Monday, June 28, 2010

Even the New Yorker Has Something to Say about YA Lit

For a nice introduction to dystopian novels for teens, take a look at t Laura Miller's article "Fresh Hell" in The New Yorker (June 14 & 21, 2010). She focuses on Suzanne Collins' fine Hunger Games, gives Scott Westerfeld's Uglies its due, and notes other works.

Miller notes why such novels -- series, often -- appeal: with so many hovering parents, any adventure is welcome; the pool of ideas is deep, and as "new" readers, teens don't mind if the plot is kinda like that one Twilight Zone episode; and they are not didactic. In fact, she asserts
Dystopian fiction may be the only genre written for children that's routinely less didactic than its adult counterpart. It's not about persuading the reader to stop something terrible from happening -- it's about what's happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader.
To sum up, Miller points us to Westerfeld's observation that perhaps dystopias appeal "'partly thanks to high school being a dystopia.'" Even if the machinations of the dystopia change, Miller predicts, the appeal to teens of stories set in a broken world, won't go away.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great Book

As ever, I don't remember why Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande appeared on my To Read list. I do know that I am digging her writing! Check out this scene in a high school science class:

The teacher, Ms. Shepherd says, "Because if you don't believe in evolution, then you must not believe that diseases change over time. In which case, there wold be no need for anyone to get new flu shots every year, because obviously if we've been vaccinated once, that should last forever, right?"
"Brilliant," Casey whispered.
"Just something to think about," Ms. Shepherd said. And then the bell rang.
And I just sat there. I didn't want to move. I wanted to sit there and understand everything I'd just heard.
Because until that moment, i was only sort of paying attention. I was treating biology like any other one of my classes -- just something to learn so I could get a good grade and move on. I appreciated that Ms. shepherd was making it fun and interesting, but it was still just a class.
But as of today, I have to admit: I have a crush on science.
Can you love a thought? Can you love a concept?
Nor to be too dramatic, but when Ms. Shepherd explained that about the flu shot and about us all being freaks of nature, it was like something reach inside my chest and yanked on my soul. Like somebody opened up my head and shouted down into my brain, "Do you get? Mena, are you listening?"
Didja like it? Go get a copy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Late Last Night

After signing up folks for our Summer Reading Club, it had gotten pretty quiet at my lib. I might even admit to having zoned out for a bit. At about 8:44, I had to snap back into action and do readers' advisory for a reluctant reader (teen boy) and for a young man (teen, 20-something?) who wanted science fiction recommendations. Between them, Intertwined, one of the James Pattersons, Feed, Leviathan, and a couple of other things went out the door -- just in time to lock up at 9!

Despite this, I have got to brush up on my s/f.