Skip to content

Tag: retellings

The Age of the Retelling

Aliens. Vampires. Ghosts. Dystopians. These are some huge themes that pop culture has gone through in the past decade. From YA novels, to movies, to television shows there is always a theme that prevails for a period of time. Our current theme? Retellings.

The current line up of new movies are either remakes and reboots of originals or books and comics turned into movies, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, and Deadpool leading the way. Current popular TV shows are either retellings or revivals of past shows, with the masses being particularly excited about Fuller House and X-Files.

Retellings abound in YA literature as well, not only in rewriting classics, such as Marta Acosta’s retelling of Jane Eyre entitled Dark Companion, but many retellings of fairy tales. What is it about retellings that catch our attention? Is it the themes that we know and love? Is it the comfort of the familiar, like we are coming home? I am sure the answer is different for everyone, but there is no doubt that retellings are taking the pop culture world by storm.

fairy tale retellings young adult literature

As with many themes, certain books quickly take the spotlight, while some others quietly gain attention. The same goes with retellings. Below are some books that all your friends may have been telling you about, books you haven’t heard of, and new books to keep an eye out for.

2 Comments

Gothic, Horror, and Mysteries: YA Fiction for Fans of Edgar Allan Poe

It’s the time of year where readers start asking for creepy and the supernatural, and teens flock to stories of gothic horror and murder mysteries. There’s no shortage of young adult fiction in these genres and there’s even quite the list of Poe-inspired works. This is a list to satisfy those with an appetite for the macabre or mysterious!

young adult fiction for fans of edgar allan poe | YALSA's The Hub

Comments closed

From Classic to Contemporary: Pride and Prejudice to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries… and eventually to Austenland

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion… but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Pryde and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful… or maybe not.

prideandprejudice2The Classic: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

In one of the most quoted and famous novels of all time, Miss Elizabeth Bennet makes astute observations about the societal structures in place around her while simultaneously trying to avoid her mother’s attempts to marry her off to an appropriate man.  While encouraging her elder sister’s romantic attachment to a very eligible bachelor, Lizzie meets his friend, Mr. Darcy, and the two immediately come to detest one another.  Through a series of unfortunate interactions and the verbal machinations of others, Lizzie’s hatred for Darcy continues to deepen and when he unexpectedly proposes, she refuses.  When her youngest sister, Lydia, elopes with a dashing, but devious soldier, Mr. Darcy covers the scandal and sees them properly wed.  Upon these actions, Lizzie knows that Mr. Darcy truly must care for her and she must admit to her own growing feelings for him.

Comments closed

New Takes on Star-Crossed Love

…these hot days is the mad blood stirring…

These words from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet have always made me think that Romeo and Juliet’s frenzied, wildly hopeful, passionate, and fateful/fatal love affair would have been a different story if it was set in a cold climate. Not that there isn’t probably a wintery version of the story out there. Romeo and Juliet has captivated audiences for centuries with its universal themes of forbidden love, loyalty, and family pride.

The book adaptation of West Side Story is consistently on the summer reading list in my library’s community, which may be another reason I’ve been thinking of the theme of star-crossed love in literature and the way this eternal story has been used to reflect current culture. West Side Story tells the story through the clash between the Puerto Rican Sharks and the Polish-American Jets in 1950s New York city. Fifty years later, new adaptations present thoughtful, challenging, and very current twists on the classic theme.

Farizan_IYCBM_300dpiIn If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (available August 2013), Sahar is a teenager living in Iran, dedicated to her widowed father, her studies and hopes for entry to medical school, and her best friend Nasrin, with whom she has been in love since she was six years old. But in Iran, their love is illegal. If it were discovered they could be imprisoned or even executed. The stakes are raised when Nasrin’s family announces her engagement to Reza, a handsome doctor who seems like a brilliant match for their daughter. Sahar is broken-hearted, and it is the tenacity of her love that both leads to the central contradiction of the story and gives its universal appeal, because Sahar learns that while homosexuality is illegal in Iran, gender re-assignment surgery is not only legal, but even funded by the government. To be a man trapped in a woman’s body is viewed as nature’s mistake. To love Nasrim openly, would Sahar sacrifice who she is?

Comments closed

From Classic to Contemporary: Persuasion to For Darkness Shows the Stars

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Pryde and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

The Classic: Persuasion by Jane Austen

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever.

persuasionAnne Elliot had once been happily betrothed to a poor but kind naval officer, Frederick Wentworth. When both her family and a trusted friend objected to the match, however, Anne broke the arrangement and spent the next nine years deeply regretting her action. When Wentworth reemerged a newly rich and successful Captain after the Napoleonic Wars, Anne’s family was on the brink of financial ruin. To help defray costs, they’d rented their home and lands to Wentworth’s sister. Forced to be in each other’s company once again, Anne and Frederick must each decide whether they can be persuaded to put aside their own hurt and mistrust to reconcile with the one person they each treasured the most.

4 Comments

From Classic to Contemporary: Romeo and Juliet to Warm Bodies

Classics — whether they are novels, plays, or epics — offer us great characters, interesting plots, and lots of things for discussion … but sometimes they can be a little tough to tackle. Sometimes we adore them, but sometimes we can’t get past page 3, let alone the requisite 50. That doesn’t mean that we should give up what they have to offer, though, does it? Many of today’s authors try to use these classic works as a starting-off point to write a more modern version. If done well, these contemporary versions can have a huge impact and impart the same wisdom that made the earlier story gain its classic status. Jessica Miller and I decided to find and examine some great pairs of classics and their contemporary rewrites to see if they are successful … or maybe not.

The Classic:  William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

romeo and juliet folger shakespeare library coverBy the time you’re in high school, you’ve probably been overexposed to this story and all the literary analysis that goes with it. You’ve seen both the Franco Zeffirelli film from 1968 and the Baz Luhrmann one starring a much younger Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, and Paul Rudd. And there’s another version slated to be released later this year in the UK, adapted by Downton Abbey favorite Julian Fellowes. If for some reason, you’ve never read it — not even the Wishbone version — here’s the breakdown.*

There are two families in Verona, a town in Italy (where Shakespeare set most of his plays. There’s a lot of talk about how he stole a bunch of these stories from Italian stories, but we’ll save that for another day). These families, the Montagues and the Capulets, and all of their servants, friends, and allies, have been at each other’s throats for as long as anyone can remember. When we enter the story, the violence between the youths of the families has escalated to the point where the Prince of the city has had to intervene.

Meanwhile, some of the Montague cousins (and family friend Mercutio) have discovered that the Capulets are having a party and decide to crash. They implore Romeo, the son of the Montague patriarch, to join them. He’s lovesick over some girl named Rosaline — whom we never see — and reluctantly decides to go. There, he sees and immediately falls for Juliet, who, it turns out, is the daughter of the Capulet patriarch. Much drama ensues, confusion prevails, and what everyone in 1597 thought was going to end up like a comedy (well, what they thought if they weren’t listening to the prologue) ends in tragedy and death.

The Contemporary: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

1 Comment

New Tales from Old: Adult Fairy Tales for YA Lit Lovers

These illustrations came from:Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Kay Nielsen, illustrator. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925.
Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Kay Nielsen, illustrator. 1925.
Today is Tell A Fairy Tale Day, a possibly-made-up-by-the-Internet day, but a worthwhile and exciting day nonetheless. In honor of such an auspicious occasion, and in an attempt to put a slightly different spin  on the topic, here are a handful of adult re-tellings that fans of YA literature are sure to find compelling. One caveat: these are adult books. Obviously that label has much less to do with any inherent level of sophistication and more to do with marketing (and possibly content) since we here all know just how complex and excellent YA novels can be. Most, but not all, of these books feature teen (or at least young adult) protagonists, but all were published as adult titles, and some are quite dark, forthright, and potentially disturbing, just like many of the best fairy tales. In other words, for many of these, think Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels rather than Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted.

That said, may I suggest you celebrate Tell A Fairy Tale Day by curling up with one of the following. (All fairy tale links are to the original tales as presented by the extraordinary Sur La Lune Fairy Tales site.)

7 Comments