Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Beware the Return of Point Horror

Scholastic has heard your pleas for more horror and is in the midst of releasing some cool, easy and very accessible horror with the Point Horror line. This relaunched line combines technology with horror to create some fun, fast reads. I was able to read these titles quickly and, being a horror fan, I found them entertaining. So if you are looking for some fun horror titles to catch even your reluctant readers, give these a try (each title clocks out around 250 pages). It definitely reminds me of the golden age not long ago when R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike lined the shelves and readers couldn’t get enough of those scary reads.

Don’t open the door. Don’t answer your phone. And whatever you do, DON’T turn on your computer. . . .

Followers by Anna Davies

To tweet or not to tweet . . . what a deadly question.

When Briana loses out on a starring role in the school’s production of Hamlet, she reluctantly agrees to be the drama department’s “social media director” and starts tweeting half-hearted updates. She barely has any followers, so when someone hacks her twitter account, Briana can’t muster the energy to stop it. After all, tweets like “Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark . . . and a body’s rotting in the theater” are obviously a joke.

But then a body IS discovered in the theater: Briana’s rival. Suddenly, what seemed like a prank turns deadly serious. To everyone’s horror, the grisly tweets continue . . . and the body count starts to rise.

There’s no other explanation; someone is live-tweeting murders on campus.

With the school in chaos and the police unable to find the culprit, it’s up to Briana to unmask the psycho-tweeter before the carnage reaches Shakespearian proportions . . . or she becomes the next victim.

Identity Theft by Anna Davies

Hayley is going to have the best year ever. After years of careful planning, she’s ready to serve as student council president AND editor-in-chief of the newspaper. Ivy League, here she comes!

However, just before student council elections, someone creates a fake facebook profile for Hayley and starts posting inappropriate photos and incriminating updates. It must be the work of a highly skilled Photoshopper, but the attention to detail is scary. The embarrassing photos of “Hayley” in her bathing suit reveal a birthmark on her back–a birth mark Hayley has never shown in public. . . .

The situation escalates until Hayley’s mother reveals some shocking information. Hayley isn’t an only child: She has a twin sister who was adopted by a different family. And that’s not all. Soon, Hayley discovers that her long-lost sister isn’t just playing a prank–she’s plotting to take over Hayley’s life . . . by any means necessary.

Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten

Edit at your own risk.

Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole’s girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.

It’s all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident . . . just as Cole and Greg predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways . . . and those entries start to come true as well.

To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who’s behind the murders, or else he’s set to meet a pretty grisly end.

All book descriptions are the back cover copy. These are great reads for R. L. Stine and mild horror fans.

New Adult: A Broken Promise, Now a Rose by Any Other Name (by Chrisite G)

I have been following with waxing and waning interest for the last few months the chatter about the “New Adult” trend that publishers have been introducing.  You can trace it back to St. Martin Press back in 2009, when they wanted to market books as coming-of-age stories with characters in their twenties.  You can actually trace it further back to an online contest, sponsored by #YALitChat, and they had a really decent turnout for it.  The winners got the first 50 pages of their manuscripts looked over by St. Martin, and a lot of them were really idealistic.  Blogger and author Kristan Hoffman, who won the contest, stated that she felt that New Adult could really take off, Especially since New Adult could offer a variety of “flavors.” Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, historical, thriller, literary … Just like the Young Adult umbrella, New Adult can (and probably will) cover all these genres and more.”

In spite of this early optimism, even the reps for St. Martin admitted back then what I keep thinking now:  that New Adult isn’t needed, and that it’s just a marketing ploy. It was a way for ADULT FICTION to expand out of its box.  Which is good- we all like things expanding outside of their boxes, and it’s nice that publishers want to reach out to a section of readers that they think need special marketing.  I think it would have been wonderful if it had taken off that way.  Books like the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty  or Prep often live in the Young Adult section but need to find an older audience, as they might need a college aged crowd who won’t go back to a teen section once they graduate.  (Note to readers- mine continue to haunt the teen area even after they’ve graduated high school, are constantly asking me for more teen and adult books, and are actually laughing at the thought of me calling them “new adults”)

New Adult is not coming out of its box, though. Instead, publishing is wrapping things up in bright, shiny pink polka dot paper with froufrous and lace, and that’s not acceptable. If anything, it’s basically the new shiny name for chick lit and backhanded acceptance that it’s OK for a FEMALE to read.  And that makes me incensed.

If you look at some of the definitions, now New Adult is considered anything coming of age for readers 14-35.  That’s a bit of a gap developmentally- what’s appropriate for a freshman in high school is not going to be appropriate for a freshman in college or a graduate student, and a far cry from the original intent of 18-26 year olds. How, realistically, am I as librarian supposed to put together a New Adult collection with a straight face?  “Oh, here, teenager, read the bodice ripper your MOM likes.  Oh, here, adult patron, please don’t mind that we have the scantily clad covers right next to the rapidly diminishing young adult section, because it’s the NEW ADULT area.”  If you search Goodreads for New Adult titles, you get at least 300 titles:  everything from Julie Cross’ Tempest (rated YA- 14 to 18 yrs by the publisher on BN.com)  to 50 Shades of Grey.  We’ve gone far afield from college experiences, moving out, and finding our way in the real world. 

Five young adult titles that are being called New Adult on Goodreads- where would you put them?

And take a CLOSE look at titles that are being considered new adult.  Notice a pattern?  How about the fact that the vast majority of them are romantic intrigue?  So, who exactly is the New Adult category for?  Random House just announced this morning a new digital imprint for their New Adult titles- called FLIRT.  Sci-fi is called Hydra while Mysteries is called Alibi.  So, if New Adult were actually FOR people 18-26 or 18-36, why would you call it something that is going to appeal primarily to young women while alienating the vast majority of readers?  Unless you WANT it to be aimed for that segment?

Shiny imprint of New Adult called Flirt.  Plus vast majority of books being published and categorical under New Adult are romantic intrigue genre.  Therefore, New Adult = romantic intrigue books that have younger protagonists for women ages 18-26.  What happened to the coming-of-age topics?  What happened to the other flavors, the sci-fi, fantasy, historical, thriller, literary?  Between the imprint name and the marketing, what are publishers demonstrating about their opinion of the target audience?  Do they not trust young women to seek out and read quality literature?  Instead of simply encouraging them to read the good books that they want to, why do the publishers think the books have to be decked out in such a way for the target audience to choose to read them?  Why is there a stigma of guilt associated with either the content or the act of reading, such that publishers think it has to be disguised as something with stylish appearance?  

Why do we have to turn something that could have been good into basically permission-giving for people to read one particular sub-genre without guilt?

Of course, there are other arguments, both for and against New Adult.  For more on the discussion, check out:
http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/if-you-like-new-adult-books/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/10/new-adult-fiction
http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/09/new-adult-genre-is-misreading-its-audience.html
http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/11/some-thoughts-on-new-adult-and-also.html
http://naalley.blogspot.com/p/about.html
http://cleareyesfullshelves.com/blog/the-new-adult-category-thoughts-questions.html
http://trishdoller.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-new-adult-isand-isnta-thing.html

Karen’s 2 Cents: How in the world could something categorized as ages 14 -17 be considered NEW ADULT? 14 year olds are not adults.

What do I call that? Genre 101 with Georgia McBride

I love speculative fiction so much that when I started Month9Books, I added the commonly misunderstood term to our tagline: “speculative fiction for teens and tweens where nothing is as it seems.” Those of you who are genre fiction fans, and in particular speculative fiction fans, may already know what it means. But for those of you who hear only the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher when I use it, this one’s for you.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term used to encompass a variety of genres and sub-genres. The easiest way to understand what it means is to break down the word speculative. It has “speculate” in it. According to Barron’s Reference Guides Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus, to speculate means to “form an opinion without any definite evidence.” As a transitive verb, Merriam Webster says in essence, to speculate is to theorize or wonder. As in, I wonder what would happen if, or I think if  X happened, we would all do Y.

I like to say that speculative fiction encompasses all of the “what if” genres. Like, what if your boyfriend were a vampire? Or, what if you had to fight to the death on national TV so that your family and everyone in your district would survive? What if you found out you were a wizard endowed with the power to defeat the greatest evil ever known? The previous “what if” scenarios are taken from Twilight, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, classified as paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, and fantasy respectively, and all under the speculative fiction umbrella. See how easy that was?

Also included under the speculative fiction umbrella are science fiction, horror, high fantasy, urban fantasy, utopian/totalitarian, steampunk, and supernatural. I may be missing a few sub-genres here, but these are the most commonly referenced ones.

 The boundaries between these genres aren’t entirely set in stone, and many novels can be fairly classified under two or more of them. That said, below are my personal definitions for various genres of speculative fiction, as well as some examples of recent books, TV shows or films that fall into them.

Science Fiction: One of my favorite genres has been making a comeback in young adult literature. Though we tend to enjoy watching our science fiction (SciFi), including shows and films like Star Wars, Star Trek, A.I., War of the Worlds, and even Transformers,  those of us in children’s book publishing have also enjoyed titles like Across the Universe, Mila 2.0, Beta, Ender’s Game, and classics like Fahrenheit 451. Fans of science fiction might also like films like Minority Report; I, Robot; 12 Monkeys; Terminator; etc.

Star Wars helped make science fiction popular. But today purists may ask whether certain works are really science fiction or are something else. The answer, IMHO, lies within the name of the genre itself. I like to say that science fiction is a story that presents circumstances and outcomes that would not be possible outside of the realms of science and/or technology, and often a science or technology not yet created. In other words, a world where robots replace service personnel, or a where inter-galaxy travel is possible, or where clones are standard fare, would not be possible were it not for imagined future advancements in science and technology.
 
 
Fantasy: Another favorite of mine, this genre includes stories that are made up of fantastical occurrences (superhuman powers, magical creatures, etc.), and characters, beings, and settings that seem to come from the imagination and folklore, rather than from scientific fact or speculation. Generally, comic books fit into this category. Fantasy normally unfolds due to magic or some other supernatural force, and may be set in either the real world or in an imagined one. Most fantasy involves a quest or adventure. Some of my favorites include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Emissary, which releases in December, 2013. On TV, look for shows like Once Upon a Time, and check out films like Snow White and the Huntsman, Avatar, and The Avengers.
 
 

Paranormal: This includes stories where supernatural or otherworldly elements influence the outcomes and occurrences in a story, whether those elements be a force, a being (person), or an idea. The genre is often associated with otherworldly beings, such as vampires, angels, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, etc. Some of my favorites include Shiver, Anna Dressed in Blood, Rot and Ruin, and A Shimmer of Angels, which releases January 29, 2013. On TV, look for The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, Arrow, 666 Park Avenue, and Grimm, Heroes (no longer on the air). Check out films like Underworld, Wrath of the Titans, Hellboy, and The Mummy.

 
 
Dystopian: Some of you were first introduced to this type of book via The Hunger Games. These stories show the evolution of characters as they navigate a society in which conditions are less than ideal, or even the complete opposite of a utopian (or ideal) world. Other examples include Breathe, Divergent, and one of my favorites: Lord of the Flies. On TV, shows like The Walking Dead, Revolution and Falling Skies represent the dystopian genre.
 
 
High Fantasy: This genre, like other fantasy, usually includes magical or imaginary events and ideas, but it is also normally set in a fantastical or alternate world other than what we understand to be the “real” world, whose existence may or may not be acknowledged. Some of my faves are The Girls of Fire and Thorns and Graceling. In both book and film formats, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are also standouts.

Steampunk movies like the (IMHO) ill-conceived Wild, Wild West (starring Will Smith), or one of my favorites, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, have never really caught on. I fear the same is true for books set in a time when steam powered the world, although titles such as Leviathan, Boneshaker, and Clockwork Angel lead the pack in young adult and are wonderful examples of how to use steampunk elements to drive a story.

Next time we will devote an entire post to one of my favorite genres, horror!

Georgia McBride
Georgia loves a good story. Whether it’s writing her own, or publishing someone else’s, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of YALITCHAT.ORG and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not reading submissions for Month9Books or Swoon Romance.
With a particular interest in and passion for genre fiction, Georgia seeks to fill the gap left by major publishers who may have had their fill of paranormal, horror, and fantasy novels. And it’s a good thing, because Georgia has never met a vampire, angel, or werewolf she didn’t like.
In Month9Books, Georgia seeks to create a niche imprint that publishes deeply emotive works for teens and tweens set in worlds not too unlike our own.
Georgia is seeking middle grade stories with heart and engaging characters who experience life a bit differently. She especially enjoys mysteries, fantasy, and superhero and antihero stories. For young adult, Georgia seeks works that make readers think, and aren’t afraid to be smart, different, or off the beaten path. She is especially interested in genre mash-ups, and welcomes character-driven, coming of age stories with a romantic element. Fangs and zombies welcome.
 

Thursday Throw Down: Teen Read Week Genres

So, this week on TLT we’re talking about Teen Read Week and different genres…  and we want to know WHICH genre is your favorite and why?

Is it….

PARANORMAL ROMANCE that gets your heart aflutter?

OR

VAMPIRES that you can sink your teeth into?

OR

ALIENS that send you into orbit?

OR

BIOENGINEERING that tweaks your genes?

Share your favorite genre (and if you want your favorite title) in the comments below!