YA Book Personality Test

Palm Reader
Palm Reader

Forget the Tarot cards, crystal balls, and palm-readers. Toss aside those stale fortune cookies.  You need only look to  your bookshelf to understand your deepest personality traits.  Look for some of your favorite YA titles below and you may find that my keen “psychic” abilities can be enlightening.

Vanishing Girls
Vanishing Girls

* Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver.  There is more to you than meets the eye.  You keep your secrets close, and may not be very trustworthy.  But you love deeply and are very protective.

* Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. You might have a hard time trusting yourself, but go with your instincts- they won’t steer you wrong. Be yourself and don’t try so hard to please others.

Game of Love and Death
Game of Love and Death

* The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough. You may feel like you are being influenced by forces greater than your own. But it’s OK, go with it. Don’t be afraid to get hurt and great things will happen.

* Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong. Others may call you inconsistent. Your horoscope sign may be best described as “Gemini.” You are brave, smart, and have a keen sense of justice. You develop strong connections to friends and family.

Knife of Never Letting Go
The Knife of Never Letting Go

* The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 Best Book for Young Adults). Some would call you are a guys’ guy. But don’t discount the fairer sex, you may find a wonderful friend. You may not be “book smart” but you are clever and can get yourself out of tough situations. Just believe in yourself, and don’t forget to appreciate your dog.

* All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. You are drawn to those in pain and have some dark times. Talking through it may help.  We all have to go through difficult times.  Let yourself mourn those you have lost.  Continue reading YA Book Personality Test

Series Binge-Reading: The Perfect Activity for a Wintery Afternoon

Photo by flickr user Robert
Photo by flickr user Robert

Ah, winter! Perfect for marathon reading sessions indoors, bundled against the blustery elements. Whether you have several whole weeks out of classes, or just a few extra days here and there to fit in some seasonal festivities and max out your relaxation, there’s nothing like a winter’s day off for disappearing into another world for the entirety of a story’s arc, however many volumes it takes.

There are lots of definitions floating around for “binge reading.” Some indicate that it’s about cramming to meet a reading deadline, or skimming as much and as fast as possible. Others look to the new(ish) tradition of binge-watching TV series in marathon installments to describe a similar commitment to reading in large doses, especially within the same series. It’s this last definition that really appeals to me: binge-reading as an intensive, immersive experience for hours and hours (or even days and days) on end. Series titles lend themselves admirably to this sort of extended reading escape. Binging on a series lets you completely submerge yourself in another world, spend inordinate amounts of time with your favorite (and most loathed!) characters, and learn how it all turns out in one fell swoop, all without interrupting the momentum of the plot, or muddying the motives of the characters in your mind with too long a pause between volumes.

So, to help you strategize your total reading immersion during this binge-reading (ahem, I mean holiday) season, here is a list of series worth disappearing into. To help prevent the dreaded, stomach-sinking realization that there are at least ten months between you and finding out what’s happened to your new favorite characters in the next book, every series on the list has every planned volume published. With one notable exception, because I just couldn’t help myself.

knife of never letting go patrick ness coverChaos Walking series by Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men)

The first book in this pulse-pounding series (The Knife of Never Letting Go, a 2009 Best Books for Young Adults pick) launches readers into a world where the thoughts of all boys and men are audible to everyone around them; and all the girls and women have disappeared. The plot careens around with young Todd, our confused but generally well-meaning protagonist, and then pulls up at the edge of a serious cliffhanger of an ending; for your binge-reading enjoyment, make sure you have the next volume (The Ask and the Answer) lined up to keep going without pause! For readers who like their binge in auditory formats, The Knife of Never Letting Go was also a 2011 Odyssey Honor book. Continue reading Series Binge-Reading: The Perfect Activity for a Wintery Afternoon

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

Divining Dystopias

teen_blogging_contest_winner

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 Rashika Rao, age 14.

DiviningDystopias

Ever since The Hunger Games, the craze for teen dystopias has escalated exponentially- are the novels going past the point of no return? This teen certainly thinks so. As more and more YA dystopian novels are written and published, the authors all seem to be forgetting the difference between writing in the same genre and writing with the same outline.

Recently, I’ve started to realize just how cliché dystopian novels are: it’s getting to the point where, if you just give me the first couple pages and a couple of character names, I can often predict an entire series’ main plot line.

Here is a list of what I think are the top 10 clichés in modern dystopian novels (in no particular order):
1. Dysfunctional government: there is always something wrong with the governmental system.

Some people like to argue that that’s the point of a dystopian novel. But if you look up the definition of a dystopia, it qualifies as a “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad.” (verbatim from Google).

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like something worse to happen than corrupt government every now and then.

Another quick point: why are these officials always so violent? Torture, secret kidnappings, you name it, they’ve got it. The excuse is always that no one will stand up to them. But, quoting my AP U.S. History teacher here, “when you keep pushing people into a corner, eventually they’re going to push back.” Well, you defenders will say, that’s the point of the rebellion/rising/see #7! Okay. Fine. But how does our main character oh so conveniently get tangled up with them? And why is she/he (mostly she) always the key to their success?

Something everyone always forgets: These characters are just children. Since when have adults trusted children this much? Continue reading Divining Dystopias

Judging Books By Their Covers: US versus UK

union_jack“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It is one of the most common cliches in existence. And yet, during my trip to the UK this summer, I found myself doing just that. Books that I had already seen in the U.S. (or in some cases, already owned) looked so much more appealing with the covers that were designed for the UK. This made me ask several questions:

  • Why were different covers designed for the UK and the U.S., particularly given that the text itself was almost always identical?
  • What was it about the UK design sensibility that I liked?
  • Was I alone in my preference?
  • And, of course most importantly, how many books could I reasonably bring back in my suitcase? Continue reading Judging Books By Their Covers: US versus UK

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

For Fans of The Fault In Our Stars: What to Read Next

Fault In Our Stars Readalike GraphicNext week, the highly anticipated movie based on John Green’s 2012 Teens’  Top Ten winning title The Fault In Our Stars will be released. The first post I ever wrote for The Hub offered a list of books that fans of The Fault in Our Stars would enjoy and with the movie coming out so soon, now seems like a good time to add to this list.

Since my last post, I have discovered even more books that will appeal to fans of TFiOS, so whether you are looking for a book to occupy you until you see the movie or a list of books to fill your summer, hopefully you will find what you are looking for here.

SideEffectsMayVarySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy: Alternating between points of view and points in time, this story slowly reveals glimpses of Alice’s battle against cancer, but at its heart it is really the story of the relationship between Alice and her best friend Harvey, who she enlists to help her complete her bucket list. This is a book about what happens when you don’t die, and how difficult it can be to decide to grow as a person.

The F-It List by Julie Halpern: Another book about a bucket list, in this case, Alex is left to complete her best friend Becca’s bucket list when Becca is too sick to do most of the activities herself. After months of not talking due to Becca’s inexcusable actions on the day of Alex’s father’s funeral, the list helps to bring the two back together and allows Alex to work through her grief after her father’s death. Halpern creates characters who are real in both their strength and their flaws.  Continue reading For Fans of The Fault In Our Stars: What to Read Next

Books for Boys that Aren’t “Books for Boys”

Recently I was sitting in my library’s teen space with a few teens (three guys; two girls) chatting about movies, books, friends, and the Spongebob Squarepants version of the Game of Life when I had a bit of a revelation. This wasn’t really a new revelation but rather a confirmation of what seems like such an obvious fact: there are no such things as “books for boys.”

See!? Sometimes guys read Danielle Steele! (Photo by Flickr user Wei Tchou)
See!? Sometimes guys read Danielle Steele! (Photo by Flickr user Wei Tchou)

During this hanging out time, some boys insisting on showing me multiple trailers for YA movie adaptations: first, Divergent; then The Maze Runner; and finally, The Fault in Our Stars. They talked about how excited they were for these movies and how they couldn’t wait to see how the movies were different from the books. One of the boys said he watched the TFiOS trailer five (!) times in a row after it was released recently. This got me to thinking about the books and media these boys were interested in. They featured both guy and girl protagonists, they were cross a couple of different genres, and were written by both male and female authors.

I realized it doesn’t matter if a book is “for” a guy or a girl; the gender of the intended audience tends to get all mixed up when you factor in the power of a good story. Boys like stories; girls like stories. Readers in general like stories. We need to forget what we think about boys and reading and find them the stories they want. Continue reading Books for Boys that Aren’t “Books for Boys”