YA Literary Trope: The A-Hole Friend(s)

Welcome back to another exploration of common themes found in young adult literature.  We have already discussed some fun literary tropes including The Old Clunker I Drive, The I Already Know You Introduction, The I Have to Take Care of my Parents, and The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (and Boy.)  Today we will examine a not-so-nice trope: the A-hole friend(s).  Let’s talk about those jerks who steer our protagonists astray.  Those bullies who taunt, tease, and torture others.  This trope can be hard to read– a good writer (such as those I mention below) make these a-holes so true to life we palpably hate them.

YA Literary Tropes A Hole Friends

  • Before I Fall (2011 Best Fiction For Young Adults, 2011 Teens Top Ten) by Lauren Oliver: Elody, Ally, and (most of all) Lindsay.  Actually Sam, the narrator of this extraordinary book, is also kind of an a-hole.  The foursome are your typical High School popular mean girls.  They are beautiful. They laugh loudly. They target an innocent girl and bully her for years. They drink and drive fast (and pay for it.)  Sam seems to consider herself a bystander in a lot of this a-hole behavior, but as the book goes on she learns more and more how her behavior affects others.

Continue reading YA Literary Trope: The A-Hole Friend(s)

What Would They Read?: Norrie from Under the Dome

I read Stephen King’s Under the Dome several years ago, so I was understandably excited when I found p9621445_b_v9_aeout it was going to be made into a television show.  This show is in its third summer season, and I’ve wondered about the teen characters. If they actually had access to books, what would they want to read? Norrie, in particular, strikes me as a tough customer. She and her moms were on their way to a camp for rebellious teens when they became trapped under the dome. Norrie’s moms see her as rebellious, and her caustic attitude does little to win her any admirers in town, at least among the adult population. If Norrie were to walk in today, what would I recommend that she read?

Backlash by Sarah Littman

In Backlash, Lara’s family and friends soon realize the impact of small things that became bigger, more complicated problems. This book would be a good one to give Norrie to help her understand why her moms were so bothered by her sexting and why they wanted to send her to a camp for troubled teens. Norrie would probably also be drawn to the drama in this story and the way few of the characters are sympathetic.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

More and more books about LGBTQ+ teens are being published every day, but there are still frighteningly few books about teens with LGBTQ+ parents. Norrie would enjoy Lola’s story for the simple fact that Lola has two dads and has to deal with the consequences of this the same way that Norrie deals with having two moms.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your AssYaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (2014 Pura Belpre Award)

Yaqui decides that the new girl, Piddy, is too smart for her own good and isn’t Latina enough. Thus follows a year of Yaqui torturing Piddy, to the point where Piddy is assaulted outside her home and the assault is recorded and posted online. This book might help Norrie to tone down her caustic attitude a bit and to be able to see things from the other person’s point of view, as this story follows Piddy and how she deals with the torture she’s being put through.

Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Ben’s father is tired of putting up with Ben’s rebellion, so he and his new boyfriend take Ben and move to the middle of Montana. Ben doesn’t feel like he fits in in this new small town, and he is still very angry at his father. Norrie would relate to Ben’s anger at his father as well as the small-town setting of this book, which is very similar to Chester’s Mill.  Continue reading What Would They Read?: Norrie from Under the Dome

Get Ready for Paper Towns with Some Readalikes

papertowns_movieWith the movie Paper Towns coming out in theaters in just a couple days, there seems to be a buzz in the air about John Green once again. Paper Towns, like all Green’s books, holds its own right up there on my bookshelf along with An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in our Stars, and Looking for Alaska.

The movie is directed by Jake Schreier and is based on the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten winning title by John Green. I love how the story is cleverly declared as an American comedy-drama mystery film. That seems to sum it all up right? Paper Towns features the adorable Quentin Jacobsen who has loved his gal-pal neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were young. One night entices Quentin to go out on the town and play a bunch of revenge pranks on her cheating boyfriend. The night is a whirlwind of fun and outrageous pranks that brings the two closer than ever. Then Margo suddenly decides to disappear without a trace. What I love about Quentin is that he never gives up on Margo and that is so darn romantic. After Margo turns up missing Quentin soon unravels the pieces of the puzzle (literally) that she has left in her wake. Paper Towns comes out Friday, July 24, so don’t miss this coming-of-age story that you know you won’t want to end!

Here are five books that satisfy your taste for the young and the restless until the Paper Towns movie comes out.

  • Fangirl Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) – Cath struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words, and worrying about her fragile father.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (2006 Printz Award winner) – Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School includes making good friends and playing great pranks. A sudden fatality shakes Miles to the core and he contemplates what life and death are all about and how to carry on after you lose that one person that lights up your life.
  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Thorp – In the last months of high school, Sutter Keely stays drunk or high most of the time, but that could change when he forms a friendship with his classmate Aimee.
  • Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer – Carson Phillips decides to create a litstruck by lightningerary magazine to bolster his college application, which means he needs submissions. Carson resorts to blackmailing his classmates and he doesn’t realize how his actions will be the cause and effect of his plans for the future.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2008 Best Books for Young Adults) – Clay Jenkins finds a mysterious box with his name on it filled with 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah a classmate who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Clay must listen to the tapes and follow the clues that Hannah leaves to find out the mystery of her suicide.

-Kimberli Buckley

The Hub Loves the ’90s: ’90s Historical Fiction?!

The Hub Loves the '90sHappy end of April, Hubbers!  I can’t believe it’s already almost summer; time moves very quickly when you’re not noticing, I guess.  And, with that little rumination on the passage of time, I give to you the third and final installment in our The Hub Loves the ’90s series – great posts from Jessica and Katie have been featured in previous weeks, so be sure to check those out if you missed them the first time around.

The thing is, the 1990s were and continue to be the best decade that’s ever existed, and I’m not just saying that because that was when I was a teenager!  Like Katie said, I developed interests and favorites in the world of pop culture that still stay with me today.  I was just mentoring a teen the other day that was looking at the latest Rolling Stone that features Kurt Cobain on the cover.  She made a really quick comment to me about how great he is.  And, readers, let me tell you – that just sparked such a wonderful feeling in my heart because I could see that things I cared about (Nirvana being the #1 thing I loved as a teen) are still resonating with teens today.  As an adult, you want to think the art that shaped you will matter in the future, and a lot of 90s pop culture is still attracting teens, which is pretty great.

Well, enough with my sappy introspection!  With the influx of 90s culture into the current day, and like Katie mentioned, the influx of 30-somethings into the field of YA literature, we’ve got a bit of a ’90s revival happening in recent teen fiction.  Now, there’s no way I want to call fiction set in the ’90s historical fiction (how old does that make me?!), so how about recent past fiction, instead?  Good.  It’s settled.  So, here’s a list of some recent past fiction set in the 1990s that I thought I’d feature for all you Hubbers – first up, Facebook in the 90s?!

Continue reading The Hub Loves the ’90s: ’90s Historical Fiction?!

Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

by flickr user o5com
by flickr user o5com

Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days.  So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.

The Book Series Made into a Show

You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone.   When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show.  Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)

walking dead
walking dead
  • Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more!  You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.

2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises.  You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!

  • Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises.  Yes, this is both a pro and a con.  These changes may call into question your precognitive skills.  For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.

  • Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:

Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die?  Then they look your way: do you know?  Oh, yeah.  Continue reading Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

Audiobooks for Reluctant Listeners

By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
June is Audiobook Month!  Many of us have fond memories of being read to as a child, but did you know that you can still be read to?  That is the value of audiobooks! The story comes alive and, with the right narrator, you can hear a story much more differently than you would reading it.  Accents are perfected, exclamations are understood, and even words or names you may not know or have never heard before make sense to you.  This is my second year evaluating audiobooks for YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee.  As chair of this year’s committee, I am so excited for all the great audiobook-related things happening this month.  Articles are being written about the importance and resurgence of audiobooks, you can get in “Sync” this summer and download free audios, and the audiobook circulation at my Library sees a nice increase starting in June with many people going on road trips and vacations.

To give you an idea of what makes an audiobook a good listen, here are some of the criteria that gets an audiobook on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection list:

  • The narration has to expand or compliment the original text.  In other words, when you listen to a narrator tell the story, it comes alive and allows the you to experience the text in a different way.
  • Character voice variation is key!  We must have a sense of who the character is by the different qualities in the voices that the narrator uses.  For example, it is a lot more enjoyable when you are listening to a narrated conversation and can tell which character is talking without the text cues letting you know.  Accents, exclamations, and sound effects also are considered.  If done well, they really make an audiobook amazing!
  • There is also the importance of a match between the text and the narrator.  You know when it is right; your ear picks it up.  The narrator embodies the main character and sometimes even all the characters in the books.
  • The technical production on an audiobook is also a criteria for the Amazing Audiobooks list.  We want to make sure the editing is done well, the sound quality is even, and that there are no issues with extra sounds or mike pickups. Additionally, we do consider the music that you hear at the beginning, end, or in between the tracks–does it match the story?  Is it effective in heightening the story? If it is, then it just adds more quality to the production.

So, where should you start if you have never listened to an audiobook before?  Well, some great awards and lists are put out every year: the Odyssey Award, the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults annual list, and the Audies are a few places to start.  Below I have compiled some of my favorites, that I think will be a great first listen for all of you who are new to audiobooks and want to give them a try.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, read by Jeff Woodman.  Brilliance Audio: 7 hours. (2008 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

http://youtu.be/qKVa5d9iE4E

Continue reading Audiobooks for Reluctant Listeners

Is This the Real Life? YA Books with Multiple Perspectives

One of my favorite types of books in the contemporary genre is the dual or multi-narrative. I’m sure I will revisit this topic again in future posts about contemporary YA fiction, but these were the first five titles that popped into my head when I started to make my list. I know I am missing a lot, so maybe this will just be part one?

Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults and 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Told from the point of view of two Will Graysons whose lives change drastically when they meet. Both Wills are trying to find their way, and share how their lives are affected by knowing one Tiny Cooper, who is not tiny in any sense of the word.

Clean by Amy Reed (2012 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers)

Five different points of view from teens while in rehab. They are forced together to face their demons, their sobriety, and who they are without the addiction. Continue reading Is This the Real Life? YA Books with Multiple Perspectives

The Hub Celebrates Thesaurus Day

Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew
Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew

Happy Thesaurus Day!

While not necessarily a well-known holiday, Thesaurus Day is celebrated on January 18, the birthday of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus.

The original version of Roget’s thesaurus, created in 1805 and released in 1852, contained 15,000 words. Over the years, the thesaurus has grown, adding thousands of additional words and synonyms. These days, in addition to print versions of the thesaurus, wordsmiths are able to access the Roget’s thesaurus online through Thesaurus.com. If you are interested in a historical perspective, a 1911 version has been cataloged as part of the ARTFL Project through the University of Chicago.

We’re celebrating a day early here on The Hub by using the thesaurus to swap words in some popular YA titles. See if you can figure out the original titles and then scroll down to check!

  1. The Tome Bandit
  2. The Bonus of Being a Loner
  3. Papyrus Municipalities
  4. An Excellent and Dreadful Virtue
  5. The Insanity Below
  6. Swivel Spot
  7. The Examining
  8. Faithful
  9. Break Me
  10. The Choice
  11. Vocalize
  12. A Chain of Ill-fated Happenings.
  13. Gorgeous Critters
  14. Audrey, Halt!
  15. The Commander of the Loops
  16. Thirteen Rationales of Cause
  17. The Categorically Bona Fide Journal of a Part-Time Native American
  18. The Sorority of the Roving Trousers
  19. Always…
  20. 13 Slight Azure Pockets
  21. The Starvation Sports
  22. The Accuracy Referring to Always
  23. The Labyrinth Sprinter
  24. Granted That I Stick Around
  25. Paired

Continue reading The Hub Celebrates Thesaurus Day