Paranormal Romance is a sub-genre of Romance. For a novel to be a Paranormal Romance, a simple thing must occur: love must begin between a human and a supernatural being (whether wholly supernatural or partially, just as long as there are supernatural elements present). However, this can be a broad interpretation. Usually, the protagonist (often the human) in these novels is put in some kind of danger, where they come to realize they can overcome this danger either on their own or with the help of the supernatural love interest.
Main characters include both humans and supernatural beings. The supernatural being can be wholly supernatural or partly, and include but are not limited by the following “types”: vampire, werewolf, fairy, magician, mermaid, zombie, psychic, ghost, demon hunter, demon, angel, shapeshifter, dragon, and gods or goddesses. Additionally, the human in Paranormal Romances can have a touch of the paranormal as well. An example is the teen psychic that can see the ghost. Quite often, when it comes to paranormal romances written for teens, a love triangle is involved. There could be more than one human, or more than one supernatural being in the triangle. Continue reading Genre Guide: Paranormal Romances for Teens
It’s back to school season, which elicits excitement from some, but groans from others. When I first went back to library school, as much as I enjoyed my classes, I sort of wished they were more from the Rupert Giles school of Library Science, with a syllabus that looks something like this.
Suffice to say: I sympathize with teens who may be more excited to get lost in a fantasy world than dig into algebra homework (not that algebra isn’t important. It is). So for those study breaks when one just needs to escape, here are some fantasy and paranormal novels in school settings.
As a life-long devotee of fantasy fiction, I’ve frequently defended the value of stories that feature dragons, magically gifted heroines, or angst-ridden werewolves. And while I’ve often stated that fantasy fiction isn’t necessarily an escape from reality simply because it includes magic or ghosts, even the most committed fan must acknowledge that the genre is incredibly disconnected from reality in fatal ways. For one, fantasy fiction remains an overwhelmingly white world–an area of literature where you might find vampires or psychic detectives but rarely characters of color.
This lack of diversity is a widespread problem in young adult literature and the larger publishing industry but speculative fiction is especially guilty of inequitable representation within its stories and industry. Just last week, The Guardian published an article by speculative fiction author & essayist Daniel José Older discussing the insidious ways that systemic racism and white privilege has permeated the science fiction and fantasy publishing & fan communities. At last month’s YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium, there was an entire panel titled “Where Are The Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci-Fi?”, which Hub blogger Hannah Gómez recapped with great accuracy & insight.
So, how do we, as readers, fans, & promoters of these genres, demand & nurture fiction with imaginary worlds as diverse as the one we live in? To start, we need to read, buy, promote, and request titles by and about people of color. Accordingly, I pulled together some authors and titles to check out, focusing on fiction that falls on the fantasy side of speculative fiction. This list is far from comprehensive; for more titles, I recommend checking out Lee & Low’s genre-specific Pinterest board, Diversity in YA, and We Need Diverse Books.
2004 Edwards Award winnerUrsula K. Le Guin has long been considered one of the best and most beloved high fantasy writers; she’s also consistently written stories with people of color as protagonists–although film adaptions & book covers have often blatantly ignored this, white-washing characters like Ged, the brown-skinned protagonist of A Wizard of Earthsea. The 2013 Edwards Award winnerTamora Pierce also includes characters of color in her novels; her Emelan books feature both black & multiracial protagonists.
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!
As this recurring feature on The Hub clearly indicates, I love fantasy fiction. But even a fan like myself must acknowledge that the genre has limitations, especially in terms of diversity. Speculative fiction has remained a fairly white, cis-gendered, & straight world for a long time. The fact that there seem to be more dragons and robots than LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy & sci-fi novels is shameful and disheartening, especially to the genres’ LGBTQ+ fans. So in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, I set out to overview the current status of LGBTQ+ representation in young adult fantasy and science fiction.
The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, or in other words, the twenty-four hour period with the greatest amount of sunlight. This year in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice will take place on this coming Saturday, June 21st, and in the southern hemisphere on December 21st. Just think of all those hours of natural light to read by in a comfy hammock! This definitely calls for a reading list.
The roots of summer solstice celebrations are pagan and over time also became associated with the Christian St. John’s Day. Currently, the summer solstice is celebrated by many, including practitioners of Wicca and also residents of northern Europe, where it is a secular festivity. The summer solstice is particularly important in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the summer solstice, known as Midsummer, is even a public holiday occurring on June 24th.
There are several young adult novels concerning or including the summer solstice, in particular a few which have been published fairly recently. The following are a sampling. Grab one this Saturday, go relax in the sunshine and enjoy!
Shadow of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
In the first book of the Carrier trilogy, Carrier of the Mark, American teen Megan, who has moved with her family to a small town in Ireland, learns that she is actually the human representation of air, one of the four elements. In book two of the series, Shadow of the Mark, Megan and her boyfriend Adam, who is the element of water, and his siblings Ãine (Earth) and RÃan (Fire) must get themselves ready for the summer solstice Alignment, a rite in which the four elements become one. There are various complications in the novel, including the fact that any union between Megan and Adam may end up killing him. There are also Druids and knights who are sometimes of assistance to the four teens and sometimes in conflict with each other. Megan herself must decide to take action if things are going to come to a positive resolution in this suspenseful paranormal romance. Continue reading Summer Solstice Reads
In 2008, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight hit the big time with the release of movie version. Millions flocked to the theaters, then to bookstores and libraries to finish Stephenie Meyers’ saga. Suddenly, everywhere we looked, there were vampires: scary, sexy, sparkly, fangsâ€¦ you could take your pick. More books hit the shelves (or were discovered) like PC Cast’s House of Night series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Not to mention the many TV shows cropping up everywhere, such as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s Vampire Diaries. It was vampire frenzy. Then the inevitable backlash hitâ€”hard. Folks had clearly hit a saturation point with vampires (particularly Twilight.) It became cool to loudly proclaim ones’ hatred of Twilightâ€”and all things vampire. Twilight spoofs were being produced, such as Nightlight: a Parody by the Harvard Lampoon and the Vampires Suck movie.
Fast forward to 2013 when Holly Black (author of both children’s and young adult gold like The Spiderwick Chronicles and the overlooked but spectacular Curse Workers trilogy) offers The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This book has everything a lover of gothic reads could want: creepy cool cover art, a terrifying opening scene, scary and dangerously hot romance, flawed narrator, realistic intriguing side characters, and a vividly described falling apart Las Vegas-like town under constant camera surveillance (showing another frightening side of reality TV like that depicted in the Hunger Games trilogy.) In fact, in this librarian’s humble opinion, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown has nary a flaw to be foundâ€”except that it’s about vampires. As Karyn Silverman of the Someday My Printz Will Come blog writes, â€œâ€¦I think the anti-vampire bias runs so deep in most librarians these days that Coldtown risks a cold shoulder as a result.â€ I fear Silverman might be correct in her assessment, as I haven’t heard much buzz from other readers about Coldtownâ€”unless of course, I’m the one who brought it up (which I do, often and loudly). On a bright note, Coldtown‘s appearance on YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list offers hope for this overlooked gem. Continue reading The Rise and Fall of YA Lit Trends: Timing is Everything