Week 7: Teen Lit

For the last three months, I've been focusing on the OTHER training I needed to do as a newish employee of my present organization. But for the past two weeks, my training time has been devoted to reading about intellectual freedom, and my brain is telling me if I don't switch focus for just a little bit it's going to leak out my ears.

So. Young adult literature!

The Lawrence, Kansas Public Library has posted an awesome flowchart of dystopian works for readers who loved The Hunger Games. I've read some of the suggested works; I'd also recommend adding Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and City of Savages by Lee Kelly. (Ready Player One predates the flowchart; City of Savages is new this year.)

The training this week asks us to read two articles from a handful which mostly want to focus on the fact that many grown-ups are reading YA fiction. All the linked articles are from 2011-2012, which is very interesting to me - a freelance journalist wrote an article for Slate last year deeming adults who would read YA as somehow lesser, and ever since that article went live the articles that have come after it have had a note of defense to them. The articles from 2011-2012, in comparison, don't seem to want to ascribe a particular moral code to the value of the work.

The third assignment from this week involves reading two different YA resource websites for a week and sharing our thoughts. I have selected the websites Forever Young Adult and teenreads (both linked in the sidebar to the right). I chose the ones I did because I didn't want to pick a website hosted by a particular author, even if said author waxed poetical across the entire genre. They looked at first glance to be good overview resources.

Forever Young Adult is a website maintained by a group of adults who enjoy the YA genre, for other YA enthusiasts who are "more A than Y". Their site covers not just the YA genre in books, but YA across many different kinds of media (movies, television).

teenreads is a website which is one of a set of websites covering several writing genres maintained by The Book Report, inc. Their reviewers come from many different backgrounds in the book industry. As such, the website focuses specifically on YA books.

Assignment 4 asks us to choose two teen publishing imprints, view their websites and review trends in their offerings. I chose Tor Teen for my first, because some of my favorite authors write for Tor and I am a huge science fiction nerd, and Penguin Teen for my second, because one of their presses (Dial Books) published the 2015 Printz winner and Stonewall honor book "I'll Give You The Sun" by Jandy Nelson.

Interestingly, Starscape/Tor Teen doesn't seem to have a traditional web presence, or even a portion of the Tor website set aside. Tor Teen has a substantial presence on Facebook and tumblr, which makes sense for a publishing imprint targeting teens. Starscape's only real presence online, aside from having a dedicated tag on the Tor blog, comes with the Starscape/Tor Teen twitter account, @torkids. Parent company Macmillan has a dedicated teens website at http://www.macteenbooks.com/.

A handful of things I found interesting:

1. Whoever is maintaining the Tor Teen tumblr has definitely embraced tumblr; not only are they using it as a platform for putting out information on upcoming releases and giveaways at Goodreads, but they're also .. tumblring, for a better word. They're reblogging fanart using all kinds of media, tweets from celebrity readers, quotes and photos, cats and donuts.

2. There are a lot of works coming out of Penguin that feel like works that would normally be in Tor's wheelhouse - science fiction and fantasy. But I find myself somewhat unsurprised by this - as modern technology advances, it brings us developments that twenty or thirty years ago would have seemed like they sprung right from Star Trek, fully formed, but in this day and time seem only like the natural progression of design and tech and available and desirable to many, not just the geeks and the nerds.

3. Dystopian YA fic is still wildly popular. YAY!