What’s the Next Big Thing in Young Adult literature?

Since the Divergent and Hunger Games series have wrapped up their sagas, teens may be looking for the next big thing. There aren’t a lot of series getting much buzz right now and it seems like dystopian is dead. Vampires certainly are and zombies may be on their way out too. What does seem to be emerging is a trend are stories featuring characters with special abilities – maybe YA authors are cashing in on the popularity of superheroes?

Here are a few titles that I’ve recently read that I think could be the next big thing at the library, bookstores and eventually the box office.

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The Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow lives in a world that’s divided by blood – those who bleed red are the poor commoners, destined to a life of poverty. The silver bloods are the elites in society who also possess super-human powers and strengths.

After a series of unfortunate events and a chance encounter with a prince, Mare discovers she has special abilities of her own. In the wake of a Red rebellion, the royal family forces her to hide her true identity, claiming she’s of Silver lineage and betrothing her to their son. The rebels can’t be silenced though and Mare’s abilities play a crucial role in the impending revolution.

The Red Queen is a mix of The Hunger Games, X-Men and Game of Thrones. Sounds like a weird combination but it surprisingly works. While the book isn’t especially original and some of the plot twist are predictable, it’s still an entertaining and action packed story.

 

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancy

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Sixteen year old Cassie Sullivan is trying to survive on her own after a series of alien invasions, called waves, that have begun wiping the planet of human life. She’s already lost both parents and she last saw her little brother waving from the back of a school bus on his way to safety at a nearby military base…or so she thought.

The aliens know she’s out there though and they’ve sent a “Silencer”to track her down and kill her. What they didn’t plan on is a very real, very human connection that forms between Cassie and her would be assailant.

Part War of the Worlds and part Falling Skies, The 5th Wave is a high octane survival story that will appeal to both guys, gals and their parents. Cassie is the main protagonist, but the chapters alternate between her point of view and other main characters in the novel until all their stories meet at the end. The movie version didn’t do so well at the box office, but the book is a well written, engaging story that will leave teens eager for the next installment, The Infinite Sea.

 

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Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

Don’t let the cover fool you – this book is not a horror story! Instead, brace yourself for a time traveling adventure as Jacob Portman, who sets out to find out who his recently deceased grandfather really is, stumbles upon a portal that takes him back to Wales during WWII.

There he discovers the orphanage his grandfather grew up in, a bunch of mysterious children with super powers and a dangerous monster that’s out to kill them all.

Part one in a trilogy, Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fascinating story that uses photographs to enhance the plot and reader’s experience. Characters are extremely well developed and the story unlike any you will ever read. The books have been wildly popular for a few years now, but with the movie version set to hit theaters in August, expect a rush of new fans to the series.

 

John Green is Not For Me

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If the library world was a kingdom, disliking John Green would be equal to treason against the throne. At the moment, his books reign supreme in YA literature and when The Fault in Our Stars was released, realistic fiction made a triumphant return and dystopian was declared dead. Publishers are scrambling to find authors just like him & his endorsement alone can catapult a novel to stardom. (Eleanor and Park anyone?)   

Everyone is madly in love with him – everyone but me, it seems. I’ve tried, but  besides The Fault in Our Stars, I just can’t seem to connect with his stories. Our literary relationship got off to a rough start about two years ago when I tried to read An Abundance of Katherines. I had never read any of his books before & since they’re so wildly popular (not to mention we practically live in the same city), I decided to give them a shot. I really didn’t know where to start, and The Fault in Our Stars had a long holds list, so I went with An Abundance of Katherines because the synopsis sounded fun: road trips, comedy, love and friendship. It started off ok, then the footnotes began. I absolutely cannot stand footnotes in a fiction title. It breaks up the story, disrupts my connection with the characters and even when I try to ignore them, there they are – glaring at me from the bottom of the page, begging to be read. It was painful to read the whole book this way and made me shy away from trying another John Green title for a very long time.

Then I read The Fault in Our Stars and loved itMaybe it was the Indianapolis connection, but I could picture everything in my head, where it was taking place and really liked both of the main characters. It was emotional and I even had to finish the book at home so I wouldn’t return from my lunch break with tears streaming down my face. For a little over 300 pages, I was convinced this was the book to make me a rabid fan and I’d connect with the rest of his books on the same level. Sadly, I was wrong.

I tried Looking for Alaska next – it was the one everyone recommended that I read and it won a Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature in 2006. The beginning was fine, but by the middle of the book I was bored, disliked all the characters and just simply couldn’t relate to any of them. I eventually finished it and was extremely disappointed with the story after having high hopes that I’d love this one as much as TFIOS.

Recently, I finished Paper Towns. I didn’t love it either. Just like the others, it started off decent enough but after about 50 pages boredom set in and I found myself avoiding the book altogether. My library has picked it as the young adult selection for our community read this fall and no doubt it will be popular with the teens because it has John Green’s name on it, but unfortunately it just wasn’t for me.

I have yet to put my finger on exactly what it is about John Green that I don’t like. It’s not the writing – that’s definitely a strong characteristic of each of his books. Maybe it’s that my own adolescence was never anything like what his characters go through that makes the stories so unrelatable for me. Or maybe I’m outgrowing the YA genre and looking for stories that don’t involve teenagers trying to find themselves and where they fit in in the world.

Despite all this, I’m going to keep trying to read his books and still have Will Grayson, Will Grayson on my list. I’m told (yet again) that I will most definitely love that one. We’ll see.