This year on the Hub we are celebrating the Twelve Days of YA with a series of posts loosely based on the traditional Twelve Days…
Tag: Megan McCafferty
Do you know the feeling that comes sometimes when you finish reading a really great book, the one in which you don’t want the story to end? You can always hope for a sequel or a companion novel. If there is a film adaptation, you can experience the world, again, there. Or you can keep the world alive by creating something yourself.
I recently attended the DML2014 conference in Boston and found myself surrounded by people passionately talking about ways to interact with digital media. As a blogger for The Hub, I immediately focused on the ways that people were using these programs and communities to create content based on YA books. This also tied in well with last week’s Teen Tech Week theme of DIY @ your library. Below, I have listed a handful of ways that youth and adults are taking their favorite stories and making something new.
Create a Program
One of the tools that was frequently mentioned at DML2014 is Scratch, a web-based programming tool that allows users to create and share games, videos, and stories. I searched Scratch for projects related to popular YA titles and found a wide variety of program types including interactive quizzes and games, slideshows, and still image fanart. A few examples include a Divergent Aptitude Test Simulation, Snape’s Potion Game (Harry Potter), and The Mortal Instruments: Downworld Attack game. These users have found a way to continue interacting with books that they enjoyed while also learning how to code computer programs. Scratch is only one of a number of options available in this area, too.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been forty years since Roe v. Wade– forty years of continuous discussion, dissension, and dramatic debate on both sides of the issue. And the conversation is hardly over; earlier this year Wendy Davis made filibustering history and just last month the Women’s Health Protection Act was introduced into Congress. Given the prominence of women’s reproductive rights in the news today, it is no wonder that YA literature is also tackling this highly controversial topic.
The books examined below can all trace their thematic heritage back to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke (2012 Amelia Bloomer List) is the most obvious successor to this seminal work on women’s reproductive rights. A reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, the book is set in a future theocratic American where abortion is illegal and women who are found guilty are charged with murder. Crimes are punished by a method called â€œchromingâ€ wherein one’s skin is genetically altered to become a color that correlatesto the crime committed. The novel follows the story of Hannah Prynne who becomes pregnant after a steamy affair with a celebrity preacher. Her decision to abort the fetus and keep her lover’s identity secret results in an engaging, albeit disquieting, tale of the limitations of love, the effects of criminalizing abortion, and ultimately one woman’s quest for independence.
The fall lineup on The CW has been running for a couple of months now, and we are finally getting used to some familiar faces while we get accustomed to lots of new ones as well. Century-old intrigue, new secret facilities, fallen angels and some old-fashioned family drama are surprising us at every turn. Even if you don’t watch every show on the Network of Beautiful People, we all feel a little connection to the network for the plethora of stories it’s told over the years. If you’re a fan, there are a certain group of “types” you might have in regards to your kind of fiction. You might love the supernatural, or have an affinity for people who kick a little ass. So let’s take the time to check out a few pages–new and old–that can act as alternative entertainment as we approach that time: holiday hiatus.
Hollyweird by Terri Clark. In this lighthearted comedy, a blue-eyed fallen angel must protect a young girl who has just won a trip to meet a TV star. This Hollywood heartthrob, who on his show drives around in a classic car killing monsters in every state, is actually the son of the devil! Written by a Supernatural fan, this novel has all the in-jokes you could ever want, on top of a funny and adorable story in its own right. (I’ll be honest: it was actually this book that spurred me to watch Supernatural, as I’d been afraid by that point that I would never catch up–then after reading it I decided to do what I could to make it so!)
It’s Library Card Sign-Up Month. With the focus this month on trying to get new library customers and issuing as many new cards as possible, I thought I’d try to come up with some YA books that have libraries as a part of the plot. Surprisingly, for a place where so many of us spend so much time, and that many authors say they go to for inspiration and research, the library itself is not featured a lot in YA books â€“ unlike books for younger readers (i.e. Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians and other books in the series, and many other books) or adults – just think of all of those murders in libraries in the Agatha Christie and other mystery books. Or, if it is, it’s not portrayed as the place teens want to spend any time in unless they have to.
The YA series that immediately came to mind was Buffy the Vampire Slayer â€“ Josh Whedon’s TV series, the paperbacks written by various authors, and the Buffy graphic novels. I still miss the TV show. Giles was a great librarian!
Here are some other YA books where libraries â€“ public and school â€“ do play a prominent role or contain a memorable scene(s).
A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone is about teen girls who write comments in library copy of Judy Blume’s Forever and pass it around about a â€œbadâ€ boy as a warning for other girls.
Bumped by Megan McCafferty (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee) takes place in 2036 where the children’s room in the local public library is an historical artifact, rarely used, but it’s open, and the two main characters Melody and Zen go there frequently to hang out alone in the children’s playhouse.
Last month Hub blogger Becky O’Neil write a great blog featuring school stories for teens featuring a array of subsets of the traditional school story genre. I thought I’d feature some fictional books featuring college-aged students for older teens or those already in college looking for stories that depict their current college experience. Publishers haven’t published too many teen books focused on this age group and I don’t have many titles. I know college aged students are too busy to read, but what about during school breaks or as a brief distraction from studying? Here’s some of what I’ve found:
Megan McCafferty’s irresistible Jessica Darling series begins with Sloppy Firsts (a 2003 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a 2003 Popular Paperback for Young Adults) when Jessica is 16, then Second Helpings when she’s a senior in high school, followed by Charmed Thirds. This follows Jessica’s college years as she juggles her studies, works as an unpaid intern during her freshman summer at True magazine with its Ã¼berhip staff, and dates her first love Marcus Flutie, despite his being 3000 miles away in California at a Buddhist college. When Jessica confesses she cheated on him in her sophomore year with a punk Republican, Marcus stops communicating with her â€“ except for sending a series of cryptic one-word postcards. There’s also a cute (and married) Spanish grad student she’s working with on a storytelling project over her sophomore summer. Despite these distractions, Jessica can’t let go of Marcus and is stunned to learn he’s left the Buddhist college and is now living in total isolation in the middle of Death Valley at a small, all-male college run entirely by the students supporting themselves by working with cattle (or, as one of her friends says, he’s at a â€œgay cowboy campâ€).
McCafferty describes what life’s like as Jessica lives in a series of dorms on campus, struggles to pay for school after her parents withdraw their financial support sophomore year, and other hook ups she has while trying to get over Marcus. Jessica hilariously recounts her summer job her junior year teaching college prep classes to neurotic, overachieving high schoolers â€“ resulting in her being fired and having to work a humiliating job serving ice cream at the Jersey shore and her search for housing her senior year. The last two books in this wonderful series, Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths recount Jessica’s life after graduation.
The Hunger Games series has spawned a slew of new dystopian and post-apocalyptic teen books. I can’t always distinguish between the two types of books because sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. I looked up their definitions and found a great blog post on Bibliotropic on July 5 that really has a great explanation of the differences between the two.
The blog states that â€œDystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian.â€ Of course! Lois Lowry’s The Giver or Feed by M. T. Anderson. (Not to mention Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World but I’m only going to focus on current or soon to be published YA books).
Post-apocalyptic is defined as â€œset in a world or civilization after a disaster such as nuclear warfare, pandemic, impact event, etc.â€ These types of books are the ones where the characters are struggling to survive against some kind of cataclysmic event – man vs. nature. These are the types of books that I love reading because they make me feel that as bad as my life might be at times, it’s not nearly as bad as it is in these novels.
Another clue is that many of the new post-apocalyptic novels seem to have the word â€œAshâ€ or â€œAshesâ€ in the title. Ilsa Bick’s Ashes (due out in Sept.) is an exciting story of how a teen with a fatal disease & and troubled young army veteran struggle to survive after a massive electromagnetic pulse destroys all electronic devices, kills billions of people, and in the process, creates zombie -like creatures.