This past year I had the immense pleasure to serve as chair for the 2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee. It was a really great year for audiobooks and my committee was fortunate to consider a total of 395 audiobooks for our selection list! After hours and hours of listening, we had to whittle down a list of no more than 30 selections that were the year’s best. If you have not yet had a chance to checkout our list you can see it here. It was released last week, after the Midwinter Conference.
We also had the even more difficult task of selecting our Top Ten Audiobooks of the year. Below are our Top Ten titles for 2015, along with a suggested listen-a-like, in case you are ahead of the game and have already listened to these Top Ten selections.
2015 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Top Ten
ACID by Emma Pass, read by Fiona Hardingham with Nicholas Guy Smith and Suzan Crowley. Listening Library, 2014. 10 hours, 48 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-8041-6832-8.
The brutal police state ACID rules all, so when Jenna is broken out of prison by a rebel group she has to fight to survive as ACID’s most-wanted fugitive. Unique ACID reports and recordings read by Smith and Hardingham’s excellent pace combine with her authentic teen voice to highlight this exciting story.
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2013. 9 hours, 30 minutes, 8 discs, ISBN: 978-1-4789-2648-1.
In the second installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her classmates use their training to search for a dangerous device that may have fallen into the wrong hands. Quick’s lively narration highlights the wit and humor in Carriger’s story.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison: The Finishing School series, narrated by Quirk, is filled with sly humor but also packs a punch with Sophronia’s adventures. Likewise, The Screaming Staircase is not only is an action-packed steampunk mystery, but Raison brings variety to her narration by highlighting the nuances of the quirky cast of characters characters, including the darkly comedic Anthony Lockwood. (Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014)
The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list where members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries across the country nominate and choose their favorite books of the year. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.
The votes are in and the 2014 winners have been announced — and we’re featuring them here on The Hub. Today we bring you an interview with Janet Edwards, who is on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list for Earth Girl (the first book in the Earth Girl Trilogy).
Do you have a special ritual or tradition to celebrate whenever a new book of yours is released?
The release of a new book is a time of high emotion for me, a mixture of celebration at the achievement and nervous tension as I wait to see what readers think of the book. I expected it to be less emotional with my second book, but it wasn’t. My special tradition is to treat myself to a small piece of jewelry. Later on, when the nervous tension stage is over, I can look at that and re-experience the feeling of celebration.
What do you like most about writing for young adults?
There are two things really. One is that the books that made the deepest impression on me, the ones I still think about many years later, were ones I read as a teenager. That makes it especially rewarding when I get a message from a teenager saying how much they loved reading Earth Girl. Some of those readers may remember Earth Girl the way I remember the books I loved as a teenager.
The second thing is that your readership isn’t limited to teenagers. Young adult books are coming of age tales, a type of story which has always had universal appeal. I’m delighted by the incredible range of people of all backgrounds and ages who have contacted me after reading my books. Continue reading 2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Janet Edwards
Post-apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction. For a novel to be post-apocalyptic, the setting must be one where the end of the world has already taken place and characters are trying to survive and start anew. The end of the world event that occurred can be anything from war, to plague, to natural or man made disasters. Post-apocalyptic fiction differs from apocalyptic fiction, where the end of the world is currently taking place and the characters and fighting to survive it.
Post-apocalyptic fiction can be set in the current day or the far off future. Additionally, the story can take place right after the cataclysmic event or years after the event. In post-apocalyptic novels, technology can be that which we have never seen before, or there can be no technology at all. Also, characters can remember what the world was like, or they can’t remember at all what the world was like and will fantasize about the way it used to be or even go so far as to create myths about the world before the destruction (often our current day).
The stories of post-apocalyptic novels are often action and adventure, survival stories. When post-apocalyptic fiction is written for teens, the protagonist or protagonists are surviving on their own or in packs, and oftentimes the “hero” of the story has outstanding survival skills and can figure out how to survive in this new world. As with most novels written for teens, adults can be absent in post-apocalyptic novels. However, it is not uncommon to have an adult in a post-apocalyptic novel positioned as an evil figurehead, or the one person our hero or heroes are trying to find or keep safe. Post-apocalyptic novels can have elements of other genres in their story. The most common is to have dystopian governments in place. Continue reading Genre Guide: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction for Teens
This summer, The Hub did a round up of Speculative LGBTQ fiction and highlighted other notable LGBTQ young adult novels. If you’ve worked your way through those lists and are looking for more LGBTQ fiction, you’re in luck! This post is highlighting teen fiction that features lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise non-heterosexual identifying characters and themes that are coming out in Fall 2014 and Winter 2015.
In some of these novels, the sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to the plot, and in others, it’s just another characteristic of the protagonist. There’s a great mix of genres and styles so that any reader can find a book they’ll enjoy. With titles from debut authors as well as those firmly established in the YA world, it’s great to see such an eclectic assortment of titles.
YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.
The original request
I have a patron here looking for some good teen science fiction that is NOT set on a future dystopian Earth. She wants space travel and adventure, exploring new planets, aliens, etc. I’ve pulled a few but my current science fiction list seems to be pretty heavily slanted towards the dystopian stuff that came out after [The] Hunger Games. Does anyone have any good suggestions for her?
My science fiction knowledge extends to Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the new Star Trek movies. That’s about it– so I was excited to attend the session at ALA Annual that was all about science fiction for people like me: who know very little about the genre.
The program was presented by Dr. Karin Perry, Assistant Professor of Library Science at Sam Houston State University in Texas. She expertly went through a variety of books (some I had actually read!) and broke them down in the subcategories: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocolypic, Steampunk/Biopunk/Cyberpunk, Robots/Androids/Cyborgs/Artificial Intelligence, Space/Aliens/Extra-Terrestrials, Time Travel/Parallel Universe, and Virtual Reality/Gaming.
She covered so many books that it would be impossible to list here, but Karin put her slideshow online which I know I will be referring to for reader’s advisory.
Be sure to check it out if you struggle with science fiction like I do!
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.
Science fiction doesn’t normally conjure images of passionate embraces or longing looks. It’s more often associated with deep space adventures or hypothetical quandaries. Of course, there’s the famous sci-fi couples of TV and moviedom–Han Solo and Leia, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, Adama and Roslin, Captain Kirk and half the universe–but epic love stories in sci-fi novels are fewer and farther between. Perhaps this is because we can project how societies, relationships, families, and sexuality might evolve, but it’s hard to imagine a different way to love. As a hardcore sci-fi nerd with a secret penchant for rom-coms, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the best and most recent sci-fi books that explore the enduring power of love. More specifically, books where romance is at the beating heart of the story and not a sidelined note on the periphery.
I’ll start with one of my personal favorites from last year, Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty (RUSA’s Best Science Fiction Pick of 2013). Set in the 22nd century, the book explores in vivid and believable detail, the vagaries of fate, the long dark days of heartbreak, and the compromises and conditions of love. Love Minus Eighty follows multiple relationships but the heart of the novel is the improbable yet utterly delightful love affair between an impoverished musician, Rob, and the woman he accidentally killed. Her death is not final as she’s placed into a cryogenic dating facility and becomes a â€œbridesicleâ€ waiting for a wealthy man to rescue her. Rob’s decision to stop at nothing to be with her provides not only a multitude of entertaining plot twists but also a passionate love affair to rival any romance book. Continue reading Where is the Love?: A Sci-Fi Valentine’s Day Special
It’s National Science Fiction Day! A day to pause and give thanks for the genre that offers us an infinity of futures to inhabit, if only for the space of a novel. It’s also the time of year when I like to ponder why I find science fiction so captivating. Like many fans, it’s partly because I love immersing myself in a sense of possibility: these are civilizations that could happen, interstellar events that may well unfold, alien life yet to be encountered, worlds upon worlds waiting to be discovered (or explored or exploited or misunderstood). However, I think my great love for this genre largely lies in its ability to reframe how I perceive the world. Reading the great sci-fi classics in high school introduced me to an astonishing array of philosophical concepts and conundrums that shook up my belief systems. Modern sci-fi continues to do the same for me some twenty years later. So, in honor of National Science Fiction Day, here are five titles that will change the way you see the world.
Let me begin with Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation Trilogy, a particularly apt pick given that National Science Fiction Day falls on his chosen birthday. The series won the Hugo Award for best all-time series (deservedly so) and is inspired by Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. What sets the trilogy apart from so many other series is the scope of its ambition. Asimov writes of the decline of the Galactic Empire and the forces at play to preserve its knowledge and help bring about the rise of another empire. Sound dry? It’s not! You’ll be swept up by the fascinating ebb and flow of power and politics and by the series end, be asking yourself profound questions about history, the human condition, and the cyclical nature of civilizations.
Whenever I read about cloning I think about my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, the one about the Duplicator.
For those of you not familiar, Calvin–a bit of a stinker even on his best behavior–decides to create a cloning machine so that his clone can do all the work Calvin doesn’t want to do. Things backfire a bit and Calvin ends up with multiple clones just as naughty as him.
The story of Calvin’s duplicator machine simplifies ethical and logistical questions of human cloning such as: What purpose does cloning serve and who or what entity gets to control it? Where does the clone end and the human begin? Is a clone the “same” as the original?
Here are some YA books about cloning and genetic engineering to help you ponder:
Replica by Jenna Black (#1 in the Replica Trilogy)
This one is for you sci-fi/dystopian/murder mystery fans. Nadia and Nathaniel have it all figured out: he’s the heir to the only human cloning corporation in the Corporate States, very rich, and a bit of a spoiled brat; Nadia is Nate’s best friend and also his betrothed, and happy to sacrifice any romantic notions of love to satisfy her family’s financial and social needs. But their perfect world is shattered when Nate is murdered and replaced by his cloned replica, and Nadia and the new Nate are determined to discover the mystery behind Nate’s murder. Lots of plot twists, folks.