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

2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: New Adults

Sorry this wrap-up is so late, dear Hubbers – conferences always knock me out for at least a week after. Anyways, I was happy to attend the “New Adulthood: Literature & Services for NA Patrons” presented by Meg Hunt Wilson, Teen Librarian & Reference Librarian in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (my home state!) and our own Hub member manager, Molly Wetta, Collection Development Librarian at the Lawrence (Kansas) Public Library. They focused on  four aspects of the NA market – what is new adult, appeal and marketing, booktalks, and library services. I was thoroughly fascinated by their presentation, and without further ado – here’s the highlights of their talk at the 2015 YALSA YA Services Symposium.

ya_symposium_2015

 

So – what is New Adult?

New adult titles are geared towards teens who are just past high school life – 18-25 years of age is the common age range. NA books began as a self-publishing phenomenon, but eventually move on to the “regular” publishing world. The books are mostly set on college campuses, are relationship centric, fast-paced, and emotionally intense. And, oooh! Are they ever steamy! As one of my teens told me when I told her about this panel: “aren’t those the books with a lot of sex in them?” Continue reading 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium: New Adults

YA Literary Trope: The Repressed Protagonist

Welcome back readers, to another exploration of literary tropes in Young Adult fiction.  We have covered a lot of ground in our examination of common recurring themes including; The Old Clunker I Drive, The I Already Know you Introduction, The I Have to Take Care of my Parent(s), The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (and Boy), the A-Hole Friends, and the Awesome Outfit.  Now let’s have some fun with some repressed protagonists.  Here are some main characters that do not know how to have fun, are too afraid to try anything new, or need to come out of their shells.

YA Literary Tropes: The Repressed Protagonists | YALSA's The Hub

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2002 Best Books forYoung Adults, 2002 Top Ten Books for Young Adults, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Teen’s Top Ten: 2003 & 2005) by Ann Brashares: Lena.  Brashares does a suburb job of fully developing all four of the girls who wear the magic pants.  No girl is an afterthought, no girl is a clone, and no girl is without her issues.  Lena’s deal is that she is repressed.  All of her friends describe Lena as beautiful but withdrawn.  Lena’s reluctance to go anywhere new is first challenged when she is forced to spend the summer in Greece with her grandparents.  One repressed protagonist plus a cute Greek guy plus a pair of magic jeans equals… lots of personal growth for Lena!

Continue reading YA Literary Trope: The Repressed Protagonist

Booklist: If You Like Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Love Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell? We’ve got your next favorite book. Whether you liked the retro setting, the opposites attract romance, or comics & mix tapes, there’s something here for you. If you’re a librarian or library worker looking for suggestions to offer readers, this list includes both older and new titles. If You Like Eleanor & Park | YALSA's The Hub

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Readers won’t be able to help but cheer for Willowdean, an overweight teen who loves Dolly Parton and enters a local beauty pageant to prove a point to her mom, her town, and herself. Funny and moving, this is just a delight to read. The small town Texas town comes alive, the complicated friendship dynamics are nuanced, and the complications of feeling of first love ring true. This is a fun, feel good novel that’s the perfect antidote to Eleanor & Park’s heart-wrenching story.

Love is Mixtape by Rob Sheffield

While this is a memoir written for adults rather than a YA novel, fans of Eleanor and Park may enjoy Rolling Stone editor and rock critic Sheffield’s story of life, love, and mix tapes.

Tape by Steve Camden

Amelia finds a tape in her mother’s belongings, which turns out to be a recorded diary of Ryan, who lived 20 years ago. This well-structured and emotional novel weaves both stories together with plenty of twists and turns. Continue reading Booklist: If You Like Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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

Get Ready for Paper Towns with Some Readalikes

papertowns_movieWith the movie Paper Towns coming out in theaters in just a couple days, there seems to be a buzz in the air about John Green once again. Paper Towns, like all Green’s books, holds its own right up there on my bookshelf along with An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in our Stars, and Looking for Alaska.

The movie is directed by Jake Schreier and is based on the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten winning title by John Green. I love how the story is cleverly declared as an American comedy-drama mystery film. That seems to sum it all up right? Paper Towns features the adorable Quentin Jacobsen who has loved his gal-pal neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were young. One night entices Quentin to go out on the town and play a bunch of revenge pranks on her cheating boyfriend. The night is a whirlwind of fun and outrageous pranks that brings the two closer than ever. Then Margo suddenly decides to disappear without a trace. What I love about Quentin is that he never gives up on Margo and that is so darn romantic. After Margo turns up missing Quentin soon unravels the pieces of the puzzle (literally) that she has left in her wake. Paper Towns comes out Friday, July 24, so don’t miss this coming-of-age story that you know you won’t want to end!

Here are five books that satisfy your taste for the young and the restless until the Paper Towns movie comes out.

  • Fangirl Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) – Cath struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words, and worrying about her fragile father.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green (2006 Printz Award winner) – Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School includes making good friends and playing great pranks. A sudden fatality shakes Miles to the core and he contemplates what life and death are all about and how to carry on after you lose that one person that lights up your life.
  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Thorp – In the last months of high school, Sutter Keely stays drunk or high most of the time, but that could change when he forms a friendship with his classmate Aimee.
  • Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer – Carson Phillips decides to create a litstruck by lightningerary magazine to bolster his college application, which means he needs submissions. Carson resorts to blackmailing his classmates and he doesn’t realize how his actions will be the cause and effect of his plans for the future.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2008 Best Books for Young Adults) – Clay Jenkins finds a mysterious box with his name on it filled with 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah a classmate who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Clay must listen to the tapes and follow the clues that Hannah leaves to find out the mystery of her suicide.

-Kimberli Buckley

Book/Life Pairings

MultitaskingFinalHow do you fit reading into life? Everywhere of course! Here are some fun suggestions of how to incorporate books into (almost) all parts of your life. I guess there are some events where books don’t belong… But you may be surprised by these multitasking opportunities.

Running/Vigorous Exercise

Some fast paced audio that will make you want to work out every day and never stop!

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Knife of Never Letting Go

 

The Knife Of Never Letting Go
(and Chaos Walking series)

(2011 Odyssey Honor Audiobook, 2011 Top Ten Audio Books for Young Adults, 2009 Best Books for Young Adult)

by Patrick Ness and Nick Podehl

The action-packed audio book will help you keep up an energetic pace and be thoroughly entertained all the while.  Podehl’s amazing narration enhances Ness’ Sci-fi world which consists of only men whose thoughts are audible. Bonus: best talking dog voice ever.

Girl, Stolen

by April Henry and Kate Rudd

(2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Here is a thrill ride of a book that will keep you on your toes.  Follow Cheyenne, a sixteen year old girl who is blind, as she gets kidnapped accidentally by a car thief.  Clever Cheyenne methodically and systematically plans her escape while poor mistreated wannabe criminal Griffin tries to do the right thing in spite of his horrendous family.

Divergent (and sequels)

(2012 Quick Picks for Young Adults , 2012 Teens Top Ten )

Divergent Audio
Divergent Audio

by Veronica Roth and Emma Galvin

This nail-biting gritty tale is perfect to listen to and get in shape!  You will run like a Dauntless trying to catch a train as you join Tris on her epic search for the truth in post-apocalyptic Chicago.

 

Continue reading Book/Life Pairings

Let’s Hear it For the Dads in YA Books

I know it’s very common for parents, especially fathers, to be absent or portrayed negatively in YA books. Not every father is Atticus Finch, but there are more dads in teen books that are loving and supportive than you might think. Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I wanted to celebrate some admirable dads found in YA books.

All I can think is that I want her more than anything. I want her more than I’ve ever wanted anything ever.” (Bobby, 16, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, winner of the 2004 Michael Printz Award and 2004 Coretta Scott King Award)

Photo Jun 17, 8 03 36 PMThis is the book I immediately think of when I think of fathers in YA books. It might have been published in 2003 but it’s still fresh in my mind, even after all the years since I first read it. It’s not just that it’s about a teen father, but it’s also because it’s written from the father’s point of view instead of the mother’s. In this companion book to Heaven, Bobby is an African American teenager struggling to raise his adored baby daughter Feather by himself after the baby’s mother tragically dies.

 

“I am a father.” “I am Jupiter’s father.” “I will always be Jupiter’s father.” (Joseph, 14, Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, coming out November 3, 2015)

Photo Jun 17, 9 25 51 PMJoseph may be practically a child himself, but by aged thirteen he had been incarcerated for allegedly trying to kill a teacher, and is the father of a three-month-old daughter named Jupiter that he’s never seen. He will do anything he can to find her. This is a beautifully written story that will make you cry but also uplift you.

 

 

“I’m glad to hear you think you ought to feel guilty.” “I was beginning to wonder whether we’d brought you up properly.” (Derk, The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones)

Photo Jun 17, 7 17 37 PMAfter they are unwillingly chosen as tour leaders, unconventional wizard Derk and his magical family try to stop the devastating tours of their world arranged by the tyrannical Mr. Chesney. Derk specializes in genetics, specifically in creating new animals & the family consists of both humans and animals (that talk). Teenaged son Blake has a fifteen-year-old brother, Kit, a griffin. Kit’s murderously angry with Mr. Chesney for his disrespectful treatment of Derk and the family and the quote above is what Derk says in response to Kit’s confession that he wanted to kill Mr. Chesney but felt guilty about it. Blake wants to attend Wizard’s University but his father Derk is dead set against it. Mara, Blake’s mom says, “…Your father thinks, rightly or wrongly, that you’ll end up as miserable as he was, or you’ll find yourself doing nothing but look after the tours like the rest of them. And that would break his heart, Blake.”

Continue reading Let’s Hear it For the Dads in YA Books

Notes from a Teens’ Top Ten Book Group Participant: Fangirl Fantasy Casting

TeensTopTen_winner_WMTeens across the nation voted for the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten list, and the winners have been announced– but did you know how the books are nominated for this list in the first place?

Books are nominated by members of Teens’ Top Ten book groupsin school and public libraries around the country. To give you a glimpse of some of the teens behind this process, we’re featuring posts from Teens’ Top Ten book groups here on The Hub. Today we have a video creation from Marissa Muller of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans. 

I love reading books about adventure, romance, and fantasy. I especially enjoy reading books with a strong and relatable female main character. I read because I find it relaxing and it helps get my mind off the problems I’m facing in my world. Reading transports me to the deepest parts of my imagination and lets me live out a thousand different dreams. What I like about being a Teens’ Top Ten / YA Galley Project club is that we are not only reading the books but we as readers feel connected to those books because we are giving feedback to the author and publishers.

I was inspired to make my fantasy casting of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl because one, it helps people better visualize and immerse themselves in a book, and two, I would love to see this book one day become a movie.

 

Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA

TeenBooks

Adults reading young adult  books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it!  YA  has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.)  Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.

Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions?  Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance.   There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books.  Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works)  can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.

Horror/Serial Killers

i hunt killers barry lyga coverJames Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero.  Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.

rottersStephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner) and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner) Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!

Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.

Edgar Allen Poe fans can’t help but enjoy Bethany Griffin’s The Fall and Masque of the Red Death couplet. These atmospheric tales were inspired by Poe’s short stories.   It’s also a refreshing change of pace to find quality literary horror featuring strong female characters. Continue reading Adult Genre Readers: Break out of a Reading Rut with YA