Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Different for Boys by Patrick Ness

  • Different for Boys
  • by Patrick Ness
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Release date: May 14, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781536228892

Ant Stevenson has three best friends: Charlie, Josh Smith, and Jack Taylor, and they became best friends all because they were sitting together alphabetically. Anthony “Ant” Stevenson isn’t sure when he stopped being a virgin. Or even if he has. The rules aren’t always very clear when it comes to boys who like boys. It’s different for boys when they do stuff together, like hang out. Or when they try out for soccer or football.
Content Warning: Homophobia

This is a good candidate for QPRR. It has themes of friendship, masculinity, finding oneself, and sexuality. You really feel yourself get into the story with Ant, Charlie, Josh, and Jack. It’s about boys figuring out that they might have changed, and what they want to do with their lives.

For readers who also enjoyed the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman, and Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

– Molly Sprague-Rice

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: March 14, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, July 29 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Burn cover art

Burn by Patrick Ness; narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Release date: 06-02-20
ISBN: 978-1094167534

In 1950’s rural Washington state, mixed race Sarah’s father hires a dragon as a last ditch attempt to save their farm.  Meanwhile she doesn’t realize she is the coming end of an ancient dragon prophecy.  Meanwhile a boy trained to be her assassin is on his way, and the local policeman has his cruel eye on her and her Japanese boyfriend.

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, July 29 Edition

Monthly Monday Polls: Current and Upcoming YA page-to-screen adaptations

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubHappy August, and happy Monday, Hub readers.

Last month, we asked about your favorite historical fiction set in 18th century North America. A whopping 48% of you voted for Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains and/or its sequel, Forged (good news for fans of the series; the third and final volume, Ashes, has a tentative publication date of November 20, 2016). The second and third most popular choices were, respectively, either volume of M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (25%), followed by any of the 15 titles by Ann Rinaldi depicting the era (21%). Joseph Bruchac’s Winter People garnered 6% of the vote; The Portsmouth Alarm, by Terri A. DeMitchell, did not receive any votes.

This month, as many of us take refuge in that classic summertime heat-busting destination, the air-conditioned refrigerated movie theater, the Hub wants to know: which current or upcoming YA/cross-over page-to-screen adaptation are you most excited about?

[poll id=”219″]

Continue reading Monthly Monday Polls: Current and Upcoming YA page-to-screen adaptations

It’s Your (Monthly) Monday Poll: May

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubHappy first Monday of May, Hub readers!

Last month, we asked which series finale or next installment you’re most looking forward to this spring, and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King was the favorite by a landslide (48% of the vote!). Tied for second were The Crown, Kiera Cass’ final book in the Selection series, and The Last Star, the final book of Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy, with 16% percent each. A Court of Mist and Fury was a close third, with 14%, and The Rose and the Dagger had 8% of the vote.

Today we’re going to revisit a poll theme from several years ago: your favorite YA siblings, updated with some more recently-published characters. Did we leave out your favorite siblings? Tell us in the comments! Continue reading It’s Your (Monthly) Monday Poll: May

Is This Just Fantasy? : The Chosen One

If you read even a moderate amount of fantasy, you are likely familiar with one of its most common tropes: the chosen one, also known as the fated savior or destined heroine.  While there are many different types of fantasy being written and read today, certain patterns repeat frequently and the ‘chosen one’ trope is no exception.  This trope usually involves the inclusion of a character (usually the protagonist) who has in some way been marked as especially gifted or otherwise uniquely equipped to complete a special mission.   Whether they’ve been chosen by a deity, a prophecy, or circumstances of birth, chosen ones in fantasy tales must often complete quests, battle evil forces, and make difficult, pivotal choices in order to achieve their destinies.  This particular trope is far from limited to fantasy literature–it shows up in all kinds of science fiction and fantasy media and the template is often connected to mythologist Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth or hero’s journey.
fantasy series chosen one


As a longtime fantasy fan, I find the ‘chosen one’ trope can be a double-edged sword for the genre.  On one hand, any popular pattern becomes stale after a while and stories that depend heavily on the ‘chosen one’ narrative can easily fall into traps of lazy plotting or derivative content.  ‘Chosen one’ stories can include protagonists who are unbelievably talented or inhumanly heroic.  These characters often react in their ‘chosen’ status in predictable ways, usually resisting or attempting to escape or avoid their destinies.  However, this trope has remained prevalent for a reason, especially in fantasy for and about teenage characters.  After all, it’s a narrative that investigates the difficult process of coming to understand one’s role in the larger world and battling with the frightening concept of a future–struggles common to adolescents even without magical prophecies hanging over their heads.

Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy? : The Chosen One

What’s In a (Book) Name?

It was Wild Bill Shakespeare himself who once penned the words “What’s in a name. That which we call a rose/By any other name should smell as sweet.” The words are spoken by one of the Bard’s more famous female characters, Juliet of House Capulet. She’s telling the hours-old love of her life that she doesn’t care that his last name of Montague brands him an enemy of her house. Whatever his name was, she would love him anyways.

image via Flickr User Leeds Museums and Galleries
CC v. 2.0 image via Flickr User Leeds Museums and Galleries

Once you’re able to part the curtain of deep sighs and introspective smiles at this grand romantic gesture, however, you find that you can’t count on Juliet’s statement as book recommendation advice. And really, shouldn’t that be what’s most important here? I mean, that play would be even better if it was about Juliet recommending books to Romeo rather than “falling in love” in the course of three days and faking her own death and being dumb and…and…and… Continue reading What’s In a (Book) Name?

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Libba Bray

1. Do not give up piano lessons to play basketball. That is the second dumbest idea you will ever have. (The first dumbest will involve dropping acid and going to see Aliens, which is a Category Five mistake.)

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

I was going to tell you about the time I was reading Libba Bray’s Rebel Angels in a hotel in Belgravia, London, and how we were spending the next day at the Imperial War Museum (housed in the central portion of what was formerly Bethlem Royal Hospital, or “Bedlam”) and how it was all atmospheric and creepy and whatnot (which it totally was) and I was going to tell you about how I dog-eared and sticky-noted The Sweet Far Thing until there were no sticky notes left to stick because I thought (think) it was brilliant and wanted to see if I could connect all the luminous dots and figure out how she’d made it all work.  And I was going to tell you how I spent the night before the ACTs at a New Order concert, which, now that I think about it will make a lot more sense once you read on.

But instead I am going to just point you directly to the interview below because it is EPIC.  I mean, this is not run of the mill epic, it is Libba Bray level EPIC, which means playlists, life lessons, the influence of PBS, aspirations to royalty, Holden Caufield, Gilda Radner, existential crises, blood, make-up, exceptional teachers, music, boys, theater, George Saunders, thoughtful advice, pathological honesty, and–in what is certainly the most epic author-to-author question ever featured in this series–Chris Pratt.  Just go, now.  (You might want something to drink, and a snack, fair warning.)

Thank you, Libba, for this jaw-dropping and utterly exceptional interview, and for your willingness to come face to face with the monster time and time again.

Always Something There to Remind Me

libba-bray-5Please describe your teenage self.

Oh, Lord.

Actually, I feel like that sentence could be the description.

I was a girl of extremes, which I don’t think is terribly uncommon for the teen years: Goofy. Hopeful. Sardonic. Weird. Insecure. Certain I was a freak who would never have a boyfriend. Sometimes melancholy and lonely. An introvert who fronted like an extrovert. Well-intentioned if a bit “high-spirited,” as my high school principal described me that time I got sent home from the Latin trip. A class clown type who was terrified that someone might see how truly vulnerable I was while also wishing someone would see how truly vulnerable I was, preferably a wisecracking, music-playing boy who also read Salinger. I was in love with theater, music, literature, art, fashion, and film. I wanted grand adventures. I wanted to make the world a better, fairer place. I wanted my life to have meaning. And I desperately wanted out of Denton, Texas. Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Libba Bray

Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues

As library workers, especially those of us who work with teens, our role can shift to “social worker” in an instant. Our teen patrons visit the library everyday and they begin to trust and confide in us.  Because most of us don’t have the training to work with at-risk youth, we can feel a little helpless but we don’t have to because we have the power of a good book.

About a year ago, a member of my book discussion group seemed to be questioning his sexuality and he never talked about it.  I gave him Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith to read because I thought the ending was perfect for his situation.  He loved the book and now he’s very open with his sexuality and he accepts who he is.  Did my recommendation help him? I don’t really know but I like to think it gave him some perspective.  When I see a teen who I think or know is struggling with a personal problem, I’ll strike up a book conversation on their next library visit asking them what they like to read.  If they are a reader, I’ll find a book from their favorite genre that deals with the subject they are struggling with.

In my library, I see homeless teens, teens with alcoholic parents, teens living with a dying parent, and teens dealing with gender identity and body image.  I used to feel powerless but after I recommended Grasshopper Jungle, I realized that I could be an effective adult in the lives of teens. Below are a list of good books that blend popular genres with social issues.  Gone are the days of feeling helpless. Say goodbye to sifting through numerous Google results.  You now possess the power of reader’s advisory in a flash.  You are the newest member of the Social Justice League!

Continue reading Diversify YA Life: Social Justice League-Reader’s Advisory for Teens Dealing with Social Issues

One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Patrick Ness

“We want to remember what it feels like when things mattered that much, because we want them to matter that much to us now.”

Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.

1:37 am, New Year’s Day 2014 I’m lying in bed quietly dripping tears, wondering whether this bodes ill or well for the coming year.  I don’t really believe in omens or resolutions or whatever, but still, in that moment, in the dark, it all seems weirdly significant and profound.  I feel like I should fling myself into the new year head-on.  I feel like I should be honest and wild and maybe not fearless, but at least bold.  I feel like if a monster comes calling for me I want to be the sort of person that would accept the challenge.  That’s the power of an extraordinary book, right?  That feeling that we’re left with, once we’ve stayed up way too late, turned the last page, exhaled.  

Patrick Ness writes extraordinary books, books that are both utterly absorbing in the moment and that linger long after The End.  I’m still mulling over the Chaos Walking books years later, and clearly A Monster Calls made quite an impression.  Here’s a cool thing, though: I’m pretty sure, despite never having met him, that Patrick Ness is also an extraordinary human being.  I did, as usual, a lot of background reading for this interview, and this guy is consistently thoughtful, articulate, creative, kind, and funny on top of it all.  (See below for proof.)  Plus, instead of watching a too-big-to-tackle disaster unfold before him, he did something and his fundraising to help with the Syrian refugee crisis has been inspiring and–with support from many, many authors, publishers, and readers– has raised a truly amazing amount of money.  (More information on his campaign can be found at his fundraising page.)  As Rainbow Rowell said, “the people I admire most in this world are the ones who put themselves out there & TRY. It’s so scary to try. It makes you vulnerable.”  Not sure I could admire author and all-around extraordinary human Patrick Ness more right now.  

His next book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here (October 6) is still a couple weeks away here in the U.S. but I simply couldn’t hold onto this interview any longer–it’s too good not to share.  (Notice how I refrained from calling it an “extraordinary interview”? I think it is, but I didn’t want to test your patience by using that word again.)  Thank you so much, Patrick, for taking the time to talk with me, for making me cry in the middle of the night and literally laugh out loud (see below), and for putting yourself out there.  I think you’re way more than medium nice.

Always Something There to Remind Me

Patrick Ness (c) Helen Giles 2012

Please describe your teenage self.

As complex and contradictory as any teenager.  Terribly shy, but also could make any classmate laugh (and they usually got in trouble while I sat there innocently).  Super-anxious but keeping it crammed down into my stomach.  Always, always, always, always, always with an eye towards getting away to college.  Tragic hair.  Just… tragic hair.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know that was a possible career at all.  I thought, in a sort of twisted logic, that only famous people were authors.  I never thought it would happen to me at all.  I still got an English degree, but was working as a corporate writer when, to my astonishment, I got a book deal.  That was a surprise.  A nice one.

What were your high school years like? 

High school was… all right, I guess.  Could have been a lot worse.  I had a seriously sharp tongue on me when I needed, so bullying was almost never a problem, but mostly I was just trying to be friendly, trying to have friends, making huge mistakes, figuring them out.

I had a job as a waiter in a steakhouse in high school (this job reappears in The Rest of Us Just Live Here), which was actually great.  Good money, got me out of the house, I could always request the Sunday morning shift so I didn’t have to go to church…

Really, though, high school was a bit of a waiting room.  As a gay kid, I was fairly certain my “real” life wouldn’t start until college, so I was biding my time until then.  I think that’s becoming less and less true, but not fast enough. Continue reading One Thing Leads to Another: An Interview with Patrick Ness

ALA Annual 2015: YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch Recap

The amazing group of authors participating in the Klatch.
The amazing group of authors participating in the Klatch.

I was lucky enough to attend the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco last week and attended the YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch sponsored by BLINK on Sunday, June 28th from 9 – 10 am. Allison Tran was there too and included some great photos in her post from the event.

I had the opportunity to have coffee while I met many of YALSA’s award winning authors, many of whom have appeared on one of YALSA’s six annual selected lists or have received one of YALSA’s five literary awards. In this speed-dating-like event, we sat at the tables and every five minutes or so the authors would come to our table to talk with us.

Participating authors included: M. T. Anderson, Leigh Bardugo, Deborah Biancotti, Virginia Boecker, Erin Bow, Martha Brockenbrough, Rae Carson, Selene Castrovilla, Carey Corp, Zak Ebrahim, Jack Gantos, Gail Giles, Amalie Howard, Jenny Hubbard, Bill Konigsberg, Michael Koryta, Daniel Kraus, Stephanie Kuehn, Susan Kuklin, Margo Lanagan, Lorie Langdon, Eric Lindstrom, Sophie Maletsky, Marissa Meyer, Jandy Nelson, Patrick Ness, Mitali Perkins, Kate Racculia, Luke Reynolds, William Ritter, Ginny Rorby, John Scalzi, Neal Shusterman, Andrew Smith, Allan Stratton, Nova Ren Suma, Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki, Scott Westerfeld, Carol Lynch Williams,  and Suzanne Young.

These were the YA Authors who came to my table and a little of what they said (any inaccuracies are solely my fault):

Photo Jul 05, 10 53 23 AMMitali Perkins talked about her latest middle grade book called Tiger Boy. 

She said that publishers didn’t think young people wanted to read about teen characters from other countries but that hasn’t been the case. Perkins wants young people to read across borders. She said she’s gotten letters from kids from all over the US – like rural Kansas. They connect with her books and there’s a power that readers have over the story. She said that one of her previous books, Bamboo People (2011 YALSA Top Ten Photo Jul 05, 10 54 17 AMBest Fiction for Young Adults), is on twelve state reading lists. It has two boys as the main characters and lots of action and it’s still a popular read, even though it came out in 2010 and is set in Burma. The fact that it’s a coming of age story is universal. Perkins has drawn inspiration for her writing because she said she’s traveled a lot and lived in Thailand, Boston and in the Bay Area. Tiger Boy is a tribute to her dad. He became a talented civil engineer and traveled all over the world. She said she “writes to the boy who doesn’t think he is a reader.”


Photo Jul 05, 11 13 41 AMStephanie Kuehn described her third book Delicate Monsters (after Complicit, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults) after Charm & Strange (2014 William C. Morris Award winner).Photo Jan 26, 1 32 40 PM

It’s a psychological mystery, set in Sonoma, CA and it has a lot of darkness to it. It features a female anti-hero. The girl was sent down from boarding school for almost killing another girl. She is cruel. She becomes reacquainted with a boy named Emerson she knew as a kid & they both have a connection with Emerson’s younger brother who sees visions of people dying. It’s told from a third person point-of-view because it’s easier to tell that way as it shifts from the different perspectives of the characters. Kuehn says her main character is a psychopath but there’s a humanity to her too. “We share common experiences – they’re human monsters.”

Continue reading ALA Annual 2015: YALSA YA Author Coffee Klatch Recap