Posts Tagged ‘young adult’
Vladimir is an ordinary teenager and engages in ordinary activities such as; going to school, having crushes on girls, enjoying time with his best friend, Henry…the one problem Vlad has is he’s a vampire and he thinks he’s about to be outed.
This is a cross between comedy, horror and teenage angst and I thought it was a great little book. There is another vampire in town and a vampire hunter. Vlad is a vampire by birth and lives with his aunt who manages to provide enough blood for his growing needs and helps him hide his vampirical tendencies from the town but not from his best friend, Henry knows the whole deal and still accepts him.
You could take out the vampire parts and this could be the story of a boy with skin problems who is shunned by many in the school, or a boy with behavioural problems who most people don’t want to know, or even a boy with suicidal tendencies who is trying to pass as normal. It is nicely written and the characters are well portrayed.
I’d definitely recommend this book for people or vampires around the ages of 12 to 16, if they’re zombies they may have a little trouble turning the pages when their hands fall off.
You can find my copy for sale here.
This is the first in a series of books where all of a sudden there is no-one over the age of 15, it seems to be the magical number and as soon as you turn 15 you ‘wink out’ and go somewhere else. It’s an interesting book in that it illustrates, at least for me, how books can polarise people. I read a couple of reviews of it on GoodReads and was quite interested to find people who hated the book enough to struggle to the end and then had to defend themselves whereas I found it a fascinating book.
The basic premise is that one day everyone over the age of 15 disappears, parents, teachers, garbage collectors, everyone. Later on in the book we find people disappearing the second they turn 15 and that scares everyone. Just imagine what happens when the oldest person in the village and surrounding areas is almost 15, my first thought was of Lord of the Flies and judging by the reviews I wasn’t the only one. There are two factions in the place, the village kids (Perdido Beach) and the private school kids (Coates) – the ones who were sent to a boarding school as their parents had money to be able to afford to send them away when they were trouble, not in trouble but trouble with a capital T. Then they start finding out some of them have powers. Different types of powers, Lana is able to heal, Sam is able to create a light which can burn, others can teleport and others can run so fast no-one can see them.
Sam is a reluctant hero, he’s the one who keeps his head and we keep being reminded of this, one day he was in the school bus when the driver had a heart attack, he saw, took the driver out of the seat and brought the bus to a safe stop, ever since then he’s been called School Bus Sam. This is brought up constantly as a reminder that heroes can be anywhere and also that sometimes it only takes a clear head to be a hero. Everyone looks to Sam to lead them but he doesn’t want to do that. Caine is the opposite, he wants power, he wants to lead and he thinks Sam will get in the way so he does everything he can to destroy him. Drake is crazy and loves his guns far too much, he’s just waiting for Caine to ‘wink out’ at 15 so he can take over.
I loved this book. It’s aimed at the young adult market, there is violence and it’s rather more controlled than in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I had so much trouble putting it down and at 560 pages it took a while to read. I was constantly wondering what was going to come next, what would happen when Sam and Caine came to the point of ‘winking out’? Other things going through my head were that with that kind of stress the kids of Perdido Beach would be maturing much faster than normal but would it be fast enough to replace the population? Would they ever rejoin the world? Would they figure out they needed to grow food and would it be fast enough?
Other things I found interesting about this book were the characters. Little Pete is autistic, he’s lost in his own world and is only interested in his game, but it turns out that when he’s threatened he can remove himself from the scene and saves himself and his sister, Astrid from Drake. Astrid is interesting in her own right. She’s 14, 10 years older than Little Pete, she’s brainy and has no friends as she alienates them by being too brainy and pointing out different parts of speech after they’ve said it. For example:
‘Demand of who’ Sam said. He zipped his jacket. It was chilly. ‘You want to go demand justice from Caine?’
‘Rhetorical question,’ Astrid commented.
Pointing out that it was a rhetorical question was totally useless but this is the kind of thing she did. She did this continually throughout the book, not just this but also helping to steady Sam and keep Little Pete quiet. I suspect she was also on the Autistic Spectrum but much higher functioning than Little Pete.
I’m waiting anxiously for the next book called Hunger and the one after that, Lies. This is one of the books I was given at the Digital Parents Conference last month by Hardie Grant Egmont, it’d be nice if they gave me the rest of the series but I suspect I’ll have to buy or borrow.
First came the Tomorrow series, followed by The Ellie Chronicles. This book is the third volume in The Ellie Chronicles. I managed to pick up Incurable and Circle of Flight at the same time and thought I’d picked up the earlier book of the two, unfortunately I managed to get it wrong and so I’ve been reading them out of order.
The Tomorrow Series is a very well written series of books set in Australia about an invasion. It’s not WWIII, but it’s bad enough as an unspecified country invades us and tries to take over the country. A group of teenagers fight back. The Ellie Chronicles take over when peace is negotiated. It’s an interesting peace and not everyone agrees with it. Ellie has adopted a boy and appears to be a target for the invaders.
This book has all the same qualities as Tomorrow When the War Began. Great writing, believable characters and lots of tension. In this book, Gavin, Ellie’s adopted brother, is kidnapped and she has to get him back. She has to go over the border and mix with the invaders in order to rescue him. This is not as easy as James Bond makes it out to be and when they are eventually rescued the bruises are obvious.
This is another recommended read. Actually, I’d recommend any of John Marsden’s books. At this point I’m making assumptions that all of his books are as good as these two series, that may be a poor assumption and I’ll read some of his other books in due course and let you know.
Imagine a school set up like a computer game. You make the decisions, you control the action, you play the game. If your profile is right, you’ll get branded by one of the sponsors. Then you’re celebrity cool. And that’s what everyone wants, isn’t it?
Katey, aka Kid, is not so sure, though being branded would solve some financial problems. But when she witnesses a mock suicide, she finds herself drawn to an underground counterculture group – the Unidentified.
Then the real game kicks off.
I had no idea what this book was about, I think I won it on Twitter or Facebook but I didn’t make a note in the book when I received it so it’s anyone’s guess. I tried not to read the back as I’m enjoying the idea of opening a book without knowing anything about it. I’d like to do that with a movie too, especially a Mel Brooks movie; I always wonder if the knowledge that it’s a Mel Brooks movie means I know I’m going to enjoy it as opposed to actually enjoying it. I can’t help wondering if there’s a difference.
Anyway, onto the book. The supposition that schools are handed over to the corporation and the students will study games for rewards is an interesting one. I’d certainly be curious in seeing if that model works, I’m sure it works for some people but others might not like it. I enjoyed the writing, it was aimed fair and square at the young adult market, the lead character is likeable and vulnerable. Computers, large and small are used throughout the book and Twitter (under a different name) is used as a communication device by staff and students alike. All the privacy and nonprivacy options are there and we see them all in use. We see that parents are allowed and able to block their children from leaving school at certain times, parents are able to monitor them and children are able to figure out how to work around those blocks. They do this by programming their computers, so they’re learning more programming which will stand them in good stead when they leave school and get a job. Now, I’m not condoning kids going against their parents instructions but it is interesting how things move on in this book and you don’t wag school by just jumping a fence but by learning how to write programmes.
Kid just happens to be in the right place at the right time and then happens to be the first to investigate the mock suicide, something the school authorities are able to monitor, and so the sponsors pick her out as someone to brand and make her a leader. Kid is not happy with this and feels like a fish out of water but in the end adjusts to the situation and uses it to her advantage. This shows that investigating, putting information together and learning can be a good thing. It indicates Kid has learnt how to do these things in school, pointing out that school can be a good thing. So many people don’t like school and can’t see it as a means to an end but I feel this book does highlight this problem and show a positive solution.
I’d certainly recommend this book for anyone interested in young adult literature. I would be happy to recommend it to roughly 13 years and onwards.
Squid Ink is reading Australian authors at the moment and the first in this series is The Ragwitch by Garth Nix. It’s young adult horror/fantasy. It is told from two different points of view, Julia and her brother Paul. They both end up in another world fighting The Ragwitch.
John Marsden was a secondary school teacher before he started writing books and it shows with his writing. He has a knack for getting insider a teenager’s head and explaining how they’re feeling using their language. Let me tell you a bit about this book.
Seven teenagers go away to a place they call Hell for a camping holiday before going back to school. They have a great time and eventually come back to find war has started and everyone’s been herded into the showground. This is when they find they have to grow up and decide to take action against the enemy. They’re a mix of townsfolk and farmers and are friends from school. The action is located in a district somewhere in Australia, near to a port and some stunning scenery.
This is a very intense book, it starts off as a normal teenage book with normal teen relationships . There are some hints fairly early on as to what is likely to happen but I didn’t see them the first time I read it. The first time I was concentrating on the raw emotion that comes with this book and not any peripheral information that might actually be useful. There’s seven books in the series and I guess I’m going to have to make sure to read them all again, in order this time, to get the full impact.
I managed to miss the movie they made based on this book when it came out in the cinemas so I was fairly quick to borrow it when it came into the video shops. I watched it yesterday and was just amazed at how like the book it is. Like every movie made from a book, it’s incredibly hard to translate things exactly from book to movie so some things have been changed but they’re very much within the feel of the book. The actors they’ve chosen look almost exactly like they’ve been described in the book, except for Ellie, who I imagined as being more rugged and less slender but they’ve got Robyn down pat, the actor looks just young and innocent enough to pull off some of the scenes she’ll need to do should they make some of the later books into movies.
If you haven’t read this series or seen the movie, I can’t stress enough how much you need to read and view them. They are very much current Australia with current issues. The movie has been updated in that the heroes have mobile phones and use Skype, but it hasn’t been updated by much as the book was only written in 1993. There is no gender inequality, with both Ellie and Homer seeming to take charge, in fact, it’s Ellie who loses her cool first and tells one of the guys off for falling asleep at his post and Homer calms her down. It’s at this point that there’s some swearing and for the first time I wasn’t shocked or upset by the words as they just felt the perfect words for Ellie to use, she was upset and needed to get her message across in the most concise way, so she swore. I can understand that and have done the same thing on occasion, but never with her conciseness.
There is death and mayhem in both the book and the movie. One of the young girls is shot and her boyfriend, who’s fallen in love with her, takes her into the hospital to ensure she has a chance of surviving, knowing that the moment he’s seen he’ll be taken into custody and put with everyone else. This is what he does and they both manage to use the same cover story so as not to let the invaders know there are other teenagers out there.
In the book the invaders are not given a race, we are lead to believe they are from some country, possibly Asian. This is made slightly clearer in the movie as we actually see their faces a little. I’m not good at figuring out where different people are from but I’m sure someone else could do that very easily from the little we saw. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, I’d hate for it to ruin relationships between the two countries.
I have some books by John Marsden for sale on the website, but only the third book in this series. I’d list this copy of Tomorrow, When the War Began but it’s more than a little dogeared and creased and is only fit for the rubbish bin.
How to miscategorise a book in one easy lesson, have all the categories listed on pieces of paper on the floor, throw up the book and use whatever it lands on. Flippant, I know, but sometimes I’m very tempted.
Every Thursday from 8pm (currently daylight savings time) there’s a fabulous little chat on Twitter for the South Pacific Region. You can participate wherever you are in the world using the hash tag #spbkchat. Last Thursday the discussion centred on Young Adult literature. Until then I thought Young Adult and Teen were the same category and I’ve broken down the categories my website under Children, Teen and Adult. How wrong can you be!
It’s much more complicated than that and I’m writing this to try and get some sort of clarity in my own mind. Garth Nix talks about it in his comment on this blog and he suggests Young Adult books have an entry age rather than an age range and that many adults happily read Young Adult books. From what I know about children and how they mature into adulthood it seems to make some kind of sense. He suggests the entry age is 13-14 which is generally about the time puberty starts and when they start getting bored with Children’s books. I do have to say this is just a guide as the onset of puberty varies as does the reading age of children/teens/young adults. One of the things you can use as a guide is the themes of the books or the types of issues it covers. Parents of gifted children have a problem in that they’re children may be several years younger than their reading age and the books they’re capable of reading may have themes they consider in appropriate. Consider a child of eight who has a reading age of 13 but the maturity of an eight-year-old. A 13-year-old would be up to reading books that might refer to sex but the eight-year-old would not be.
It’s an interesting dilemma and one that has been debated many, many times. I’m not going to change the categories on my website but I will give you the guidelines I use to help you and your teen/young adult choose books there. Children is very easy, it’s for any person under about the age of 10-13. Teens is for anything between there and adult. If I’m not sure I’ll put it in adult, if it’s Young Adult it could be in either Teens or Adult. Many of the science fiction books in Adult are actually suitable for Teens and Young Adult as well. If you have any doubt or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll do my best for you.
Another expose from AussieCon 4
The panel was actually called “We’re all connected, all the time: blogs and social networking in the world of YA spec fic” and was supposed to have Bec Kavanagh, Lili Wilkinson, Megan Burke and be chaired by Mif Farquharson and I think they were all there.
Anyway to give you a bit of background if you happen to be youngsters. When I was young it was totally uncool to read books and I received a lot of flack about what I read and the fact that I read, the ladies on this panel all agreed with this and consensus was that it’s really only changed fairly recently. It was also rather hard to contact authors, they would have to travel in order to see their fans and that is very tiring, imagine if you’re a young reader and your favourite author is coming to town but your parents insist on you being somewhere else! Series such as Twilight and Harry Potter have made it cool to read while social media have made it much easier to have access to authors.
Let’s have a quick look at the different types of social media. We’ve got blogs which can be written by the authors themselves or by fans and some of them can develop quite good followings. There’s Twitter, Facebook and Myspace all of which have their own particular quirks and then there’s Skype. Skype has made it possible to have the author be in their own home or office and yet come into the classroom and have a chat with the students studying their novel. All of these make the author much more accessible and make it easier to talk with them and other fans.
Social media gives the readers ownership over the authors and enables them to contact the author in real time and have their questions answered rather than waiting for the author to come their way so as they can sit in a crowd and hope their questions will be answered. It’s a very good thing for those people who are shy about speaking up in a crowd but are quite comfortable to put fingers to keyboard, just as an example, my kids are perfectly happy to speak up and ask questions when they’re in a crowd but I generally don’t so if I have something to say or a question then it generally goes unsaid.
There are some wonderful young adult fans who are writing down their thoughts and publishing them on their own blogs but I wasn’t quick enough to write down the details. This is because young adults like to own the work and share their thoughts.
From an author’s point of view social media is fabulous as they don’t have to spend time travelling everywhere and take time away from writing. It also gives the author the flexibility to answer the questions when they have time so they can take the time to formulate good answers. Twitter is challenging for this one as you only have 140 characters. Social media also reminds people you haven’t dropped the radar, beforehand authors were never heard from between books and now they’re a constant reminder and from my point of view that can only be good for reading.
There was some discussion about the type of emails the panel have received. Some of them have been from young adults in the throes of depression and in this case it’s best to refer them to Beyond Blue or some other organisation while also mentioning lack of qualifications in this area and thanking them for reaching out as reaching out is the hardest part of depression.
It’s a very fine line between sharing enough information and too much information. This is something anybody online needs to be aware of. I’m always fairly careful about it and don’t tell people the names of my kids nor anything about my other half other than calling him OH. Every person needs to work out how much is enough.
Just a couple more points. There are more female bloggers than male bloggers in young adult spec fic. Some bloggers have been offered book deals from their blogs.
The panel mention the book about a black girl where the cover had a white girl on it. The cover was changed solely due to the blogging community. I actually wrote a blog about it at the time and you can read it here and then follow the links to read the real movers and shakers in that change. It was quite exciting when Bloomsbury Publishing changed the cover.
One of the panel helps run Inside a Dog, a website for young adult readers and they run the Inky Awards. It’s a fabulous website and makes me wish I was actually the age I say I am so I could join up and enter all the competitions.