Rudolph will have quite a few books to read in the time before next Christmas. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Holiday Edition
As we draw close to Thanskgiving, we often turn our thoughts and plans to family. While there are YA characters who have strong families, as Jessica’s 2012 post and Kelly’s post from last week shows, there are also lots of YA books where the protagonists have either lost family members, been separated from them, or never had a proper family to begin with. This doesn’t mean these characters have no family relationships, though. Lots of YA characters, when faced with a lack of a regular family, create their own. Here are some of my favorites:
Ellie and her friends in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden (the movie version was chosen as a Fabulous Film for Young Adults 2013). This action packed series, which starts with Tomorrow, When the War Began follows a group of Australian teenagers who go away for a camping trip and come back to find their country has been invaded. As the plot unfolds, the friends rely on each other more and more to be both fellow soldiers determined to take back their homes and a family that both provides emotional support and takes on the everyday tasks of making a place to live. I especially like that the last book in the series, The Other Side of Dawn, deals with the difficulty of reintegrating with their parents after the enforced separation and self-sufficiency, and the companion series, The Ellie Chronicles, continues to explore the toll that war takes on families, both given and self-made. Although I haven’t yet read them, I think Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 series (2014 Teens’ Top Ten) covers some of the same ground in terms of a family forged out of necessity. Continue reading When Friends Become Family
October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Abby Hendrickson from Minnesota.
When I was a freshmen in high school, a parent in my town decided that the book that we would be reading in class that year, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (which discusses sexual abuse), was explicit and therefore should be banned and removed from shelves. Immediately English teachers and librarians were up in arms, ready to strike out the looming book censorship. They were prepared to defend the right of the students and everyone else to read freely.
Not wanting it to become a big fight, the school board quickly came to the decision that the book wouldn’t be banned but instead would be pulled from the required reading list. Under the new rules, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was kept at the school where teachers would read aloud from it only when the passages were necessary for the lesson. Continue reading Being A Teen in the Fight Against Book Censorship