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Take 5: YA Horror 2014

It’s October, which means everything is pumpkin flavored or scented and you can’t change the channel without running across a horror movie. While I’m not big on horror movies – I haven’t been able to watch them ever since I saw The Ring because if the scary isn’t going to stay inside the TV box then what is going to keep you safe? – but I still like to read it.

Last night’s #YALove conversation was all about horror (you can find a recap here). Naomi Bates asked what everyone read as a teen for horror and my go to authors were Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul. While I still read King and Koontz, it has been a while since I read some John Saul. Last year we shared a collection of Haunted Readings, all our best October ready booklists for you in one place. There are a few new titles for 2014 I want to make sure you all have seen.

Amity by Micol Ostow

Amity is a twisted look at an already twisted story: The Amityville Horror Story. In this version, two separate teens move into the Amity house ten years apart and the haunted happenings bring them together in really disturbing ways. Blood drips, the house seems to stare, and everyone who enters seems to change – and not in good ways at all. Don’t read it alone in the dark.

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

True fact: My favorite short story writer is Edgar Allan Poe and I desperately wanted to name either one of my girls Annabel Lee, but The Mr. was not sold on naming our daughter after a dead girl in a poem. When Annabel Lee’s mother dies, she ends up living with her father, whose experiments have always troubled her. In this new home she meets his young assistant, Edgar Allan Poe.  As a series of murders begin to plague the town, it is up to Annabel Lee to figure out what is happening and who might be involved. Check here for more Poe inspired YA lit. Pair this with The Madman’s Daughter or The Monstrumologist.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

If The Ring taught us anything, it’s that we should never trust a girl from a well. This dead girl from the well roams the streets hunting murderers. A strange boy with even stranger tattoos finds himself drawn to this spirit and soon the two of them are fighting creepy evil – their are dolls involved, it turns out dolls can be incredibly creepy (I’m looking at you Doll Bones by Holly Black). The Girl from the Well takes you from the American suburbs to Japan and keeps you on the edge of your seat while doing it.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

This may seem like a strange book to put on this list, but I think it’s a fitting choice. Afterworlds is two books in one. In the real world, Darcy Patel moves to New York to write her debut YA novel. And the debut YA novel, well that is a haunting read. In the novel Darcy is writing, Lizzie has just survived a massive terrorist attack at the airport and finds that she can now step into the Afterworld, a place between life and death where a madman is hunting her because he wants her power.

Sanctum (Asylum #2) by Madeleine Roux

Dan, Abby and Jordan barely survived their summer at a school set in an asylum, but now they are receiving disturbing pictures of an old time carnival. The three return to Brookline in an attempt to discover what it all can mean when they find themselves once again sucked into a tale of terror. Definitely put this in the hands of American Horror Story fans.

And if you are a horror movie fan, be sure to follow Daniel Kraus (who writes most excellent YA horror) on Twitter for the #31HorrorFilms31Days discussion. He’s sharing his favorite horror films, which you don’t want to miss.

Now it’s your turn: What new YA horror titles are you reading this month? What are some of your favorites, new or old? Tell us in the comments.

Book Review: Amity by Micol Ostow

At my previous library, we had a patron who would check out the Amityville Horror book over and over again. I am sure this book was written for him, and for all horror fans.

Publisher’s Book Description:

Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor’s nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren’t there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again.

Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.

Karen’s Thoughts:


Amity begins with a letter. In this letter, a young man, Connor is writing about a new family that has just moved in and quickly moved out of Amity. 

We then begin our story. It is told in alternating chapters from then, which is 10 years ago, and now. In between there are a few other interjections, such as reports from counselors.

Each timeline focuses on the inhabitants of Amity, a house that seems to be alive and have a will of its own. This has house windows that look like eyes. It doesn’t seem to want to be altered in any way so the walls are impenetrable, you can’t even push a nail into them to hang up a picture. And it seems to want to claim its residents as its own. In fact, both MCs notice how once they arrive, they almost never seem to leave, not even to go into town and look around. Of course, when they do, they get the side eye from town residents because they know the story of Amity.

“She was shot in the head!”

Like any good haunted house story, Amity begins slowly with those subtle hints that something might be wrong. Those glimpses outside a window where you think you see something. A faucet that drips blood. An infestation of bees.

Then the momentum builds. Desperation creeps up. And then all hell breaks loose.

At the end of the day what readers want to know is simple: Is it scary? And the answer is yes. It kept me on the edge of my seat as the tension built and I read impatiently to read what would happen next. It took me a few minutes to get used to the alternating rhythm of the story and figure out who was who, but as it built momentum and you fall into its groove it delivers.

Amidst all of the scary house happenings, this is also the story of two different families facing very real problems. Connor’s family in particular is very interesting. It is clear very early on that the father is abusive, which we begin to realize as the family tries to navigate through this ordeal while also navigating this father prone to violence. In many ways, this horror rivaled that of the house. The inhabitants of the house, and the complex family relationships that they try to navigate, are almost as horrific as the house itself. And in each story, there is a strong brother/sister relationship that is then put to the test as the house draws them in and tempts them to the dark side. It is what happens in these relationships that haunts more than the house itself because the strong siblings are forced to realize truths about who they are and watch as their families begin to change and then the thin string that holds them together is unwound. And as a reader you are left with this haunting truth: things change, families fall apart, and we are not always what we seem.

The house is not the only thing hiding scary truths.

Recommended. Amity releases in August from EgmontUSA. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3.

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.

Haunted Readings: All Our Scary, Spooky and Otherwise Halloween Ready Book Lists in One Place

Whether you are looking for twisted fairy tales, ghosts or more, we’ve got some great reads for you!  
Read if you dare.


Alice in Wonderland retellings

Aliens: They’re Here: Science Fiction with actual aliens

Apocalypse Survival Tips from YA Lit

Assasins: Teenage Assassins in YA Lit

Beyond the Grave: dead narrators 

Bioengineering (Frankenstein 2012: YA lit with bioengineering)

Death and Dying: Sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to truly live 

Dragons

Dystopias

Egypt: Read About Your “Mummy” (and Egypt)

Epidemics list 1 and list 2 

Environment: Earth Day Dystopias

Fairy Tales (twisted, of course) and Cinderella Retellings

Graveyards: Someone Just Walked Over My Grave: YA lit with graveyards

Haunted Tales

Horror: The Stories that Haunt our Childhood: Local legends and superstitions in YA lit, Horrifying Reads for October (recommended by teens)

Poe, inspired by

Myths and Mythology 

Reapers (and Necromancers) in YA Lit

Serial Killers: I Eat Cereal, but I am NOT a Serial Killer – serial killers in YA lit

Supernatural and Psychological Creepers
 
Under the Sea: Mermaids

Vampires  and Non-emo Vampires

Witches

Zombies

Book Review: The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray

Publisher Annotation: When the world is breaking all someone wants is safety. A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when eighteen-year-old Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields-a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus-she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.

At first, Elysian Fields-with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns-is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne’s heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world. The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now ‘Persephone,’ and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along. If they play it right, then they’ll be safe. But if they play it wrong, they’ll die.

The Dollhouse Asylum is many things, but at the end of the day it is a tale of obsessive love gone wrong.  It is, in fact, a twisted episode of Criminal Minds with some dystopian undertones. 

The idea that someone would take others captive and make them play this twisted game, take on specific personas, was fascinating (in disturbing ways obviously).  The teens, now in these personas, are forced to play a variety of “games”, hold parties, and more.  Breaking character is deadly.

Gray does a good job of slowly peeling away the layers of the menacing Teo.  In order for Cheyenne to be taken in, he must at first have the pretense that he is a safe, attractive guy.  But as things play out in Elysian Fields, Cheyenne slowly begins to realize the truth of who he is.  It is interesting to note that even after events unravel, Teo still has planted enough psychological seeds in Cheyenne’s mind that she still feels that she is partly to blame for the various events that unfold in Teo’s macabre world.  As a portrait of psychological and emotional abuse, Gray really captures the essence of what it is to be a victim and not fully comprehend the extent of your victimhood (which is possibly not a real world).  So when we read stories of people in abusive situations and ask, “why don’t they just leave?”, Gray helps to shed some light on that phenomenon.  It is, in some ways, an example of how Chris Brown can say he lost his virginity at the age of 8 and not realize that he was, in fact, raped at the age of 8.  At the end of the book I thought to myself, that girl is going to need some serious counseling.  Cheyenne is not always likable, she is definitely naive and needy, but I also think that Gray does a pretty decent job of showing how Teo used that, fed off of it, and twisted her in ways that it will be hard for her to break out of.  As far as villains go, Teo is up there with Warner from Shatter Me.

There are 7 couples in the story, and they are an interesting mix of characters.  I won’t reveal who they “play”, as that is part of the fun of the story.  There are a lot of twists and turns here, and this book is at times very disturbing.  Remember: a twisted version of Criminal Minds.  Think of some of the most disturbing episodes – like the one where the man takes homeless people prisoner in his “hospital”, that one – yeah, disturbing.  It’s not a perfect book, but fans of psychological thrillers and horror will not be disappointed.  3 out of 5 stars.

Horrifying Reads for October – recommended by teens! (Kearsten’s Booktalk This!)

This September marked my third year doing a themed book club for 7th & 8th graders at a local K-8.  We meet in their school library during their lunch period, and share the books we’ve read recently.  This year, as we only have about 25 minutes together, we’ve adjusted our sharing style to title, author and six words to describe the book (a suggestion taken from Scholastic’s Booktalk! program.) This month, we shared horror titles (of course!).  Here are some of the creepy books they read, as well as some of their descriptions!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  Ten people gather on a small island after receiving a mysterious invitation and are shocked when one of their number is murdered.  But then the others are picked off one by one, all the while knowing that one of themis the killer.  Several teens chimed in about this one, with some insisting that it was more of a mystery, others arguing that it *was* pretty creepy, while still others claimed it was too “predictable.”  Read it and decide for yourself which group was right!

“The Call of Cthulhu” (and other short stories) by H.P. Lovecraft.  Tatiana, an 8th grader, is a self-professed ‘fangirl’ of Lovecraft, a horror and science fiction writer who inspired many modern day horror writers, including Stephen King.  She calls “The Call of Cthulhu” (a story about a huge, evil, sea monster-ish deity) and his other tales “spooky, weird, and unsettling.”

Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney.  A teen, while researching smallpox for a school report, finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears he may have been infected …and that he may be the only person able to prevent a smallpox outbreak in New York City.  8th grader Heather called this one “intense, scary, and suspenseful.”

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. 17-year-old ghost hunter Cas is determined to save ghost Anna from misery and torture in Hell as payback for saving his life, and according to Gillian, this sequel to the awesomely creepy and gross Anna, Dressed in Blood, is equally awesome.  She very gleefully described it as “scary, bloody, and verygory.”

Outbreak: Plagues that Changed History by Bryn Barnard.  7th grader Annalise didn’t like the horror fiction options on her family’s bookcase, so she opted to read about the Black Death, the plague that in the 1300s killed millions — possibly a third of the European population.  The rest of us agreed that by all the accounts we’ve read, the Black Death was a pretty horrific disease!  Find out for yourself how it and other plagues, like yellow fever and cholera, altered history in Barnard’s Outbreak

What are some of your favorite October reads?  Discuss in the comment.

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana wakes in a bathtub after a night of partying only to realize that everyone else in the house has been slaughtered by vampires. Well, everyone except her former boyfriend, Aidan*, who has been bitten and saved for a snack.  In the process of saving him (oh, and the ancient vampire, Gavriel, chained up with him) Tana gets bitten. She decides to enter one of the ‘Coldtowns’ – a place where vampires roam free and humans live inside the walls with them. 

You see, in Tana’s reality, getting bitten doesn’t make you a vampire, it just makes you ‘go cold.’ You don’t become a vampire until you drink human blood. If you can survive the 88 day incubation period and deny yourself despite the overwhelming cravings, the virus will be out of your system. Tana is determined that she will live through going cold and come out on the other side. Once she gets to Coldtown, however, she gets drawn into the intrigue of centuries old vampires (thanks to Gavriel) and must learn how to survive.


I have to admit, I was a little wary of this book. While I LOVED (yes, all caps) Holly Black’s Curseworker series, I’ve never been able to get in to her Modern Tale of Faerie books. And then there is the horror aspect. Make no mistake, this is not a book that glosses over the horrific reality of living in a world with vampires. I’m good with suspense, but I have a strong tendency to shy away from horror and violence. Making the decision to read this book was a struggle for me, but OH, it was SO WORTH IT.

Holly Black has created one of the strongest, most realistic, heroines I’ve ever read. Despite her scars – physical, mental, and emotional – from her mother’s going cold and the aftermath, Tana is a survivor. Incredibly flawed, she is a character who draws you in and will not let go. All of the characters, however briefly present, are amazingly well drawn. The world the story is set in is completely realized. The story is highly engaging, with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes while maintaining a solidly realistic thread.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. It is certainly no surprise to me that it has already garnered multiple stars from reviewers. I will be very disappointed if it is not recognized by one of the awards committees.  Holly Black is a master of her craft. (All the stars – ALL OF THEM.)

*I couldn’t help but think while reading this, that it would make an excellent manual for teenage girls of what to avoid when choosing a boyfriend.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black will be available on September 3, 2013 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (ISBN 9780316213103.) This review was done from an electronic Advance Reader Copy provided by Edelweiss.

Book Review: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

“Please,” she said. “Just tell me what you know.”

“You can’t stop it, Athena,” Demeter said. “I see the feathers blooming under your skin. You’ll be weak. You’ll be too late.”
“But there is a way to stop it.”

“I don’t know. Not without great cost. There are tools that might help.”

“What kind of tools?” Hermes interjected, impatient as usual.

“Those that you have known before,” Demeter said. “Some of them walking are nearly as old as you are. They are threads that were cut, and then rewoven.”

Hermes turned to Athena. “What is she blathering on about?”

“Reincarnation,” Athena said thoughtfully.

“Oh,” Hermes snorted. “So we’re Buddhists now, are we?”

“What would they be good for?” Athena asked, ignoring him.

“What they were always good for,” Demeter answered. “They still are, fundamentally, what they were.”

Hermes stepped closer to the eye. He seemed to hesitate to speak to it, but in the absence of a mouth, there were few other options. “I still don’t understand,” he said awkwardly. “How will humans, even reincarnated ones, help us to stop … whatever this is?”

“You still don’t know what this is,” Demeter said.

“This is the Twilight of the gods.”

The skin shook as the goddess laughed. Pebbles bounced on her surface at the vibrations. Athena and Hermes shifted their weight uncomfortably. It was like standing on a drum.
“The Twilight of the gods,” Demeter said when the rumbling had stopped. “But not all of the gods. Some of us are the bitches of fate and will persevere.”




The gods and goddesses are reborn into our time, but are mere shadows of what they were. Athena, gone punk, is being killed by the feathers of owls, while Hermes is starving to death, Hera is turning to stone, and Aphrodite is going mad. Yet, there is hope for them all- in the form of Cassandra. Not aware of her past, only knowing that she can sometimes predict the future, Cassandra is unaware both of the forces coming towards her and her family and of the power that she wields. Once she discovers the truth, what side will she choose…or will it be chosen for her?

Antigoddess is the first in a new series by Kendare Blake, and picks up the horror and humor of her previous works in splendid detail. The gods and goddesses have fallen from their power, and need the once-shunned prophetess Cassandra in order to end the war between each other. Athena and Hermes are on one side, while Poseidon, Hera, and Aphrodite are on the other, and woe be to anyone in their way. In the search for the reborn Cassandra, readers learn how other beings from Greek mythology have survived in modern times (the descendants of Circe, for example, run an escort and psychic advisory service for the Fortune 100). Told in alternating point of views (Athena and Cassandra), readers get humor, snark, creepy, and spunk all in one. The personalities of the characters are complex and detailed, and if Blake stays true to form, will definitely expand as the series continues. The puzzles in the first book set up the rest of the series nicely, and the ending will set readers who love Antigoddess anxiously awaiting the next in the series. Creepy with some horrific battle scenes mixed in, do not give to readers who have issues with horror or gore, although absolutely satisfactory for a teen collection. Pair with Blake’s previous works for the horror aspect, or tie into CCSS when teaching high school mythology and the Trojan War. 4 out of 5 stars. 

Antigoddess will be released September 10, 2013. Win an advanced reader copy now!

Five Questions with ROTTERS and SCOWLER author Daniel Kraus

June is Audio Book Month – take a minute to enter our giveaway!

Listening Library is thrilled to talk horror, audio, and inspiration with Daniel Kraus, the author of two highly-acclaimed novels—both available on audio from Listening Library and recommended for YA listeners 14 and up. (As we like to say, “Listen with the Lights On!”) He is also an editor at the American Library Association and has a brand new YA Lit column called Booklandia, so be sure to check it out! Daniel’s audiobook ROTTERS, read by Kirby Heyborne, was the winner of the 2012 Odyssey Award, given by the American Library Association to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults in the United States. Lucky for listeners, and thanks to the SYNC program, ROTTERS is available for FREE download from June 27 – July 3.. And his latest audiobook, SCOWLER, also read by Kirby Heyborne, is available now at your local library or wherever books are sold. After Daniel’s Q&A, step into the recording studio with narrator Kirby in this great video.

Q: What is special or unique about the horror genre?  Why do you gravitate toward writing horror stories and what do you think this genre gives to teens?

A: With the possible exception or romance/erotica, it’s the one genre that tries to elicit a specific emotional, and even physical, response. I think the attraction for this kind of visceral thrill is strongest when you’re a teen. It’s the age when kids decide it’d be fun to drive too fast or jump off a cliff into a reservoir or experiment with drugs or whatever. It’s no wonder that teens want to experience some of these transformational thrills in their literature too.
Some of us get addicted to that thrill of pushing past safe boundaries and we never stop, and that’s how you end up with writers like me.
 

Q: In all of your books, you seem fascinated by small towns in the Midwest – and yet you live in a big city.  What draws you to this setting?

A: There is plenty to be scared of in the city. But for me, the endless stretches of nothing in the Midwest are what’s scariest. It’s almost like being in outer space. No one can hear you if you scream. No one can reach in time to save you. You could run, but the distances are great and you probably won’t make it. The isolation of the country can do strange things to people, but you’d never know it when you zoom by some farm house doing 80 on the interstate.


Q: Have you ever read your work aloud as part of your writing process? Have your audiobooks affected how you think about how writing sounds? (Or do you ever hear narrator Kirby Heyborne’s voice in your head?!)


A: In my case, I think it’s best that I *don’t* think about the audiobook process when I write. If I did, it might make me worry “How in the hell is Kirby going to do *this*?” Case in point is Scowler’s voice in SCOWLER, which basically looks like this on the page: “Tk-tk, hr’wo-gep-gep-gep.” Of course, to write dialogue like that you have to have some sense of what it sounds like, and I communicated that to Kirby once he was ready to record the audio, and I think it helped.


Q: We include your titles on our
Guys Listen website and we constantly hear from librarians and teachers that your books and audios have been perfect to place in the hands (or headphones!) of their male patrons and students, many of whom are considered reluctant readers. What do you think are the biggest challenges in helping guys discover stories that speak to them and encourage a love of reading? How does it make you feel to know you have the ability to reach this audience? 


A: It’s difficult to answer this based on my personal experience because I always loved to read. What fostered that love, however, availability. I never read the books that were put in front of me at school, which I think turned reading into an act that felt a little daring and subversive. I’d go wander the adult stacks looking for the most unsettling stuff, or pick something off my sister’s shelves that boys weren’t “supposed” to read, or snoop around in my parents’ room until I found something even more illicit. The hunt was almost as exciting as the reading. Once you frame it this way, the reluctance slips away. This isn’t unique to boys, but it’s certainly a way to present the idea of reading to them.

Q: We also include your titles on our Kids & Bullying: Audiobooks for Conversation website, as your books not only tell gripping and unique tales but they also confront important topics from bullying and abuse to poverty. Do you set out to tell a story that addresses specific issues that you feel are important and/or underrepresented in teen literature?

A: Never, never, never. Setting out to tackle a particular “issue” would be death to my writing. I’d feel like I was merely plugging a curricular hole. Tell a story, as deeply and richly and honestly as you can, and real issues will present themselves. Then you’ll fight through them. That’s what a writer does.

And don’t forget to enter our Audiobook Giveaway!

Take 5: Mystery and Horror Cross-Overs for YA’s Wanting More

Last time I wrote about teens who were searching beyond the teen area for science fiction and fantasy cross overs, and showcased 5 authors who’s series are real hits with my teens. This time I thought I’d talk about mysteries and horror books.  These are always a difficult one to pinpoint, because what we think of as a YA mystery ( Gallagher Girls or Heist Society, Code Name Verity or books by Lois Duncan) or horror (Anna Dressed in Blood) doesn’t translate all that well into the world of adults (with the exception of Daniel Kraus, Patrick Ness and Andrew Smith, who Karen thinks does horror well and it translates for adults). And depending on your system, your mysteries can also include bits of the paranormal (I’ve seen Darynda Jones’ Charlie Davidson series- where Charlie is a living Grim Reaper – in both fiction, mystery and science fiction), while horror may not be separated at all. So be prepared to look in various categories for these authors.




Janet Evanovich

In case you don’t know, Janet Evanovich has written the extremely popular Stephanie Plum series (One For the Money, Two for the Dough) that has some of my readers comparing the thinking and antics of Stephanie to Sookie from the Sookie Stackhouse series.  They really enjoy the writing as well as the situations that Stephanie gets herself in- which I think helps make her more human and believable to teens who are always finding themselves in trouble for something.

Kathy Reichs

 
Kathy Reichs has been growing in popularity with a small group of my teens; whether it’s the popularity of the TV show Bones (which is on regular TV as well as on syndication) or they’re really getting into the forensics of her writing, I can’t say.  I can say that those who have a strong interest in the science and police investigation behind crime really enjoy her books. Karen’s note: Reichs teen series, Virals, is actually very popular at my library.


Stephen King

My teens love the earlier books by Stephen King: Cujo, Carrie, Firestarter, It, and Mystery are ones that are continuously gaining legs and moving throughout my library, to be hidden in a variety of new and interesting places.  Interestingly enough, they don’t seem to like the newer books (the ones published since his car accident in 1999), but anything before then seem to be perfect.



Dean Koontz

My horror loving teens have just recently found Dean Koontz, and I can’t keep them in his books.  They’re currently going through his Frankenstein series (which seems to be a trend with science fiction fantasy in YA as well), and are just inhaling them.  He’s “creepy” and “keeps you guessing” says one teen, which is what you definitely need is your horror.


Robert Kirkman

Robert Kirkman is the writer/creator of The Walking Dead graphic novels and produced the TV pilot of The Walking Dead, which is responsible for sucking away many of Karen’s nights during it’s seasons. My teens keep an eye out for the boxes of new books, eagerly awaiting the day when we get a new bound edition of The Walking Dead, and there are fights over who gets to read it first. The comics are definitely very graphic and not intended for a teen audience (rated M for mature, and there are VERY graphic scenes in there), but those who are in desperate need of their zombie fix are definitely going to get it here- they are very well written  and the story lines are wonderful, as well as deviating somewhat from the TV show (from what I’ve been told by the teens- I haven’t seen the show) so that adds to the excitement.