Saturday, December 1, 2007

YA- Why Not?

YA refers to Young Adult-(Teen)-literature; books written for, and sometimes by, teens.

It’s a genre I read a little about when my kids were growing up (trying to keep up). And then in library school I took a course in YA lit. . It was fun. Then I became a YA librarian –serving the population that makes up ¼ of our users. And I met some really cool authors along the way; I’m hooked.

If you have teens in your life, you’ve heard of some of these stories. Even if you don’t, but are aware of popular culture, you’ve been exposed to the genre. Eragon, a movie released last year, is a YA novel. It was written by Christopher Paolini when he was 15 years old. The book is better than the movie, by the way. It’s a fantasy novel about a young man who hatches a dragon and becomes a dragon rider and tries to save the world he lives in. I have yet to read the sequel, Eldest, and I’ve heard the third will be out next year. I’d better get busy. Too busy reading Harry Potter most likely (speaking of popular….)

Kissing the Bee by Kathe Koja was a surprising little book. It really reminded me of some of what it felt like to be a teenager again and it really made me think it would be a great book club book because there were so many talking points: if you could get the young people in your life to open up about all that stuff. Kathe Koja is an author who lives here in Michigan and has won awards for her novels- now I have to read more.

Then there’s Stephenie Meyer’s story of modern vampires in Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. The first one was good; the second was ok (I still wanted to know what would happen); but by the third….it was C’mon already (I really wish you could hear the whine). I know the book was written by a Mormon Mom but some of the plot lines are a little far fetched (even considering it is a vampire/werewolf series and that’s not the part that was far fetched.)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was a great book. Set in Nazi Germany and narrated by Death, it was a great story of the human spirit. It was written as an adult novel but when he sold the rights to an American publisher, it was decided it would be a better fit for a YA audience. All I know is that I liked the book.

There are plenty others out there: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (or anything by her), anything by Chris Crutcher (including his autobiography King of the Mild Frontier), Meg Cabot, Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan, anything by Robin Hobb or Jane Yolan or Brian Jacques or even J.K. Rowling (I know some of you have read all the Harry Potter books) or Donna Napoli’s retelling of fairy tales or even Sarah Miller’s new one Miss Spitfire.

So feel free to take a look at what one quarter of the population reads.