Teen books like 'Divergent' and 'Yaqui Delgado' hold appeal for adults

newsroom@islandpacket.comMarch 22, 2014 

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If you pay attention to book and movie trends right now, you'll know that teen fiction is having a moment. Audiences can't get enough of mammoth best-sellers like "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight," and the wildly popular "Divergent" series is making a huge splash on the big screen.

What makes this popularity even more remarkable is that adults are often just as excited for these stories as the intended teen audience. Adults are finding out that some of the best writing and most innovative plots are coming from the world of young adult literature. While everyone knows the huge best-sellers as household names, there are many other recently published teen books that are worth reading.

If you are a fan of the bleak world of "The Hunger Games" and the vampire lore of "Twilight," Holly Black's "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" may be right up your alley. In Tana's world, decadent quarantined cities called Coldtowns keep vampires safely separated from the humans on the outside. But Tana is determined to get in to save her friends, even knowing that once you enter Coldtown, you can never leave. Black's novel is notable for taking vampires from the current sparkly-skinned, romantic version, and putting them back in the realm of monsters.

Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy reading "Dodger," by Terry Pratchett. Raised in the gutters of Victorian London, Dodger uses his street smarts to save a beautiful young woman from her captors. Thanks to this heroic act, he becomes linked to the most powerful and famous people of the day, including Charles Dickens. Pratchett's legions of fans won't be disappointed by his playful writing.

If you like your historical fiction laced with fantasy, consider "The Diviners," by Libba Bray. It's 1926, and Evie O'Neil has been sent to New York City to live with her uncle Will, after embarrassing her family with her bad behavior. Evie is thrilled to discover the speakeasies and Ziegfeld shows of the big city, but she is less excited to help out in Will's occult museum. Evie is keeping a secret about why she was sent away from her small town, and she understands the occult more than she cares to admit. Full of wonderful Roaring Twenties details and slang, this first book in a new series is both funny and spine-chilling.

Realistic, contemporary stories are some of the best coming out of young adult literature right now. Rainbow Rowell's "Eleanor & Park" was recently awarded a Printz Honor as one of the best teen novels of 2013. This touching story of two high school misfits is set in the mid-1980s, but it will speak to readers of every age who remember how consumed and devastated they felt as they fell in love for the first time. In "Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass," Meg Medina explores the hot issue of bullying in high schools. Piddy Sanchez has recently transferred to a new school in Queens and is immediately targeted by the school bully, a girl she's never met. As Piddy already struggles with missing her friends and a difficult relationship with her mother, she shrinks under the constant threat of Yaqui Delgado. Adult readers will find much to consider on how bullying has changed since they were in high school, and Piddy is an inspirational, sympathetic heroine that readers will root for.

If you haven't yet jumped into the world of young adult literature, you're missing out on some great books. There are countless more authors to recommend, so visit your local Beaufort County library to learn about more amazing teen fiction. Ann Cox is a reference librarian with the Beaufort County Library System.

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