Friday, December 10, 2010

Young Adult Literature

From this post
I'm a major fan of YA literature and have been for some time. And literature that's "technically" for children as well. One of the most highly anticipated books among my friends (both in real life and online) is Mockingjay, the third and final book in Hunger Games series.

The New York Times did an article (CLICK HERE) about the upcoming book and the adults who read the series (and other YA/children's books). The article talks about the draw these books have for us.

Some of the YA/Child Lit books (series) I've read over the last few years include:

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
-- Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay (coming out on August 24th)
"introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world where a powerful government called the Capitol has risen up after several devastating disasters. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the ruthless and evil Capitol randomly selects one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, who are then pitted against each other in a game of survival and forced to kill until only one remains.

Collins says that the idea for The Hunger Games came from channel surfing on the T.V., and that the Greek myth of Theseus serves as inspiration for the book. She also says that her father fighting in the Vietnam War helped her understand how it feels to fear the loss of a loved one. The book has been released as a paperback and also an audiobook, which was read by Carolyn McCormick. The Hunger Games has an initial print of 200,000 which was bumped up twice from 50,000. The book has been translated into 26 different languages and rights have been sold to 38 countries as well."

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare -- City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass
"When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it's hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary's mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know."

Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke -- Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath
"The books chronicle the adventures of teenager Meggie Folchart whose life changes dramatically when she realizes that she and her father, a bookbinder named Mo, have the unusual ability to bring characters from books into the real world when reading aloud. Mostly set in Northern Italy and the parallel world of the fictional Inkheart book, the central story arc concerns the magic of books, their characters and creatures, and the art of reading."

Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer -- Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn
These are so well known and in movie form, I don't think I need to say more.

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordin -- The Lightening Thief, Sea of Monsters, Titans Curse, Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian
The protagonist is Percy Jackson, who discovers that he is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. He learns that the legendary beings of Greek mythology still exist and have always existed, including monsters, cyclopes, empousae, Titans, and the Greek Gods, including the twelve Olympians themselves who dwell in Olympus, which is now situated on the mythical 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Percy is frequently attacked by monsters because he is a child of one of the "Big Three": king of the gods and the god of the sky, Zeus, the god of the sea, Poseidon, and the god of the Underworld, Hades, who made a pact after World War II to not have any more children because they were too powerful and unpredictable. Percy meets many other young demigods, both friendly and hostile, who are also in the process of discovering their ancestry and powers.

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
-- Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice (due out in December)
It tells the story of Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway, a seventeen year old Dhampir girl, who is training to be a body guard for her Moroi best friend, Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir. In the process of learning how to defeat Strigoi (the undead and evil vampires) in St. Vladimir's Academy, Rose finds herself caught in a forbidden romance with her handsome trainer, Dimitri Belikov, while having an unbreakable bond with Lissa.

Artemus Fowl by Eoin Colfer -- Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, Eternity Code, The Opal Deception, The Lost Colony, The Time Paradox, The Atlantis Complex
"...starring a teenage criminal mastermind named Artemis Fowl II. Artemis Fowl, the main character, is a ruthless and extremely intelligent young (human) criminal whose main goal is the acquisition of money through a variety of often illegal schemes. There are many settings in the series, including Siberia, Chicago, Taiwan, Morocco, France and various places in Ireland. One main setting that has been in all the books is the Lower Elements... The author has described the series as "Die Hard with fairies"."

Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull -- Fablehaven, Rise of the Evening Star, Grip of the Shadow Plague, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, Keys to the Demon Prison
Fablehaven is a secret nature preserve protecting the beings of myth and legend from the outside world. The current caretaker, Stan Sorenson, describes it as "a refuge for mystical creatures". Those who live in this large sanctuary, mortal and magical, must abide by a treaty of rules. The most common rules are focused upon "the law of the harvest" or "the law of retribution" meaning, you reap what you sow. If this law in the treaty is broken, you lose the magical protection it provides, allowing for retaliation, which is essentially what drives the plot through the first book. There also exist magical borders that keep most mystical creatures within the preserve, but out of certain domains. The caretaker's house and grounds are within one of these protective boundaries. However, some of these borders dissolve on certain nights, allowing frightening creatures to roam free on the grounds, one of which - Midsummer Eve - occurs in the first book.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling -- Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
The novels revolve around Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard. Wizard ability is inborn, but children are sent to wizarding school to learn the magical skills necessary to succeed in the wizarding world. Harry is invited to attend the boarding school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each book chronicles one year in Harry's life, and most of the events take place at Hogwarts. As he struggles through adolescence, Harry learns to overcome many magical, social and emotional hurdles.

The main narrative of the novels is set in the years 1991-1998, with significant memories from the year 1976 (Harry's parents' Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) year) and memories from various determinable and undeterminable periods after 1945; though little reference is made to features of any period.

The series is so rich that it appeals easily to readers of all ages, and it amazes me that so many people see them only as children's books. Harry Potter is the series that really took me back, so to speak, into the younger reader's genre. I was even interviewed on TV before the release of the final book--how's that for embracing your inner geek? =D

I'm still working as a moderator at the Leaky Lounge, which is the forum for the Harry Potter news site called The Leaky Cauldron. It's been an amazing ride, and this online experience has helped me to meet people I would never have crossed paths with otherwise. I'm excited to be going to LeakyCon11 next July, where I'll finally be able to meet in person (as opposed to online) many of these people I've known for close to five years. To say nothing of being able to visit the new theme park . *dances a jig*

You know, my HP experience and connection with the people on the Lounge has motivated me, in ways I'd never imagined, to do things I've always wanted to do--such as learning to write. I recently decided the adage that youth is wasted on the young is so very true. What I could have done earlier in my life if I'd had the focus I have now with the energy I had then. I'm going to be 56 next month, and I feel so alive right now.

But back on topic!

I've read (or tried to read) other series including:

Blue Blood vampire series (dreadfully written--I'm amazed they were published)

House of Night vampire series (bleck, interesting premise but went from bad to worse until I just quit reading. Plus they were pretty graphic for a YA series)

Septimus Heap (another little wizard boy--cleverly written but no comparison to Harry)

Leven Thumps (first book was okay, but I wasn't able to get into the second one though I know of many people who love them).

Other series I've enjoyed that I wouldn't necessarily call children's or young adult (but I believe are classified as such) include the Eragon series and Lord of the Rings. These two series I would rate as "okay" for the former and "amazing" for the latter. The film made of Eragon was horrendous and the trilogy made by Peter Jackson was wonderful.

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