Thursday, February 28, 2013

Something there is...that loves a good zombie book.

Not because zombies are pretty and smell great. Not because they flip their hair or smolder (although Warm Bodies may have changed our minds on the romantic potential). But because zombies are a hive of human fear. A collective of horrors that you simply can't outrun. They are compelling, their danger only made worse by underestimating them.  Make no mistake, they're going to consume your brain.

A few of our YA favorites:

THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan. This book started it all for us. Even started off an incredible series of fauxtographs. This book is not just about zombies, but about the forces that keep you isolated, that make you aware of your vulnerability. And how inconvenient zombies can be when you're in the middle of a good love story.

THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers. A lot of people like to say this book isn't about zombies, but instead about a group of teens trapped inside a high school. And we must admit there's very much a "Breakfast Club" feel to it in the best of ways. But the zombies in this book serve as a force that each of the characters must reckon with. It's not easy living in the aftermath of carnage, and being confronted with the consequences of your true self. Sometimes that's where the horror lies.

THE END GAMES by T. Michael Martin. SO GLAD we snagged an ARC of this book. In this world, two brothers must immediately figure out a way to adapt to the changing world around them. There is no going back to before. We can't say too much so we don't spoil the story for you, but the characters each go through their own journey, and there are so many twists and moments where you have no clue how things will turn out. But the whole time you're rooting for these very human characters and daring to hope there's a way to survive a creature that adapts more quickly than you.

In a good zombie book, there's a guaranteed fight. A survival story--often the least likely human you'd think would ever make it or deserve it. There's guts, and the skin of your teeth, and anger at how some creature so stupid and shuffling could outsmart you. Because the thing survival, not often the strongest or the smartest survive. But the most adaptable.

Sooooo...If you were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, would you rather be alone in your quest for survival or would you want someone with you? Who might that be (fictional or real)?  Comment on this post to be entered to win our well-loved ARC of THE END GAMES. (US/Canada only; winner posted next week).
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The WHYA girls meet every week to read and critique each other's writing. Recently we’ve incorporated brainstorming sessions into our meetings where we hammer out new ideas for books we want to write in the future. All this talk about books we want to write has us thinking about books we want to read.

Here are our wish lists at present:

  • a YA Indiana Jones
  • a YA novel about the lost city of Atlantis
  • a sequel or companion novel to Robin McKinley’s THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN

  • a contemporary set in Montana with cowboys and horses
  • a sci-fi set on another planet
  • a sequel to CHIME by Franny Billingsley

  • a YA Battlestar Galactica
  • more stories featuring strong animal bonds/friendships (esp. dogs and horses
  • companion novels (but NOT sequels) to SCORPIO RACES (set on Thisby) and HUNGER GAMES (like POVs from other districts)

  • a sequel or companion novel to JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
  • more books with family and sibling relationships that are central to the storyline rather than just subplots
  • books about Amish teens

What books would you like to wish into existence?
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

SAT scores are due this week...I want to talk to those of you whose verbal score is basically carrying you on to college.

There's this rumor that if you go on to study English Literature that you will both lose your passion for reading and will have no practical job to go to upon graduation. It's kind of a scary thing.

But for me, it just isn't true.

I started college as a photography major because it was the single subject in school that I enjoyed. This was before digital, mind you, but there was no place I'd rather be than in the photo lab with smelly chemicals and an enlarger. I didn't love taking the photos as much as I loved manipulating them afterward. It was magic.

And then it was obsolete.

But I switched majors in college well before the Stop Bath went down the drain. I absolutely could have carried on and learned new things and I'd have realized my dream of working for National Geographic. Maybe. But at some point, I realized photography probably wasn't practical. And maybe I wasn't good enough.

So I switched to English Literature (hahahahahahaha).

I was going to community college and paying my own way, so I didn't want input from my parents. But they were a little relieved when I explained to them that I would go on to teach or I could go into any sort of occupation requiring communication. Which is, like, EVERYTHING (feel free to use my logic when approaching parents).

But I had read most of the "classics," and thought there might be nothing better than reading all friggin' day and getting graded for it. I had opinions. I had evidence for those opinions. That was me sorted.

But I was petrified that I'd lose my joy for reading and creating. What's awesome is that my appreciation for the written word was heightened, challenged, validated, and my views simplified. It was the best thing this verbal girl could do.

My education was spread out over several years from community college (if you're thinking of this option, I would wholeheartedly encourage it depending on your location. I basically had a private college education from moonlighting professors, for $68/credit. Bargain!) to a state college to a year's study abroad in England, and ultimately finishing my degree from a little place in the Midlands.

As you're deciding your course of study, know this: you can't predict how your life will go. You might start out at a four-year college, write a book and get published before graduation. Hello, Kody Keplinger (author of The DUFF and other gems). You might switch majors for what you think is a practical reason, but probably more about passion and being true to yourself. But the important thing during college is that you're adaptable.

The important thing to remember is that you're Majoring in Life. (You know you just starred that bit of genius).
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Show of hands: Who watched the Super Bowl? OK, next show of hands: Who watched the Super Bowl commercials? *raises hands* We definitely did.

Any favorites? These are a couple of ours:

Budweiser's Baby Clydesdale

Amy Poehler for Best Buy

But along with the good, there was also the... problematic. For example:

Audi's "Seize the Moment"

On first glance, this seems like a pretty cute, harmless story, right? A Young Adult story, even. And it's one we've seen a hundred times. The poor guy just needs something to boost his confidence and go after what he wants. What's the big deal?

Well, what he wants is a girl.

Yeeeeeah. See, the girl is a person too, but the commercial doesn't treat her as such. It treats her as an object to be had. And though the "hero" does suffer some consequences for taking what isn't his, it's the girl's boyfriend who gives him a black eye. Because, you know, she belongs to him. Like property.

Note to all writers -- in YA, adult lit, advertising, wherever: DO NOT DO THIS. Whether male or female, it is not cool to treat people like things, not even like desirable "prizes." It's demeaning, first and foremost. It's also just lazy writing.

How much cooler would it have been if the girl stood up for herself? (Not that we advocate violence...) How much more interesting would it be if the girl secretly liked the "hero" too, and drove off with him in the Audi? Or hey, maybe she wanted a snazzy new car, so she decks him and then drives off in the Audi alone.

There are a world of possibilities when you take her character into account as a fully realized person. All of them are more complex and compelling than what we saw.

* * *

Since we're talking about problematic commercials anyway, here are two more that garnered a lot of reaction on Sunday night:

Dodge Ram's "So God Made a Farmer"

It's a great tribute, and speaks to the values of hard work and wholesomeness that our society reveres. It's also beautifully made. But our friends at Teen Librarian Toolbox wrote a good post about some of the issues with current farming processes. Doesn't mean there's anything "wrong" with the commercial, but it's an important reminder that sometimes there's more to the story.

VW's "Get In, Get Happy"

This "happy-go-lucky" ad had a lot of people scratching their heads. Is this racist? Some people think soJamaica, however, does not. Who's right? Who knows.

It's worth thinking about all of these commercials and the issues they raise, though. It's worth thinking about what we're saying in the stories we're telling.

* * * 

What do y'all think? Did you like these? Were you offended? What were your favorite ads from the Super Bowl?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
The Fault in Our Stars

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