Karens Site for Teens and Young Adults

Karen's Website for Teens & Young Adults
Trends in YA Fantasy: Magic, Romance, and Reality Checks
Written by Administrator Saturday, 30 January 2010 10:04
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by Heather Fawcett
Source: Suite 101

The teen fantasy genre of 2010 and beyond isn't about escapism; as The Globe and Mail's Kelly McManus writes in her article "Changeling So Fast," it's about "strong characters grounded in the here and now." Teens are discerning readers, and books have to be believable and relevant to their lives to be successful, even those with supernatural storylines.

So what are some of the trends in the YA fantasy genre? And what currently popular books exemplify these trends?

Fantasy with a Reality Check: What's Hot in YA Fiction

In an interview with About.com, Paula Brehm-Heeger, former President of the Young Adult division of the American Library Association, notes that the popularity of fantasy novels among teens is only continuing to rise. Books that combine fantasy with other elements teens find relevant to their lives, says Brehm-Heeger, are proving to be particularly successful. Think Twilight rather than Tolkien.

So what are some examples of this type of novel? There's the recent trend towards zombie high school stories, for one (for a list of some of the most popular YA zombie books, click here). The high school experience itself (perhaps unsurprisingly) is a common feature of the YA fantasy genre today; popular series like Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and The Immortals by Alyson Noel are about magical teens who still have to deal with homework, peer pressure, and other high school woes. Much contemporary teen fantasy is not so much an "escape from reality" as it is a portrayal of reality with the added burden of a supernatural threat.

Supernatural Characters: A YA Fantasy Genre Trend That's Here to Stay

If there's one trend in the young adult fantasy genre that won't be disappearing anytime soon, it's supernatural protagonists. The Boston Globe's Liz Rosenberg writes in her article "Where the Coolest Kids are, Like, Undead" that supernatural characters are so appealing to teens partly because they work as metaphors for the teen experience. Rosenberg writes that not only do vampires (to choose one example) sleep all day, but they demonstrate an impressive ability to brood, often yearning for what they can't have. I would argue that the supernatural character also embodies the outsider persona with which all teens, given the stress they undergo to "fit in," can identify.

For proof of the popularity of books with supernatural protagonists, look no further than a recent New York Times Children's Bestseller List (paperbacks), where six of the top ten novels star magically "gifted" main characters (Lauren Kate's Fallen; James Patterson's Witch and Wizard; Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book; Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush; Ingrid Law's Savvy; Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver).

What supernatural figure is gaining popularity with writers and teens? It seems that vampires have had their time in the sun, and angels are stepping in to take their place. Two of the books listed above (Fallen and Hush, Hush) explore the theme of the fallen angel while adding a healthy dose of teenage romance. Whether this trend will last is another question. If the reviews of Fallen on such websites as Goodreads.ca are any indication, many young adult readers are tiring of the Twilight-esque girl-meets-superhero romance plotline that typifies many of the new teen fantasy novels.

My prediction? Romantic relationships will never disappear from teen novels, but they may take a backseat to stronger plotlines, while the relationships themselves will become more complex and less idealized (A Curse Dark as Gold is a great example of this phenomenon; you can read my review here). At the same time, expect teen fantasy as a genre to continue to embrace the issues that today's teens – even the ones with supernatural powers – deal with on a daily basis.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 December 2013 20:04
Top Facebook Trends in 2010 Show It's Ruled by Teens
Written by Administrator Thursday, 28 January 2010 10:06
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by Oliver Chiang
Source: Forbes

The most interesting thing about Facebook’s top trends of 2010, which it released here, is how much the social network seems to be ruled by the activity of teenagers. According to Facebook, the fastest growing trend of 2010 was “HMU”. HUH?

The acronym “HMU” stands for “hit me up,” and Facebook explains it as the vernacular kids in school (i.e. teenagers) use to suggest meeting up. At the beginning of last year, HMU was unheard of. Instead, “FML” or “[You can guess the expletive] My Life” topped last year’s Facebook trends. But by the end of 2009, HMU spread quickly, appearing in 1,600 posts per day. By the end of the summer of 2010, HMU had reached 80,000 mentions per day. That’s a lot of teens wanting to HMU each other. By September, HMU’s frequency decreased on average, because school had started and kids could only meet up on weekends.

Movies were the third fastest-growing trend in 2010. And among the top movies talked about on Facebook, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” came in second, under “Toy Story 3″. For the uninitiated, “Eclipse” is part of the “Twilight” series of movies (based on the books) popular with teens about the high-school love triangle between a vampire, human and a werewolf.

And “Justin Bieber”, the only artist to make it on the top 10 trends list, came in at #6. While ‘Biebermania’ runs the gamut of ages, teens of the pre- and post-pubescent variety seem to comprise the majority of the Internet pop star’s fan base.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 December 2013 20:08
Written by Administrator Tuesday, 25 January 2011 02:06
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Welcome to the Music section of our site where you can see and hear some of the most popular music for young adults today.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 February 2011 05:10
Teens Buying Books at Fastest Rate in Decades
Written by Administrator Friday, 29 January 2010 10:00
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by Cecelia Goodnow
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Like a lot of teens, Leslie Cornaby has a crowded schedule -- her days crammed with homework, hobbies and an array of techno diversions. When she's not checking e-mail, she's cruising YouTube or scrolling her iPod to tunes by Pink or Christina Aguilera.

She's also reading -- just for the glorious fun of it -- and says, "Most of my friends are readers, too."

The Shorecrest High School sophomore may not realize it, but she's enjoying the fruits of one of the most fertile periods in the history of young adult literature.

It's a time of strong writing and strong sales as readers in the 12-to-18 age group rock the marketplace.

"Kids are buying books in quantities we've never seen before," said Booklist magazine critic Michael Cart, a leading authority on young adult literature. "And publishers are courting young adults in ways we haven't seen since the 1940s."

Credit a bulging teen population, a surge of global talent and perhaps a bit of Harry Potter afterglow as the preteen Muggles of yesteryear carry an ingrained reading habit into later adolescence.

Not only are teen book sales booming -- up by a quarter between 1999 and 2005, by one industry analysis -- but the quality is soaring as well. Older teens in particular are enjoying a surge of sophisticated fare as young adult literature becomes a global phenomenon.

All of which leads Cart to declare, "We are right smack-dab in the new golden age of young adult literature."

Rebirth began after 1990s

It's a welcome development in a field that has seen ups and downs since the salad days of the 1970s -- the era of greats such as Judy Blume ("Forever") and Robert Cormier ("The Chocolate War"). By the 1990s, critics said teen fiction had grown tired and formulaic.

Now comes the rebirth.

Fantasy and graphic novels are especially hot, and adventure, romance, humor and gritty coming-of-age tales remain perennial favorites. In addition, racy series such as "The Gossip Girls" -- often likened to a teen "Sex and the City" -- have created a buzz.

More notably, though, there's a new strain of sophistication and literary heft as publishers cater to the older end of the spectrum with books that straddle teen and adult markets.

King County librarian Holly Koelling has been tracking these trends as she writes an upcoming edition of "Best Books for Young Adults," an American Library Association reference book.

"There has been an increase in the age of the protagonist, the complexity of the plotting and the content -- the gravity of the content," Koelling said. "I think it may be a reflection of a more sophisticated teenage population."

That's welcome news given the recent gloomy update from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that 12th-graders nationally scored lower in reading in 2005 than in 1992, with scores virtually unchanged since 2002.

Declines were seen at all levels except the top 10th percentile of students -- the teens who presumably make up a good share of the book-buying public.

The teens who are reading welcome the growing sophistication of young adult literature.

"Chick lit and a lot of the 'teen books' out there are great for vacation or a quick read," said Jennifer Schmidt, 15, part of the Shoreline library's Teen Advisory Group, "but I think there are a lot of teens out there who like reading stuff that's a little deeper."

Take a look at the New York Times children's bestseller list.

At No. 7, holding strong after 46 weeks, is "The Book Thief," a Holocaust tale narrated by Death and written with stunning beauty by a young Aussie author, Markus Zusak. It was published in Australia as an adult title.

At No. 5 is Ellen Hopkins' new novel, "Impulse," the tale of three suicidal teens who meet at a psychiatric hospital. Like her meth-addiction novel, "Crank," it's written in a challenging format -- free-verse poetry.

Then there's "Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation," the 2006 National Book Award winner for Young People's Literature.

Set in Revolutionary War-era Boston, it's a searing, audacious tale of racial experimentation that the author describes as part of "a 900-page, two-volume historical epic for teens, written in a kind of unintelligible 18th-century Johnsonian-Augustan prose."

Obviously, teen lit is fast outgrowing its bobby socks.

"It's not just 'Sweet Valley High' right now," said Hayden Bass, a librarian at the Seattle Public Library's downtown Teen Center. "The quality has been pushed way up."

Last Updated on Friday, 06 December 2013 20:05


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