Since middle school, two of my best friends and I have shared the books we buy or borrow from the library. It is a pattern we follow to ensure that all of us read each book so we can discuss it without spoiling it for one another. Since each of us have different preferences, we read everything from classics to science fiction to advanced reader copies. I have found that the “mind-candy” novels we read (those that are sweet and pleasurable at first but really just rot your brain) are basically the same plot over and over again.
The first trend I noticed occurred when the Twilight saga became excessively popular.
For many families, the holiday season means presents, parties, and lots of food. In my family, it means a detailed movie schedule and days spent at the movie theater. This means that on Thanksgiving, I found myself at the movie theater. As I watched preview after preview, I noticed how many movies would be coming out this year that were based on books. The next day, I saw The Life of Pi, which is based on the novel by Yann Martel. In the same week, I also saw Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final installment of the movies based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer. This trend of movie adaptations of books is not something new, and I have seen many movies that were based on a book that I have read.
Whenever I first hear about one of my favorite books being made into a movie, I always greet the news with excitement. I am eager to see my favorite characters and plot lines come to life in such a huge way. Additionally, it is pleasing to know that other people who may have never picked up a novel that I love will be introduced to something amazing. However, this excitement is also accompanied with apprehension. After all, I have my own ideas and interpretations about the characters and stories that I read about, so it can be upsetting to see someone interpret things completely differently and ruin the story for me. Because of my emotional attachment to the books that I read, it is very easy for me to be disappointed with the film adaptations.
Recently, I saw the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. I read the novel written by Stephen Chbosky this past summer and instantly loved it. At the time that I started reading the book, the movie had already been announced, and I was looking forward to it; finishing The Perks of Being a Wallflower increased this anticipation. The film did not disappoint. While some parts of the book did not make it into the film, the movie mostly stayed true to the novel. The actors’ depictions of the characters were, in my opinion, almost spot on. What I think really made the movie such a good adaptation of the book was the fact that the author wrote the screenplay and directed and produced the theatrical version.
Today is a bittersweet one for many people — with yesterday’s release of Breaking Dawn, Part 2, night has officially fallen on the Twilight Saga. Love Twilight or hate it, we can’t deny the influence it had on the world of YA fiction. From paving the way for more teen/adult crossover blockbusters to propelling the paranormal romance genre to unheard of levels of popularity, Twilight left a huge mark on YA culture. Let’s explore some of Twilight‘s lasting legacy in YA literature, shall we?
I’m sure that pre-Twilight books included love triangles, but Twilight elevated love triangles to a team sport, one that every teen book wanted to play. Without Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, would we have Team Gale vs. Team Peeta? Team Will vs. Team Jem? Team Damon vs. Team Stefan? Team Cam vs. Team Daniel? Maybe not. Of course, that might not be a bad thing…
When I enter a book on my Goodreads account, I use the review space not so much for reviews but for quick reactions, or a little color commentary. A while back I was singing the praises of one particular and highly awesome audiobook (by Richard Peck) and then very much lamenting the fact that most adults probably would not discover this treasure unless a child was involved. Too bad because, as we book-pushers know, the pleasure of reading transcends format, genre, and intended audience and can take many forms.
Who is ready and willing to read outside of their prescribed book market? Teachers, librarians, writers, booksellers, and those in the publishing industry. But what about Harry Potter you say? And of course, we now have The Hunger Games (at present, you can spot anyone from age 9 to 90 carrying that book). Does this mean that the wider world has begun to cast off the shackles preventing them from exploring the wonders of fiction designated for youth? I’m not ready to declare victory just yet. I realize that as a librarian, I am so immersed in my YA book evaluation, purchasing, face-out shelving, book clubs, blogging, and book talking that I’m slightly in danger of losing perspective on the world outside of book-centric circles. The real world: where high school teachers only deign to recommend and assign classics, where people have no idea what YA stands for, and where people assume they know what teen lit is all about and that it’s not for them. I’m happily in my librarian bubble where I get to interact on a daily-basis with all sorts of fabulous library users and excited teens who know exactly what I’m talking about.
Thus, I require evidence of the mainstream media and pop culture variety to really believe that the tides are turning. Sure, sure, The Hunger Games movie situation is good proof, but it’s just one book, and does one phenomenally successful book lead to wider readership of any kind? I think it does. I refer to it as the Harry Potter Effect. So here, in no particular order, are some further tidbits of the evolution-in-process, the building of consensus, if you will, that if it’s a good book people will read it, no matter the label.
It’s the beginning of the end, folks–for the Twilight series that is. As any Twi-fan knows, Breaking Dawn, Part 1 premiered last weekend, and it’s only a matter of time until “Part 2” wraps up the series in a happy little bow. Whether they like the Twilight saga or not, astute commentators must agree that those books changed the shape of teen literature, propelling paranormal romance, and vampires, to the top of the charts.
But have the blood-drinking sophisticates started to overstay their welcome? November 14th’s Hub poll determined that of all the trends in teen literature, “Vampires” was the one most Hub readers wanted to see go. So The Hub is here to ask the question “What next?” Towards which creature should we direct our adulation–or mockery? Who will put the stake in the vampire trend? Let’s examine the options.
Teens’ Top Ten is a â€œteen choiceâ€ list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Each day during the month of May, The Hub will feature a post about Teens’ Top Ten. Be sure to check in daily as we visit past winners and current nominees!
I’ve been looking at the list of the past eight years of Teens’ Top Ten and there is definitely something to notice. Series play a role in what gets on the list. Now I know that this isn’t shocking news to you, however, it is an interesting opportunity to look back at the series that have consumed readers over the past many years and consider what their inclusion tells us about teen reading. For example series on the list over the life of the list includes:
In 2003 and 2005 Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books were on the list.
Harry Potter appeared in 2004 and 2006
Maximum Ride titles appeared in 2005, 2007, and 2008
2006 was the year that Twilight appeared on the list with New Moon on in 2007, Eclipse in 2008, and Breaking Dawn in 2009.