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(A Literary blog about the art of literature & beyond).

Posts tagged Young Adult

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The Curious Case of Two Will Grayson’s.

          

I read John Green for the first time about a year ago, the book was Looking for Alaska – the experience = amazing. I was only about thirty pages into the book and I had become a declared fan of John Green. For obvious reasons when his new book The Fault in Our Stars came out I didn’t hesitate for a single second to read it, and it turned out to be another great piece of young adult literature from his always creative and heart-twisting author.

When I decided I wanted to read something else by him, I had three books to choose from and ended up being pulled by the concept of Will Grayson, Will Grayson; it just seemed so different from everything else out there, and indeed it was quiet out of the box.

This time around John Green together with David Levithan tell us the story of two different teenagers both named Will Grayson. Will Grayson #1 is your average high school kid with what he thinks is a crush on a girl, without realizing he actually has deep feelings for her, also this Will’s best friend happens to be a huge gay guy setting up a Broadway-style musical about love. Will Grayson #2 is a bad-tempered, semi-depressed guy madly in love with a boy who has never met and only knows him by chatting with him online.

Both Will Grayson’s meet each other by a game of fate in an awkward moment in an awkward place. Since that instant their lives change in considerable ways, while comedy and tragedy clash.

Accepting who you are and coping with the many obstacles life throws you on the road stand as the fundamental themes of the book. The characters can become highly stereotypical in some dialogues and actions, but overall the authors manage to give them a voice of their own.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a witty ride filled with laughs and quirky situations to the second power, it goes on and on powered by scene after scene of comedic inventiveness or teenage melancholy, but it never lets you down.

Filed under John Green Will Grayson Will Grayson Young Adult lit Literature Books

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Magical Inception, Supernatural Romances & Dystopian Landscapes: The Ever Changing State of Mind of Y.A Literature.

It all started with the boy who lived - at least a in a contemporary kind of way. Young adult literature has been around for more than a century, it has traveled across the seas and been written by a number of history’s most quintessential writers; from Dickens bildungsromans Oliver Twist, David Copperfield & Great Expectations; Mark Twain American classics Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to J.D Salinger angst-driven The Catcher in the Rye and Golding’s tale of stranded kids turned into savages in Lord of the Flies, the genre had captivated readers for some time passed, although it wasn’t until the sixties with the publication of S.E Hilton The Outsiders, a novel about the rivalry between two teen subcultures that the term “Young Adult” officially originated.

New writers came along carrying with them new stories that resonated with their sought readers, bringing topics like sexuality, race, suicide, drugs and alcohol consumption, crime and bullying into the genre. The 70s and 80s became for many the golden age of young adult literature thanks to the expansion of the audience and experimentation with new themes that took place during those years. Some might disagree.

The epoch of Y.A literature had its beginning in the late nineties with a young British wizard by the name of Harry Potter. It appeared out of thin air and swept the globe with his otherworldly adventures, it went beyond becoming a literally phenomenon into creating a whole generation of new readers. Teens and tweens who had never finished a book before were suddenly staying awake until the deep hours of the night navigating Harry’s universe.

Due to the astounding success of J.K Rowling’s novels, suddenly bookstores and personal bookshelves were clad with books revolving about magic, mythological creatures and the like; Midnight for Charlie Bone, Artemis Fowl, Eragon and The Spook’s Apprentice were part of this literary wave. What these authors were creating was a subgenre of the Y.A family, a different kind of fantasy from that being written by Terry Patchett, Stephen King or George R.R. Martin. It wasn’t high fantasy, sword & sorcery, or magic realism, it was and it continues to be young adult fantasy.

No one thought there could be another literary jackpot in the vein of Harry Potter, until a stay-at-home mom from Phoenix, Arizona wrote a book about an ordinary girl whose prince charming happens to be a beguiling vampire; Twilight came out in 2005 and started the next revolutionary trend in young adult lit, consequently creating the subgenre called supernatural romance.

All the ingredients of the timeless teen love stories are found within the pages of these novels: the new girl, the solitude, the broken heart, friends, and family and falling in love, with the difference of the love aspect being taken by a paranormal being, whether a vampire, werewolf or angel.

Twilight paved the way for books like Fallen, Shiver, Torn and Beautiful Creatures in where the basic structure in which their plot stands is the archetype of “The Star Crossed Lovers” from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet with an added metaphysical element.

The latest and perhaps most controversial trend in the young adult realm belongs to the subgenre of dystopian fiction, in where the mayor representative is no other than Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

Together with The Hunger Games trilogy, books like Delirium, Divergent and Legend delve readers into the marrow of dystopian settings, fragmented societies and totalitarian governments; places where there’s no room for the weak.

With all their spells, undead lovers and futuristic weapons the essence of these young adult novels remains the same as of those released decades ago; they deal with the intricacies of growing up, the search of identity and finding your place in the world.  That’s the reason they resonate so much with their core audience - they see themselves in the characters, they identify with them, only in a more abstract context.

Behind the smoke & mirrors all there is are normal teenagers looking for acceptance from themselves and from others.

Young adult literature currently stands at a paramount position, not only racking up sells but also gaining wide acceptance among adults and literary circles. Thanks to the audacity of its writers and their disposition to creating daring new worlds and bold new characters, it continues being one of the most innovative genres out there.

 

Filed under Literature lit Books Young Adult Harry Potter The Hunger Games Twilight Fiction Essay

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Book Review: “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater.

An Island of Tradition, a Race of Fate.

November comes and the sea roars, riders mount their capaill uisce, and the Scorpio Races are in full force again in the far-flung island of Thisby.

Stiefvater borrows the Celtic myth of the capaill uisce better known as a water horse to create her own embellished story of two young protagonists, their horses and their lives at Thisby - and island at an unknown time, where a conservative society struggles with change in a place where folklore reigns supreme.

Sean Kendrick has won the Scorpio Races four out of six times. Kate “Puck” Connolly is set to be the first woman ever to compete at the races. He’s racing for freedom and the ownership of his beloved horse Corr. She’s racing to save her family from losing the home their parents left them, and keeping her older brother from leaving to the mainland. They are both orphans, their minds set in crossing the finish line before anyone else, and their courage as fierce as the sea’s most crashing waves.

"This island cares nothing for love but it favors the brave." Seans tells Puck - and they are indeed wise words.

The secondary characters enhance the novel adding life and depth into the story’s backbone. The description of the locales inspires images of picturesque towns of yore standing on a cliff in the Irish coast, while Stiefvater’s writing is as poetic as ever.

At the end of the day The Scorpio Races is a tale about a boy/girl and his/her horse, and how those close to you shape your life in inexplicable & unexpected ways.

Although the pace of the book can be slow at instances, it never quiets drags. And the author keeps your attention by alternating the chapters from Sean to Puck’s POV and vice-versa.

In many ways it stands by itself as a vastly different creature in the pantheon of young adult literature; never really managing to set its hooves in a specific category. So with all its perks and flaws, credit must be given to Maggie Stiefvater for creating a new breed of a novel.

Let the races begin.

4/5

Filed under Book Review Young Adult Maggie Stiefvater The Scorpio Races