Genre Guide: Westerns for Teens

By Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Collection, bought by the National Park Service in 1972 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Collection, bought by the National Park Service in 1972 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Definition

Traditional western novels denote a sense of the “Old West” as defined as a time period of American history from about the 17th century to the early 20th century where new settlers dealt with the harsh landscape, lawlessness, and/or the loner who exacts vengeance in the name of doing what is right. For westerns that are written for teens, however, they don’t always follow all the typical western tropes, but most commonly some of these themes are paired with the main character or characters coming of age through the story.

Authors to Know

There aren’t many authors who are well-known for writing westerns for teens, however here are some of the more well-known western authors:

  • Loius L’Amour
  • Zane Grey
  • Larry McMurtry
  • Cormac McCarthy

Characteristics

The setting of western novels usually deem that they be set in western America.  However, westerns can take place in other geographical settings where the landscape may mimic that of the “Old West.”  So, it can be a landscape where there is a search for a valuable mineral or material, or there are desolate conditions that are hard to survive, or it is a new land that settlers must figure out how to tame.  Whatever the case, a richly detailed landscape is one of the main characteristics of a western novel.  Also, a civilized society does not exist in most western novels, usually because the land has been uninhabited and it has yet to be developed. Traditionally, western novels are set in the time period of the “Old West,” but when it comes to western novels written for teens, they do not need to be set in a historically accurate time.  They can be set in the past, alternate past, present, and even future. Continue reading Genre Guide: Westerns for Teens

Horror Survival Skills from YA Books

Modified from Flickr user Alan Bruce.
Modified from Flickr user Alan Bruce.

It’s the day before Halloween and perhaps this month you’ve watched a horror movie marathon or read a scary book. Have you ever  been watching one of those movies or reading one of those books, and it’s the scene where the hero/heroine walks into the dark, obviously haunted house to hide from the killer and you scream, “Don’t go in there!?”

Then they do. You all know better, right?

I often have this experience and wonder what I would do if I was in those terrifying situations, running from zombies or trying to fend off a serial killer. Since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my survival abilities, I will turn to the hobby I have a lot of confidence in: reading! I propose turning to the examples of plucky, resourceful, and brave heroes and heroines in YA literature to save you from the frights of Halloween and beyond.

Here are a few books you may want to read to prepare you for a few scary situations.

Scary situation # 1: Haunted by Ghosts

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones: Have you considered reasoning with the ghosts that haunt you? It works out fairly well for Sam Toop even though he is trying to save the ghosts, not save himself from ghosts. A little kindness goes a long away and maybe the ghost haunting you just wants a friend.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults): It’d be great if you could see the ghosts haunting you and could send them away with the tool of a special too like Rory, but if not consider assembling a crackerjack team of ghost hunters. Safety in numbers is always a good idea.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: If all else fails, try to get your hands on a ghost-killing knife like Cas. At the very least get a cat. Tybalt, Cas’s cat, senses ghosts like some people believe all cats to do. Continue reading Horror Survival Skills from YA Books

Genre Guide: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction for Teens

By Artiom P from Vilnius, Lithuanian (The Forgotten Veteran 1920 x1200) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Artiom P from Vilnius, Lithuanian (The Forgotten Veteran 1920 x1200) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Definition
Post-apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction. For a novel to be post-apocalyptic, the setting must be one where the end of the world has already taken place and characters are trying to survive and start anew. The end of the world event that occurred can be anything from war, to plague, to natural or man made disasters. Post-apocalyptic fiction differs from apocalyptic fiction, where the end of the world is currently taking place and the characters and fighting to survive it.

Characteristics

Post-apocalyptic fiction can be set in the current day or the far off future. Additionally, the story can take place right after the cataclysmic event or years after the event. In post-apocalyptic novels, technology can be that which we have never seen before, or there can be no technology at all. Also,  characters can remember what the world was like, or they can’t remember at all what the world was like and will fantasize about the way it used to be or even go so far as to create myths about the world before the destruction (often our current day).

The stories of post-apocalyptic novels are often action and adventure, survival stories. When post-apocalyptic fiction is written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are  surviving on their own or in packs, and oftentimes the “hero” of the story has outstanding survival skills and can figure out how to survive in this new world. As with most novels written for teens, adults can be absent in post-apocalyptic novels.  However, it is not uncommon to have an adult in a post-apocalyptic novel positioned as an evil figurehead, or the one person our hero or heroes are trying to find or keep safe. Post-apocalyptic novels can have elements of other genres in their story.  The most common is to have dystopian governments in place. Continue reading Genre Guide: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction for Teens