Young Adult Novel Commonalities [Guest Post]

[**Everyone please welcome my wonderful friend Teresa! *waves* She has written a great post on YA book commonalities that I thought would be smart to share. Please give her some love!]

Consider the copious amount of books out there in the world—on the shelves of bookstores, tucked away in boxes, some new and freshly printed, some worn and used, and others out of print but equally loved by avid readers. Books have been around for quite a few centuries, and storytelling for even longer—and even today, hundreds of people continue to willingly pick up a novel for the thrill of adventure, the invitation for new knowledge, and even the promise of intrigue and mystery.

Of course, at some point in a novel’s career, it will have been read by at least one person—but lesser known novels pale in comparison to popular novels that have captured the world and the entirety of pop culture by storm. The question is, what makes books (like the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Twilight series [whether people can agree on the quality of any of these books is a completely different story]) so popular? What aspects of books like these are able to take a hold of the reader’s attention? What kind of things enrapture and take the world by storm?

Five common aspects that one can find in many young adult novels:

1.      Love triangles

Admit it. Almost every single novel you’ve read, every story you’ve immersed yourself in, there is almost always a love triangle. The most popular scenario would be the one in which: girl has best friend who has secretly been in love with her for the entirety of their friendship; girl meets mysterious, tall, dark, and handsome guy; magical/paranormal adventure ensues best friend to confesses to girl; girl rejects best friend; girl realizes her “undying love” for the other love interest *cue dramatized scene of riding of into the sunset*

Maybe people like the excitement of a tormented hero/heroine agonizing over which love interest to choose; maybe people like to see the character suffer from the throes of love (because secretly, we’re all sadists at heart). But whatever the reason, love triangles are the money makers of the literary industry—not that anyone’s complaining about it.

2.      A coming of age story

Everyone likes a good story—even better, everyone likes a good story that they can relate to in some shape or form. Coming of age stories give you the opportunity to be able to immerse yourself in the hero’s adventure and to even learn a little about yourself along the way. As you journey alongside the protagonist, you are able to grow with the hero; you readily connect with the character’s realizations and ideas because you probably feel as though you’ve experienced the same events that the hero has. And in a way, you’ve learned some kind of moral lesson that you wouldn’t have otherwise come to the conclusion of by yourself. Yes, coming of age stories are common tropes—but it doesn’t mean that it’s something to scorn or avoid when you’re reading a novel.

3.      Dystopian novels

Honestly, what’s not to like? The idea of a society so completely different from our own yet somehow showing us what the world could turn into years or centuries from now (even though it may seem impossible or a ridiculously far stretch)—it’s strange enough to be able to catch the attention of millions of readers. Dystopian novels allow us to stretch our imaginations and create a ‘what if’ factor that boggles the mind because it is so alien to the culture we are accustomed to. Dystopians basically take aspects of society’s flaws (such as humanity’s greed, pride, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth) and create universes in which these flaws are what cause the downfall/transformation of society into a dystopia.

4.      Paranormal and Urban Fantasy novels

To generalize, paranormal and urban fantasy are genres in which aspects of fantasy (vampires, werewolves, fairies, psychic powers, etc.) bleed into the real world. What generally happens is the main character, who lives a boring and mundane life, is (by some coincidental or maybe not so coincidental chance) thrust into a life threatening situation which eventually leads to his or her assimilation into the supernatural world. These genres are extremely popular and the number of books will only continue to grow. It’s interesting to think and wonder if there could possibly be another fantastical side to the world we live in, where all those fairytale creatures we’ve heard stories of ever since we were children have suddenly become very, very real. It’s unlikely, but people like to imagine—which is why this genre is so popular among young adult novels.

5.      Love interests are always attractive—while the main character never is (or seems to think)

As shallow as it seems, it’s almost inevitable that people will find themselves attracted to extremely good-looking people. It happens just as often in novels—imagine this: Heroine finds herself face to face with “a perfectly fine male specimen with a divine set of XY chromosomes, his hair flowing in the wind created by a conveniently placed fan, perfect shining white teeth, and extremely kissable lips”. There is frantic heart-pounding filling the silence as she finds herself enraptured with boy’s gaze and she just can’t find it in herself to tear her eyes away.

The love interest is made out to be some Greek Adonis, someone who will not only take the protagonist’s heart but also millions of readers’ hearts as well. But somehow, in some strange twist of irony, the main character refuses to believe that she is remotely attractive. This situation is usually found with female protagonists—and it’s sad to see that kind of double standard in books. But that kind of thinking strikes a chord in readers because so many people have issues with their own self-worth and beauty—they can easily connect with the protagonist because of that. And as the main character slowly learns that they are worth something—that they’re beautiful—readers will get that same rush of happiness and understand that just like the hero, they themselves are better than merely a “plain Jane”.

There are so many other commonalities that could be listed, but to try to list them all would be impossible. But the next time you pick up a book, try to see if you can identify any other popular clichés found in young adult novels!

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Guest Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Hey guys! Say hello to my friend Maribeth over at ABCbooknerd who is guest posting today! She is one of the only people I can talk to about any book at school! I highly recommend to go check out her blog when you’re finished reading her review (:

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: June 7, 2011

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very peculiar photographs. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

This book is creepy, I’m not going to lie. Although it opens up very simply, very innocently, this book lures you in and then kills the lights. It makes creaking noises and then slams doors in your face while you’re stumbling around in the dark. It gives you chills and makes you look around discreetly to see if you can find any peculiar (a.k.a. supernatural) kids doing anything out of the ordinary, all the while trying to keep an eye on the pages and and an eye on the lightswitch and your back to a wall. The slow beginning is well worth the crawling-flesh and staring-eyes phenomena that occur while you’re reading.
 

Despite thescary/horror aspect to the book, it’s in several different genres, not just thriller. There’s fantasy with the magical aspect of the peculiarities the children have. There’s also sci-fi with the space-time continuum paradox. There’s historical fiction (time travel = history). There’s even a bit of romance. Basically, the book caters to a wide variety of readers and definitely succeeds, in my opinion, in attracting a diverse audience, without failing to please. It’s not for the faint-hearted – I myself had to slam the book shut several times just to catch my breath and to get some of the pictures out of my head. But despite the fact that I don’t really like the horror genre (books, movies, any of it), I really enjoyed this book. The plot was great, the secrets that unfolded throughout the book kept me interested to see what was in store for the characters at the end.

And there we come to the end: the unpredictable, horrifying, entertaining, and alluring end. The manner in which the story concluded made me almost scream with frustration. I went through all those disgusting moments, all the enjoyable memories and creepy stories, together in a great book, just to find out that there’s going to be a sequel, and I MUST READ IT!!! I’m dying to find out what happens to the kids next!

Also, the photographs that went along with the book were great visual aids. Most of them weren’t scary at all, and then when you read the chapter they were in, they really helped the story come together. Several warnings, though: this book is blunt, frank, etc. in several ways (sexual, language, etc.) and is not appropriate for children or immature teens. There is some violence and grotesque descriptions, but it is great for adults and teens who enjoy the occasion thrill. With this huge mix of emotions, plot, genres, and formats, I recommend the book to anyone with the audacity to enjoy a good scare, love a good couple, endure torturous adventures, and best of all, believe that books are the stuff of legends. Enjoy!!!!

~Maribeth at ABCbooknerd

Guest Post: Good vs. Bad

Good vs. Bad
[Guest Post by Leigh]

Today, I have one of my friends Leigh writing a post. A few weeks ago, I was asking her if she would choose the good or bad guy because it was right after I finished Lisa Desrochers Personal Demons. And she started to explain about how girls originally chose the bad guy blah blah blah, and so I asked her to just write a guest post because I thought she portrayed her reason interestingly. And so here’s her post!

Recently, Alison asked me “Angels or demons; which one would you choose?” I thought for a minute before giving my response on analyzing humanistic tendencies. But she realized it was incredibly long, so she told me to just write it down. And here it is.

The thing about choosing between the “heaven and hell”, “good and evil”, “light and dark”  or “angel and demon”, is that you automatically know which is the RIGHT answer (whichever is the symbol of good/light at the moment). The thing you don’t always recognize however, or the thing that you don’t want to admit, is that you, just as you reply with that right answer, you regret it a little because the darker choice is also appealing and mysterious. Reflect; as a human being, you’re always attracted to the dark, the evil side of things. If this wasn’t true, would there ever be any villains in books? No Darth Vader (Star Wars), no Capitol (The Hunger Games). Would there be any bad people? Or symmetric themes in religion, such as Lucifer in the Bible?

There is always that flip side of the coin that you’re never allowed to explore, and human nature, being a curious and not completely angelic thing, draws you to it. Take teen girls, for instance. They are always drawn, for some span of time, to “bad boys”. That is, until they learn why they shouldn’t like bad boys and resort back to the clean-cut type that society approves of. Just as the hot bad boys in life and the sometimes attractive antagonists in literature exemplify, human nature is to do bad things, to go to that bad side; but society keeps us coming back. Some books, such as The Hunger Games no longer have a society like that, so their evil Capitol thrives.

My answer, Alison, is that I would choose the demon, because, let’s face it, evil dudes are just so much more attractive… IF I could go back to the angel after I get tired of being evil. Otherwise I would choose the Angel, since I know that’s the “right” choice and will probably serve me better in the long run, since angels are nicer and all… But I would probably wonder about the demon forever after.

Okay, so Leigh said that she would go with the bad guy first. As tempting as that sounds, I wouldn’t fall into the trap. I would probably choose the good guy just because I’m that kind of person.

Now tell me, what side would you choose?

Guest Post: Your Reading Speed

How fast do you read?

Today we have one of my friends from her blog Next in Show! She’s one of my good friends that also enjoys books as much as I do. So I asked her if she would like to join me on a post. And our topic today is reading speed. So…Are you a fast reader? A slow one? Or does it vary?!

Honestly, I think I read pretty quickly. All of my friends say I read super fast too. On average, I could probably read a few books a week and get a lot done in a month. Currently, I get about 6-10 books a month. Not a whole lot, but definitely more than some people I know. When I entered the blogosphere, I was amazed hearing some people had finished their twenty-something book for the month! Now that is insane reading!

I read differently every time, though. Usually, I read quickly because I cannot put the book down. Sometimes it’s because I really can’t wait for the book to be over. I know in school I sometimes skim the words to get as much read as I can in the two seconds before class begins. Even though I skim, I usually end up taking in a lot from looking over the words. Skimming to me is reading, just doing it a lot more quickly in an erratic way of looking at random words…

But it doesn’t matter how fast you read. As long as you’re enjoying the book you’re reading in a pace that is comfortable for you, then it’s fine! Don’t ever feel pressured to read faster or slower just because someone’s saying something to you.

[R from Next in Show]

I can finish a *good* book of medium novel length in…oh, 3-5 hours? But WAIT-how long is that? I’m talking…one of Sarah Dessen’s longer novels, a Hunger Games book, or even the first Harry Potter. I retain a fair amount of information when a book sucks me in…unless it was just released. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous, but if I’m practically desperate to get to the end, I very nearly skim and scan, subconsciously. In fact, when the seventh Harry Potter book came out, and I finally got my hands on it, I finished it in five hours (9pm – 2am. I’m a night owl.). Only problem was, I actually downright missed an ENTIRE scene of the book, when Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange have it out, near the end. My Mom asked me what I thought about the scene, and I actually said “When did that happen?”

Now, enough about myself. I have several friends who take a while longer to read a book (some a few days, some a few weeks!) and I have come to the decision that if I read really less quickly then I do….I would most likely end up reading faster in frustration. As lovely as books are, and as much as I love them, I’m not sure if I could bear waiting, say, 21 days until I got to the end of any one book.

What brought this subject on? Speed, in general. If I can read quickly, I sure hope I can write quickly! I, as well as Alison (Lost In Believing), am doing the NaNoWriMo challenge. And I plan on winning. So, look out for bookstar in the forums because that’s me! And if you feel like making me an awesome cover, well, awe, you shouldn’t have!

Hahaha.

Just kidding, guys! I’m a guest here, and I don’t wanna over stay my welcome, so I hope you enjoyed this little piece of my ramblings. In the comments below, could you guys answer a question I have? How fast do YOU read??? Just curious. Thanks, and goodnight 😉

~Next in Show

So leave us a comment telling us how fast you read!