By Amy Clark, Hollywood Library youth librarian
For the Hollywood Star News, June 2010
Here at Hollywood Library, if you are browsing the Staff Picks shelf, you are likely to find a selection of teen books. Teen publishing is flourishing, and adult readers are finding a whole new world to explore. There are a few teen books blazing a trail for adult readers, like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga and The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Many established writers have also moved into the teen section. Sherman Alexie, Isabelle Allende, James Patterson and Terry Pratchett have all published for teens in recent years. But there is so much more to discover.
What is the appeal of teen fiction? Angelina Benedetti of the King County Library System says, “Teen books are shorter, faster-paced and designed to appeal to discriminating readers. They are a quick literary fix without the padding.” I couldn’t agree more. A good teen read will plunge you into the story, bring the characters to life and take you along on their adventure, romance, quest or tragedy.
Some recent favorites:
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, is set in the Portland area; it’s the story of a girl who goes for a ride with her family on one of those unexpected snow days we sometimes get. The accident happens in an instant and, as Mia’s body tries to recover in intensive care, her spirit is left to decide: Should she stay?
Lips Touch: Three Times, by Laini Taylor, is a fantastic and unique combination of prose and illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo. You will find three stories of love, magic and a kiss.
Paper Towns, by John Green, tells the story of Q and his quest to find Margo Roth Spiegelman. As graduation draws near, Margo, Q’s neighbor, the object of his unending desire, disappears. She has been known to take off for a day or two, but this time, it’s different. Q believes she has left clues so that he may find her, which leads to a quest of near-epic proportions.
Graceling, by Kristen Cashore, is the first novel in the fantasy realm of the seven kingdoms. Katsa is born with an extreme skill, or “grace.” She realized her grace when she was 8—her grace is killing. Since then, she has been raised to be a sort of “enforcer” by her uncle, the king. But there is more to Katsa than killing. When a traveler called Po arrives, Katsa joins forces with Po to search for the source of trouble spreading through the kingdoms. It’s a page-turning fantasy adventure.
More favorites to get you started:
Shift, by Jennifer Bradbury—a cross-country bicycle ride, best friends and a mystery.
Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta—an Australian boarding school, a troubled girl, the tragedy of her past, and the war with the neighboring military academy.
A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly–1906, upstate New York, love and murder, based on real events.
Destroy All Cars, by Blake Nelson—James Hoff has something to say!
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier—a classic of teen fiction and still a great read.
A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray—a gothic tale set in Victorian London and Bombay.
There is a feast of fantastic fiction being published for teens; come on into Hollywood Library and dig right in.