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Tag: Lauren Kate

Genre Guide: Paranormal Romances for Teens



Paranormal Romance is a sub-genre of Romance. For a novel to be a Paranormal Romance, a simple thing must occur: love must begin between a human and a supernatural being (whether wholly supernatural or partially, just as long as there are supernatural elements present). However, this can be a broad interpretation. Usually, the protagonist (often the human) in these novels is put in some kind of danger, where they come to realize they can overcome this danger either on their own or with the help of the supernatural love interest.

Authors to Know

Main characters include both humans and supernatural beings. The supernatural being can be wholly supernatural or partly, and include but are not limited by the following “types”: vampire, werewolf, fairy, magician, mermaid, zombie, psychic, ghost, demon hunter, demon, angel, shapeshifter, dragon, and gods or goddesses.  Additionally, the human in Paranormal Romances can have a touch of the paranormal as well.  An example is the teen psychic that can see the ghost. Quite often, when it comes to paranormal romances written for teens, a love triangle is involved.  There could be more than one human, or more than one supernatural being in the triangle.

The Rise and Fall of YA Lit Trends: Timing is Everything

In 2008, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight hit the big time with the release of movie version. Millions flocked to the theaters, then to bookstores and libraries to finish Stephenie Meyers’ saga. Suddenly, everywhere we looked, there were vampires: scary, sexy, sparkly, fangs… you could take your pick. More books hit the shelves (or were discovered) like PC Cast’s House of Night series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Not to mention the many TV shows cropping up everywhere, such as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s Vampire Diaries. It was vampire frenzy. Then the inevitable backlash hit—hard. Folks had clearly hit a saturation point with vampires (particularly Twilight.) It became cool to loudly proclaim ones’ hatred of Twilight—and all things vampire. Twilight spoofs were being produced, such as Nightlight: a Parody by the Harvard Lampoon and the Vampires Suck movie.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly BlackFast forward to 2013 when Holly Black (author of both children’s and young adult gold like The Spiderwick Chronicles and the overlooked but spectacular Curse Workers trilogy) offers The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This book has everything a lover of gothic reads could want: creepy cool cover art, a terrifying opening scene, scary and dangerously hot romance, flawed narrator, realistic intriguing side characters, and a vividly described falling apart Las Vegas-like town under constant camera surveillance (showing another frightening side of reality TV like that depicted in the Hunger Games trilogy.) In fact, in this librarian’s humble opinion, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown has nary a flaw to be found—except that it’s about vampires. As Karyn Silverman of the Someday My Printz Will Come blog writes, “…I think the anti-vampire bias runs so deep in most librarians these days that Coldtown risks a cold shoulder as a result.” I fear Silverman might be correct in her assessment, as I haven’t heard much buzz from other readers about Coldtown—unless of course, I’m the one who brought it up (which I do, often and loudly). On a bright note, Coldtown‘s appearance on YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list offers hope for this overlooked gem. 

Guide to Angels in YA Literature

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Now that ghosts and ghouls have had their day, it seems appropriate to turn to beneficent supernatural beings. In fact, there’s a long tradition of honoring saints (All Saints’ Day) and praying for the souls of departed loved ones (All Souls Day) just after Halloween.

In recent years, we’ve seen countless permutations of teen characters with paranormal qualities. Good vampires, tormented werewolves, hilarious zombies… and so many more. Perhaps it was inevitable that angels, traditionally sacred creatures busy with the work of God, should be incorporated into YA fiction. Hierarchies of angelic responsibilities were created centuries ago by at least four major religions: Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Zoroastrian. It’s interesting to see what sort of worlds are created for today’s teen angels.

 Kissed by an Angel series by Elizabeth Chandler

This is an enduring series that focuses on the relationship between Tristan and Ivy, two beautiful teens who are tragically separated by Tristan’s death. Ivy is completely devastated, but she still feels Tristan’s presence, even feels the touch of his hand. This is because Tristan has returned to Ivy as her guardian angel. His task is protect Ivy from danger, particularly as they team up to track down Tristan’s killer. The first three books in the original trilogy are now published in one volume, Kissed by an Angel. Kissed by an Angel is an early entry in the realm of transcendental love affairs.

Back to School with a Supernatural Twist

Back to SchoolI have a problem: I hate the end of August.

It’s a time of year that just brings me down, and not because it is the end of summer, but because it is time to go back to school.  Growing up, I would be filled with dread as the weeks passed in August.  I tried to fake it and get into new school supplies and a new wardrobe, but in the end, no shiny folders or awesome sneakers could quell the anxiety inside of me for the first day of school.  As years passed, I thought I would grow out of being grumpy at the end of August, but to this day I still get down this time of year even though I no longer attend school.

This got me thinking, perhaps if I had attended some of the schools I have read about in teen literature–those that have a supernatural twist–then maybe I would have liked back to school time just a little bit more… and maybe I would have even looked forward to starting a new school year.  If you are like me and feeling like a big bummer right now because it is back to school time, then check out some of the books I have listed below.  These novels feature schools that are ten times cooler than your ordinary school, and might even help you get into the back to school spirit.

zombie queenZombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby

Mia wants to ensure that she will be going to prom with the high school quarterback so she purchases a love spell, but it backfires and turns her classmates into zombies.  A school filled with zombies would definitely make life more exciting!  Every day would be a battle for your life.  Mia, however, has help from new student Chase, who just happens to work for the Department of Paranormal Containment.

Great and Terrible BeautyA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (2004 Best Books for Young Adults, 2004 Teens’ Top Ten Title)

Gemma Doyle has special powers that she does not know about, until she attends the Spence School in London.  It is there that Gemma and her new friends discover a diary that allows Gemma to contact the Realms, a spirit world where they all travel to.  Talk about a great escape from the mundane school day! In the Realms they seem to have vast power and find much happiness, until the truth about the Realms and the Order that maintains this spirit world become known to the girls.

Looks Matter (With Books, Anyway)

I totally judge books by their covers.

Don’t get me wrong; I usually don’t stop there. The beauty beyond a book’s skin is what I really look for. But the cover of a book can be enough to make me check it out immediately — or to stop me from opening its pages for months. The cover is the first thing about a book I see, so of course it’s important in deciding whether or not to read it.

For me, the cover that stands out from the others is the cover I’m drawn to. I’m sure in some way they’re all designed to be the cover that stands out, but lately, it’s been easy to see the trends in the look of YA literature. Teen books can largely be grouped by their covers.

clockwork princessFirst, there are books with real people modeling on the front. With those covers, it feels like I’ve seen so many recently featuring a girl in a fancy, sumptuous dress, even when it doesn’t have much to do with the book. Most recently, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare joined the crowd with this kind of cover (though its dress can be forgiven due to being set in the 19th Century). Other popular titles following this trend include The Selection by Kiera Cass, Matched by Ally Condie, and the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Those are all fantasy or dystopia books, however. Most of the other covers with models that I see are realistic fiction, so they feature teenagers in normal clothes. Usually they’re doing something semi-related to the novel, like holding hands or walking along train tracks, but often they’re ambiguous enough that the cover could be switched with that of another novel on the shelf and each would still have a similar effect.

From Russia with YA

A year and a half ago, I relocated from Southern California to Moscow, Russia. Since I do not speak or read Russian, I accepted that my book needs would not be satisfied through local bookstores for the most part. This certainly has not stopped me from exploring the shelves here when given the chance, though, and I have been surprised by some of what I have found there.

I had my first American YA sighting shortly after I arrived. While checking out the book section of a hypermarket, I was surprised to see Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes face-out on one of the shelves. Despite the Russian text, it was easy to spot since the cover art was the same, with a fierce-looking Clary beyond the cityscape. I found City of Bones and City of Glass next to it and, over the next few months, I visited her books there more than once, just to see something familiar and recognizable.

Cassandra Clare's City of Ashes / Photo courtesy of Dom Knigi
Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes / Photo courtesy of Dom Knigi

The Next Big Things That Never Were: Predictions That Haven’t Come True…Yet

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.

As much as we love to look into our crystal ball, not everyone can be Nostradamus. Some predictions just never take off. As we near the YA Literature Symposium, let’s take a moment to look at the trends that didn’t quite get off the ground.


In 2010, as we were sure the vampire trend was waning and the dystopian train was still gathering steam, we began looking for the next big thing. Publishers guessed that paranormal was going to continue to be popular and were looking for the next hot creature. Vampires were old news, werewolves were even a little dated, zombies were hot but had probably hit their peak — mermaids, they decided, were where it was at! Some of the highlights: