Crime dramas are very popular, so much so that many shows (NCIS, CSI, Law & Order, to name a few) have spawned spin-offs which then become popular as well. CSI: Cyber is no exception.
This criminal show follows a team that tracks criminals who are using technology to commit their crimes. One of the newest members of this team is Brody Nelson, a convicted hacker who uses his computer skills to catch cyber criminals. If Brody were to walk in today and ask for a good book to read, this is what I’d offer him:
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2009 Best Books for Young Adults) is an obvious choice. After a major terrorist attack, Marcus and his friends are suspected of orchestrating the attack due to their skills as hackers. Although Marcus is cleared of wrongdoing, he has to use his hacking skills to rescue one of his friends who was not so lucky.
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.
Much of diverse young adult literature is contemporary, realistic fiction, or historical fiction about the struggle of being a person of color. As a teen library worker, I get to know the personal lives of teens and some of their stories are heartbreaking. From poverty to bullying, I recognize that the struggle is real and I am happy to be a non-judgemental adult soundboard. I am also grateful for the plethora of young adult fiction available so that I can hand a book to a teen I feel will provide some insight and comfort.
But when life is tough, many teens also like to escape into fantasy and science fiction. Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror also like to see themselves in these books. If people of color can survive slavery and oppression and poverty, they can also survive zombies and maniacal kings and dragons. So, where are the black Hermiones?
I am a teen services specialist and a major part of my job is to connect teens with books. I have an avid reader, who is Middle Eastern, who asks me to recommend fantasy books about once a month. A year ago when the We Need Diverse Books movement started, I asked her to do a cue card about why we need diverse books and she stated that she would like to see more Middle Eastern characters in fantasy. A little over a year later, I gave her The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and she came back and absolutely raved about the book. She said that she particularly loved the inside cover because there was a girl who looked and dressed like her. This is one reason why we need diverse books.
If you are a library worker looking to enhance your diverse young adult repertoire or a teen reader looking for yourself in a magical world or a speculative fiction reader seeking something new, here’s a list of speculative young adult fantasy/science fiction titles for you to try. Please note that some titles feature characters of color in a supporting role—but that’s okay because Hermione was a supporting character, too.
Today’s post is co-written by myself and Kenzie Moore. Kenzie is a student in her final semester of Syracuse University iSchool’s MLIS program, where she’s been focusing on teen services in between watching episodes of Teen Wolf and going to One Direction concerts. You can connect with her on Twitter.
It feels like every day we meet new tweens who are reading above their grade level and seeking recommendations. Cross-unders, or teen books with tween appeal, were well-covered in this 2013 Hub post from Erin Bush and Diane Colson. The YALSA Blog chimed in with reasons why these books are an important part of a teen collection serving reluctant and ELL teen readers as well as advanced tweens and younger teens. Knowing how frequently we search for titles to fit these diverse needs, Kenzie and I offer some additional cross-under suggestions. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie — 14-year-old Junior is going to do something he thought was impossible: he’s going to leave the Spokane Indian reservation where he lives. Not permanently or anything, but he deserves better than decades-old math books, and he’s mad about it. Mad enough to do something. Sherman Alexie’s highly-buzzed book deals with some complicated topics: bullying, racism, alcoholism, but it also deals with what it is like to find your own path to walk as a young person. That, combined with the humor in Junior’s voice and his drawings that pepper the pages, is going to make this a high-appeal book for readers just starting to dip their toes into the teen waters.
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.
Thousands of teen readers cast their votes for the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten, and The Hub is celebrating their choices! Today we feature James Dashner, whose book The Eye of Minds is #10 on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list.
James Dashner‘s star is rising fast, and shows no signs of slowing. If you missed Julie Bartel’s recent One Thing Leads to Another Interview with him, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll find out how he went from a “dork among dorks” in high school (with school photos included for good measure), to the well-known writer he is today. His big breakout was The Maze Runner (The Hub reviewed the movie adaptation, and the sequel, The Scorch Trials, is currently being shot).
Dashner’s followup series, The Mortality Doctrine, kicks off with The Eye of Minds, which has brought him the latest feather in his cap: a spot on the Teens’ Top Ten list. Haven’t read it yet? Take a peek at the book trailer:
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 Lana Gorlinski.
As hard as it is for a bookworm like myself to fathom, many teenagers simply don’t like to read. I know many of the type, and they have a variety of reasons for not enjoying books–they’d rather watch the movie, they find it tedious and can’t sit still for that long, they’d simply rather do other things with their time. Yet I’ve found that most people who “don’t like reading” actually just don’t like the books they’ve read. Indeed, if all I had read growing up were the asinine required reading pieces I was presented with, I too may have learned to loathe the activity. But I’m of the opinion that one can’t hate the act of reading itself, because it’s not a hobby so much as it is a medium for absorbing information of all kinds; saying one hates reading as a whole is just as ludicrous as saying one hates all of music, television, or the internet. Because just as there’s a music or movie genre for every taste, so too exists a near-infinite number of book genres to suit even the most finicky of readers. Below, I’ve listed a variety of books that even the most adamant non-readers should enjoy:
If you can’t put down the video games: Try an action-packed science fiction novel, like Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card! Set in a distant-future Earth, young Ender Wiggins finds himself selected for training in zero gravity to learn how to fight against the alien Buggers that are attacking the earth. Besides the usual awesomeness that comes with aliens and outer space, this quick-paced read is also chock full of action and interesting military strategy at every turn of the page. What next: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
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 Saraya Flaig from Idaho.
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 Brunn from Georgia.
Teenage years. Arguably the most pivotal time in a person’s life. Full of confusion, expectations, excitement, love, friendship, anger, sadness, happiness, success, discipline, adventure, craziness, and wonder.
A time of so many emotions and experiences. A time of vulnerability.
A time in which any wisdom and understanding on the purpose of life and its trials is welcomed with open arms.
Young-adult (YA) literature, especially in recent years, has been a shelter for its readers, especially those at a growing adolescent age. It has become a source of wisdom and a source of light, giving teenage (as well as adult) readers advice on how to handle the confusing yet beautiful moments that life throws at you. Call it cliche, but it’s true.
Life is horribly difficult and blissfully wonderful at the same time. YA literature allows its readers to experience both sides and helps them cope with the good and bad while also giving them a sense of comfort, showing them that they are not alone. It serves as a teacher; a mentor that introduces morals and advice disguised by plots and characters.
And it teaches willing students. Around the globe, YA has been on the rise. Need proof? You need only go to the nearest bookstore to find that many YA books have graced the front shelves alongside the bestsellers. Oh waitâ€¦ that’s because they are some of the best sellers.
It’s hard to know where to start this review of The Maze Runner movie, so let’s start with some numbers – 1, 32.5, 63, 80, 49 and 9.15. It was the #1 movie this past weekend, raking in $32.5 million dollars. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 63% of critics favored the film and 80% of audiences liked it. Varietyreported that 49% of the viewers this weekend were male, and that after seeing the numbers above, Fox wasted no time announcing the release of the sequel to The Maze Runner to be released in September 2015.
The Variety article is interesting for many reasons, but mainly because it talks about the bankability of film adaptations of young adult books. At first it wrongfully seems to argue that The Maze Runner did so well because it was the first YA lit film with a male protagonist– apparently they’ve forgotten about the Percy Jackson films. I would also argue that this is more of an ensemble film, but that would be digressing. The more astute observation from the article is that in order for a book to film movie to do well, no matter the fandom’s size, the movie actually needs to be good for both fans and newcomers alike.
So how did first time director Wes Ball do with James Dashner’s TheMaze Runner?