The Fault in Our Novels

teen_blogging_contest_winner

October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Alyssa Finfer from New Jersey.

 

Let’s play a game. I’ll list some books, and you tell me which one doesn’t belong.Alyssa Graphic

  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Jane Eyre
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Hunger Games

I bet most of you picked the last one. Why? These books are all well written and powerful, and I bet many of you have read most or all of them, some even multiple times (I admit I have). Because of their popularity, Hollywood has made movie versions of all of them, though some are admittedly better than others. Despite this, people traditionally study the first four in English class at some point in high school or college, but rarely the last one. Also, even though all these books fit the definition of young adult literature, “literature for and about the young adult,”[1] you won’t find the first four in the YA section in Barnes and Noble. What’s up with that? Continue reading The Fault in Our Novels

No Tense Like the Present

I don’t know if it’s my penchant for once-upon-a-time fairy tale retellings, but when I pick up a book, I expect it to be narrated in past tense. Recently, though, it seems like more and more YA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbooks are being told in present tense. I’m not quite sure why this is a trend, but I find the more frequent use of present tense interesting and occasionally annoying (I write this completely aware of the irony that I am writing this post in the present tense).

I remember clearly the first time I noticed a story was being narrated in present tense–I honestly don’t remember the book or even quite when in my life this was, but I found the narration clunky and distracting, and I put the book down after a chapter or less. Looking back, I’m not sure if the writing was bad or clunky at all, or if I was just completely put off by the present tense. Now that I have encountered many more books that use present tense, I usually find it easier to ignore the tense and fall into the story, but not always. After all, past tense is something of a common language in English narrative writing, and it’s not like an author can’t convey that something is happening now even while using past tense. september_girlsFor example, Sam in Bennett Madison’s September Girls (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) describes his current whereabouts using past tense: “I had decided to take a walk, and now I was alone at the edge of the water as it came and went” (p. 22).

When I thought about writing a Hub post on this topic, I decided to speculate about reasons why an author might choose to use the present tense instead of the past. This seemed like a good way to try to appreciate this writing technique better. Here are some possibilities I’ve come up with: Continue reading No Tense Like the Present

Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

by flickr user o5com
by flickr user o5com

Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days.  So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.

The Book Series Made into a Show

You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone.   When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show.  Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)

walking dead
walking dead
  • Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more!  You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.

2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises.  You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!

  • Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises.  Yes, this is both a pro and a con.  These changes may call into question your precognitive skills.  For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.

  • Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:

Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die?  Then they look your way: do you know?  Oh, yeah.  Continue reading Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

Books for Boys that Aren’t “Books for Boys”

Recently I was sitting in my library’s teen space with a few teens (three guys; two girls) chatting about movies, books, friends, and the Spongebob Squarepants version of the Game of Life when I had a bit of a revelation. This wasn’t really a new revelation but rather a confirmation of what seems like such an obvious fact: there are no such things as “books for boys.”

See!? Sometimes guys read Danielle Steele! (Photo by Flickr user Wei Tchou)
See!? Sometimes guys read Danielle Steele! (Photo by Flickr user Wei Tchou)

During this hanging out time, some boys insisting on showing me multiple trailers for YA movie adaptations: first, Divergent; then The Maze Runner; and finally, The Fault in Our Stars. They talked about how excited they were for these movies and how they couldn’t wait to see how the movies were different from the books. One of the boys said he watched the TFiOS trailer five (!) times in a row after it was released recently. This got me to thinking about the books and media these boys were interested in. They featured both guy and girl protagonists, they were cross a couple of different genres, and were written by both male and female authors.

I realized it doesn’t matter if a book is “for” a guy or a girl; the gender of the intended audience tends to get all mixed up when you factor in the power of a good story. Boys like stories; girls like stories. Readers in general like stories. We need to forget what we think about boys and reading and find them the stories they want. Continue reading Books for Boys that Aren’t “Books for Boys”

The Hub Celebrates Thesaurus Day

Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew
Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew

Happy Thesaurus Day!

While not necessarily a well-known holiday, Thesaurus Day is celebrated on January 18, the birthday of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus.

The original version of Roget’s thesaurus, created in 1805 and released in 1852, contained 15,000 words. Over the years, the thesaurus has grown, adding thousands of additional words and synonyms. These days, in addition to print versions of the thesaurus, wordsmiths are able to access the Roget’s thesaurus online through Thesaurus.com. If you are interested in a historical perspective, a 1911 version has been cataloged as part of the ARTFL Project through the University of Chicago.

We’re celebrating a day early here on The Hub by using the thesaurus to swap words in some popular YA titles. See if you can figure out the original titles and then scroll down to check!

  1. The Tome Bandit
  2. The Bonus of Being a Loner
  3. Papyrus Municipalities
  4. An Excellent and Dreadful Virtue
  5. The Insanity Below
  6. Swivel Spot
  7. The Examining
  8. Faithful
  9. Break Me
  10. The Choice
  11. Vocalize
  12. A Chain of Ill-fated Happenings.
  13. Gorgeous Critters
  14. Audrey, Halt!
  15. The Commander of the Loops
  16. Thirteen Rationales of Cause
  17. The Categorically Bona Fide Journal of a Part-Time Native American
  18. The Sorority of the Roving Trousers
  19. Always…
  20. 13 Slight Azure Pockets
  21. The Starvation Sports
  22. The Accuracy Referring to Always
  23. The Labyrinth Sprinter
  24. Granted That I Stick Around
  25. Paired

Continue reading The Hub Celebrates Thesaurus Day