S. E. Hinton and the Y.A. Debate

15 October 2014

From The New Yorker:

S. E. Hinton recalls that when she published her début novel, “The Outsiders,” in 1967, “there was no young-adult market.” Her book, written by a teen-ager about teen-agers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was issued in hardcover by the Viking Press and then in softcover by Dell—both adult trade imprints. “ ‘The Outsiders’ died on the vine being sold as a drugstore paperback,” Hinton told me, but her publisher “noticed that in one area it was selling very well. Teachers were using it in classes. All of a sudden, they realized that there was a separate market for young adults.”

Since then, “The Outsiders” has gone on to sell more than ten million copies. Along with Hinton’s other books for teen-agers—“That Was Then, This Is Now,” “Rumble Fish,” “Tex,” and “Taming the Star Runner”—“The Outsiders” remains a mainstay on middle-school and high-school reading lists, and it continues to sell well in digital formats. This week, “Rumble Fish” will be a Starbucks pick, available for free download through the coffee chain’s app or via iTunes. For Hinton, who almost single-handedly brought the Y.A. genre into being, this marks a kind of transgenerational full-circle return. The author who changed the way that books for teens were written and published has seen her own work go from the spinning wire display rack near checkout to an online marketplace accessible while you wait for your morning latte.

. . . .

The Y.A. debate has lately broadened into a discussion about the portrayal of adulthood in American culture. A. O. Scott’s essay on the subject for the Times last month traced our national resistance to grownup responsibilities all the way back to the works of James Fenimore Cooper and Mark Twain. Like Huck Finn, many of the young men in Hinton’s books are without proper parental supervision. The adults in her fiction are alcoholics, drug addicts, or simply absent. Scott quotes the critic Leslie Fiedler:

the typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat—anywhere to avoid “civilization,” which is to say, the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage, and responsibility.

While evasion and violence are recurring motifs in Hinton’s books, several of her novels end with the young men accepting and benefitting from adult responsibilities. When I asked Hinton about this, she said, “like every other teen-ager, I was sure the adults had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know how adults thought. I didn’t ‘get’ them, so it was easier for me to leave them out.”

Hinton was herself a high-school student when she began writing “The Outsiders.” The novel, she told me, grew out of her dissatisfaction with the way teen-age life was being portrayed in the books she read. “There was only a handful of books having teen-age protagonists: Mary Jane wants to go to the prom with the football hero and ends up with the boy next door and has a good time anyway. That didn’t ring true to my life. I was surrounded by teens and I couldn’t see anything going on in those books that had anything to do with real life.” She remembers drawing inspiration from an eclectic range of titles, including “Gone with the Wind,” Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Great Expectations,” Will James’s cowboy books, and the science-fiction stories of Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

The Maze Runner

2 September 2014

Here’s a link to James Dashner’s books

Sole survivor in Texas shooting looks for hope amid her horror

14 July 2014

From CNN:

Cassidy Stay has seen the worst — the brutal killings of her parents and siblings, ages 4 to 13, in their Texas home.

On Saturday, the 15-year-old quoted Dumbledore, the wise man from the Harry Potter series, in hopes of finding some good amid the horror.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times,” Cassidy said, citing J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

The remarks — at a public memorial for her family — were the teenager’s first public comments since she emerged as the lone survivor from the carnage in her family’s Spring home.

Link to the rest at CNN and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Stuff YA Readers Say

12 July 2014

Thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Angry Robot closes Exhibit A and Strange Chemistry imprints due to “market saturation”

23 June 2014

From The Bookseller:

Sci-fi and fantasy publisher Angry Robot is closing its Exhibit A and Strange Chemistry imprints with immediate effect.

The publisher, part of the Osprey Group, said in a statement that the two imprints had been “unable to carve out their own niches”.

Strange Chemistry focused on YA fiction, while Exhibit A released crime and mystery titles.

A statement from Angry Robot said: “Angry Robot Books has a history of innovation and we continue to go from strength to strength. We’re constantly trying out new concepts and new ideas, and we continue to publish popular and award-winning books. Our YA imprint Strange Chemistry and our crime/mystery imprint Exhibit A have – due mainly to market saturation – unfortunately been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success.”

. . . .

Author Kim Curran’s book Delete, the third title in her Shifter series, was due to be published by Strange Chemistry. She told The Bookseller: “I’m shocked and devastated to learn that Delete – the last in my Shifter series – won’t be published by Strange Chemistry in August as planned. I hope I will find another way to get the book out to all my readers who’ve been so supportive over the years. And my heart goes out to everyone affected by the closure.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to Imogen for the tip.

A Young Adult Author’s Fantastic Crusade to Defend Literature’s Most Maligned Genre

10 June 2014

From Nerve:

Last week, I read Ruth Graham’s article “Against YA.” In it, Graham contends that adults should be embarrassed to read YA novels. Instead, grownups should focus their attention on serious, “literary fiction” that grapples with “big ideas about time and space and science and love.”

As a YA writer myself, I was understandably offended. I’m not some schlocky trash-peddler. I’m a serious author, capable of far more than maudlin plot twists and clichéd dialogue. That’s why I decided to confront Graham in person.

I picked her up outside the graveyard before nightfall.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said, as we stepped into my father’s beat up Chevy. We were going 70 miles an hour, two girls with different colored hair.

“Why did you say that about YA?” I asked, as tears streamed down my face like rain.

“Because it’s true!” she hissed. And I saw in the moonlight that her anger made her beautiful. This was before the war, when the oceans still had water, and the moon was still visible in the sky.

“YA is formulaic, worthless dreck,” she said, transforming into a vampire.

She bared her fangs.

“I’m 170 years old,” she said, and blew some smoke into my face.

Link to the rest at Nerve and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

Author John Green and his awesome fans

2 June 2014

Thanks to Meryl for the tip.

J.K. Rowling to pen three ‘Harry Potter’ spin-off movies

31 March 2014

From the Daily News:

Muggles, rejoice! More wizarding movies are on the way.

J.K. Rowling has teamed up with Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara to write three new films based on the world of Harry Potter.

. . . .

The main character of the trilogy will be Newt Scamander, a “magizoologist.” The spin-off will be set before Potter’s adventures.

Link to the rest at the Daily News and thanks to Barb for the tip.

4 Cliche Things Every Dystopian Young Adult Movie Does

31 March 2014

From Cracked:

This year, fans of the young adult dystopian film genre will have four different movies from four different franchises playing in theaters. Besides the second Hunger Games, there’s Divergent, Maze Runner, and The Giver, all based on novels from the same section of your local Books-A-Million. But don’t worry if you can’t afford to watch all of them — if you’ve seen one, you can guess how the others go.

. . . .

#4. Every Movie Begins With Youngsters in Drab Clothing Riding Trains

Apart from the love triangles and the overabundance of grayscale, the first surefire sign that you’re about to watch YA dystopian sci-fi is to have a bunch of forlorn-looking teens standing around, all wearing the same grim clothes.

. . . .

Heaven forbid they fly to their destinations, which might cut down on the two-and-a-half-hour runtime all of these movies insist on having.

. . . .

#1. All of the Authors Are Pyromaniacs



Link to the rest at Cracked and thanks to Shantnu for the tip.

A Beginner’s Guide to YA Dystopian Novels

28 March 2014

From GroupThink:

If you hadn’t noticed, YA scifi/fantasy—and more specifically, YA dystopia—is having something of a moment lately. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was the most successful film of 2013, and there are more than 50 million print and digital copies of the books available in the US alone. Divergentdominated the box office when it opened last weekend. And if Wikipedia is anything to go by (debatable), the sheer number of dystopian works has increased dramatically since the turn of the century. These books may be written for teens, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be worthwhile even once you’ve left high school behind.

But some novels are more equal than others, and there’s a lot of variation within this genre. The following is simply an introduction to this brave new world, focusing on relatively recent releases.

. . . .

We’ll start off with the obvious. The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, is pretty much the poster child for YA dystopia at this point. If you haven’t heard about it, you’ve probably been hiding under a rock; please contact your nearest teenager for a heavy sigh, an eye-roll, and a plot summary before continuing. The series has a complex protagonist—and the first female character to lead a movie to the top of the box office rankings in 40 years—in Katniss Everdeen, and the books tackle serious issues surrounding race, class, and other topics far darker than most people expect from a book geared toward the lip gloss- and Axe-wearing crowd. Are they the best-written books I’ve ever written? No, but they’re worthwhile anyway.

. . . .

Ally Condie’s Matched takes place in a society where the government determines the spouse of every citizen. 17-year-old Cassia is matched with her best friend—but when she goes to view his information, another person shows up on the screen for an instant, forcing Cassia to question the accuracy of her match and, ultimately, her faith in the creatively-named Society. The series is lighter than The Hunger Games, but it’s still a good read (as long as you can handle the fact that the premise is basically set up to create a love triangle). Matchedhasn’t been made into a movie yet, but it’s on the way—Disney bought the rights before the book was even released, and supposedly production has begun.

. . . .

Let’s cleanse our palates with something good, shall we? M.T. Anderson’s Feed is a reminder, more than anything else on this list, that YA literature can be for adults as well. Feed is a more classic dystopia than the others here, following in the footsteps of Huxley or Orwell, and takes place in a future where everything is controlled by corporations, everyone follows trends like zombies, and the Internet-like “feed” is implanted directly into people’s brains. There’s a romance here, but make no mistake—this is not a light story. The end ofMockingjay is downright cheerful by comparison. Anderson makes some heavy critiques of modern society, but he clearly knows his craft and. Read it.

Link to the rest at GroupThink

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