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  • Brian Boone 8:30 pm on 2017/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: teen books, , , YA novels   

    50 of the Most Essential High School Stories 

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    High school is a near-universal experience to which we can all relate. It’s also a complicated, messy time in life in which one grows from the end of childhood to the cusp of adulthood, so there’s a lot of feelings to unpack. The result is that hundreds of books have been written about high school…but these are the 50 most essential, the ones who really get it right and have something to say.

    Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    Rainbow Rowell’s first YA novel is set in Omaha, Nebraska, in the mid-1980s, where neither really fit in: Eleanor is a misfit redhead, and Park is half-Korean. Their romance blossoms over the pop culture they love, specifically comic books and mix tapes. Rowell adroitly addresses the deep psychological baggage both have, never dismissing it as mere “teenage” drama.

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    So much of high school is about hanging out with friends: there’s a lot of time to kill, and maybe you don’t want to go home, so you just sort of drive around and do stuff. This is where Chbosky’s book shines—those quiet moments of sitting around and making profound connections with your friends. It’s about putting yourself out there, not to be popular, but to make just one or two friendships that will matter and last.

    Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Lewis
    This is a book about the deep love between a boy and a girl…and it’s not a romance. Greg wants only to stay completely neutral in high school, and avoid anyone getting mad at him; he just wants to make films with his best friend, Earl. He’s forced to address reality, emotions, and his own hidden humanity when a childhood friend develops cancer, and he becomes her official companion in her haunting final days.

    Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    It’s not the class discussions and classes about high school that socialize us, it’s the activities. Those clubs where kids are free to find their tribe, or tribes, and bounce around with little to no consequence or commitment? They’re where we find people like us at a time when we might feel awkward and alone. This is particularly true with drama club, a beacon to so many teens outside the mainstream who want to make art. Telgemeier’s graphic novel encapsulates all that, plus the nostalgic backstage feelings that bond kids and actors for life.

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling
    There are seven Harry Potter novels, of course, but this is the one packed with the most excruciatingly relatable teenage problems and growing pains. Harry, Ron, and Hermione start acting like moody adolescents and as they wade into the dating pool, and Harry and Ron realize for the first time that Hermione is a girl. And then there’s the Yule Ball. While Hermione goes with a Quidditch star, Harry and Ron can’t get the dates they want and end up sulking on the sidelines. It’s a whole new take on our favorite magical trio.

    The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
    Who knows teens better than a teen knows teens? Amazingly, S.E. Hinton was just 19 years old when she wrote this sad, violent, humanity-steeped story about the roughneck gang-like Greasers and the preppy, jerky Socs they have to deal with at school. It feels intense and realistic, like a more richly imaginedWest Side Story set against the rural backdrop of small-town Oklaoma.

    Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan
    John Green and David Levithan joined forces on this, the alternating stories of two boys named Will Grayson. Eventually their stories merge, following a wild night starring the two Wills and one’s best friend, Tiny, who stages a musical about his own life and is dating the other Will Grayson, a shy kid struggling with his sexuality.

    Carrie, by Stephen King
    Stephen King brilliantly takes those feelings of being unsure about the insane, random, rapid changes our bodies go through in adolescence, and renders them terrifying. Carrie is about a young woman discovering her own self, trying to put parental control aside, and dealing with weird body stuff. She’s doused with blood by the end, of course, and a body count ensues, but hey, that’s just a metaphor for adolescence.

    Ghost World, by Daniel Clowes
    Plenty of artistic projects have given us a view of high school from the outsider’s perspective—perhaps because writers are often outsiders, and you write what you know. But Daniel Clowes’ sad, quiet, darkly hilarious Ghost World, and its main character Enid Coleslaw, offer a special kind of otherness: a sophisticated alienation. Enid is far wiser, funnier, and brutally critical of the world around her than her peers, and the reader can tell she’s been withering on the vine trapped in high school. Then she graduates into a world in which she’s still alienated, but even more anonymous.

    Blankets, by Craig Thompson
    A lot of high school kids have a super-religious phase, as spirituality offers a lot of answers—or at least comfort—in a very tumultuous time. Craig Thompson’s beautiful, heartbreaking graphic novel is about a devoutly religious teen’s difficulties in balancing his spiritual life with a budding long-distance romance, and his ever-increasing spiritual doubts.

    DC Trip, by Sara Benincasa
    The big “educational” overnight trip to Philadelphia, Colonial Williamsburg, or Washington, D.C., is a watershed moment on the level of prom to millions of high school kids each year. It gives them a chance to cut loose and feel free and independent for the first time without parental supervision; because, let’s be honest, the chaperones are merely ceremonial. Or, as is demonstrated in Benincasa’s hilarious look at a class trip to D.C., the teachers along for the ride are too busy sowing their wild oats, too.

    Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
    A teenage girl keeps living the same day over and over—a seemingly typical day of high school drama and boredom, except that she dies at the end, and has to keep living the day over and over until she gets it “right,” from repairing familial relationships to making amends for the girl whose life she and her clique make miserable. It’s Groundhog Day with higher stakes, and, you know, terrifying.

    The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
    While some kids in his seemingly normal high school are after a very important object of great power called the “Immortal Crux,” Mikey just wants to graduate, get with the girl he likes, and deal with his family’s problems. This book explores how a supernatural YA book might read if retold from the perspective of some random Hufflepuff.

    The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
    The Pigman is among the first ever “young adult” novels, in that it’s literature both about and for those in between people called teenagers. Themes that would come to define YA are present in The Pigman, too: teens questioning the grownup world, their values and struggle to create their own identity without killing their hearts. The action of the book concerns two high schoolers, John and Lorraine, who take turns reporting their experiences with a misunderstood old man named Mr. Pignati.

    The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides
    Even more dreamy and sad than Sofia Coppola’s 2000 film adaptation, Eugenides’ first novel is brainy, beguiling, and mysterious. Set in tony Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in the 1970s, it’s the rare period piece that isn’t really about the period or at all nostalgic. It’s told from the point of view of several teenage boys trying to understand why their classmates, the five Lisbon sisters, all took their own lives.

    All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
    So many YA novels are about escape, because being a teenager is about escaping: escaping high school, escaping the hometown, escaping family, escaping problems. In All the Bright Places, even Violent and Theodore’s not-so-cute meet-cute involves escape: It happens in the school bell tower, where both are poised to commit suicide. Instead, an unlikely and profound friendship/romance develops out of a need for human connection, both with each other and the world at large.

    Boy Proof, by Cecil Castelluci
    Victoria loves science fiction, particularly a movie called Terminal Earth. She models her life after the film’s protagonist, Egg, to the degree that she adopts the name. She’s also the kind of girl who wears a homemade cloak to school and doesn’t care that she’s going to get teased for it. She’s doing her own thing, and she doesn’t want to do it any other way. So much so that when a new boy moves to town who actually likes and understands Egg and where she’s coming from…she just might crack.

    Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley
    Lies We Tell Ourselves is set in a just-segregated high school in 1959 Virginia, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. This remarkable, character-driven drama (and love story), set against a volatile historical backdrop, follows an African American honors student attending a previously all-white school, who’s assigned to work on a school project with the daughter of the town’s leading segregationist.

    Avalon High, by Meg Cabot
    Harry Potter inspired a whole mini-genre of books set in a high school for “special” kids: demigods, vampires, monsters. So whatever happened to good old-fashioned allegory? It’s alive and well in books like the Avalon High series. It’s set in a Maryland high school full of teen archetypes and stereotypes, except each character correlates to someone from the English legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

    The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, by Susin Nielsen
    The diary format works so well for high school stories because it feels immediate, intimate, and authentic. That approach is needed for the gut-punch of Henry K. Larsen. It’s so many different books: a kid-at-a-new-school book, a survivor book, an issues book. Henry is forced to move and go to a new school after his brother is so mercilessly teased that he unleashes his anger and pain with a school shooting.

    The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Being in high school is an almost constant conflict between seeking out the comfort of fitting in, and the difficulty of finding and being one’s true self. Robert Cormier’s classic novel is about that, but within the strict confines of a Catholic school. Jerry is a new student who refuses to fall in line with the school’s methods for keeping order, in which the entire student body is complicit. Jerry must exhibit bravery beyond his years to stand up to the mob.

    Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
    Sixteen-year-old Simon is a closeted gay teenager happily disappearing into the theater department…until he leaves his email account open on a school computer, and wisecracking classmate Martin discovers a romantic thread of emails between Simon and a boy known only as “Blue.” Martin blackmails Simon into helping him get closer to a girl he likes, and Simon contemplates what coming out might mean.

    Forever, by Judy Blume
    Queen Judy, mistress of the middle-grade novel, was not a one-trick pony. She wrote respectful, realistic literature for kids of almost every age. Forever is one of her classics, dealing with the sensitive, agonizing subjects of young love…and sex. Katherine meets Michael, falls in love, and embarks on a sexual relationship with him, in a story that evokes all the excitement and tenderness of a budding relationship.

    Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Green has a gift for writing about the teenage experience in incredibly relatable ways. Throughout his work, Green is most adept at describing the sparkling, tingly feelings of teenage crushes bordering on love. In this semi-autobiographical novel, a guy trades his regular life for one at boarding school. He finds the crackling existence he wanted, due in no small part to the enchanting but deeply troubled Alaska Young.

    Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
    There are so many great romantic comedy movie tropes here, scaled down into high-school life. A high school senior named Anna is about to make things official with a nice guy, until she’s sent to boarding school in Paris. Things in Paris are, of course, marvelous, and she meets a delightful French boy named Etienne—only he’s taken. That’s just one of the many romantic entanglements in this fun and frothy take on high school heart-stuff.

    Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
    High school life isn’t that much different for British kids, unless you count the grade names. Georgia leads a proudly messy life, as she and her best friend Jas spy on boys they like and try to compete with older, more provocative girls for attention and affection. A charming novel that captures the intensity of high school–era relationships, from those indelible best friend connections to “true love.”

    Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan
    Levithan’s novel is about a time much like our own, only more progressive in terms of issues of sexual identity. It’s set in a small New Jersey town where homosexual, bisexual, and transgender teens have been completely normalized.  This is the setup for a sweet, romantic connection between Paul, a high-school sophomore, and Noah, the handsome, green-eyed new kid in town who’s a little reluctant to fall in love since he last got burned.

    Hey Nostradamus!, by Douglas Coupland
    With modern classics like Generation X and Girlfriend in a Coma, Coupland has given voice to the disaffected and those going through the motions of a hollow modern existence. In Hey, Nostradamus, he writes about high school students who feel the same way, and the desperate measures they take to change things. The story is told in tandem by four disparate characters, including a secretly pregnant and married girl, on what will ultimately be the most tragic day of all of their lives.

    Carry the Sky, by Kate Gray
    A book about high school doesn’t have to be about the kids, you know. There are lots of teachers working in those classrooms, and to hear stories from their points of view is fascinating. Carry the Sky is about a fancy boarding school in 1983 Delaware, where physics teacher Jack and rowing coach Taylor work. The teachers are linked by personal tragedies, but must overcome or put their overwhelming grief to the side in order to help their ill-equipped students deal with the terrible things happening in their lives.

    Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    What is it about boarding schools that make them so interesting to those of us who didn’t attend them? Is it simply that they seem an exotic walled world, or are they a merely an esteemed-if-classist relic of the past somehow surviving into today? Set at an elite East Coast prep school, Prep follows Lee, a Midwestern scholarship student and audience surrogate who must navigate the intricate politics and social system of the old school and its old money, all the while pulling further and further away from her parents.

    Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
    Pessl’s debut is presented like a syllabus, each chapter title alluding to a classic work. The plot: deadpan genius Blue van Meer, the perennial new kid in town owing to her father’s peripatetic ways, has all the advanced knowledge and study skills necessary to succeed at a prestigious private school, but lacks the pro-level social skills necessary to launch herself socially. But when she catches the eye of a charismatic, beautiful teacher—one we learn, in the book’s earliest pages, will not survive—her life radically changes.

    Moonhead and the Music Machine, by Andrew Rae
    In this graphic novel‚ Joey Moonhead has an actual moon for a head; when he loses interest or attention, it floats away. As can be expected, Joey Moonhead is heavily teased, but he at least wins a friend in Ghost Boy, so named because he’s “invisible” at school, concealed under a white, ghostlike sheet. And if all goes well, Joey just might rock the talent show and win the school over by playing an awesome instrument of his own invention.

    Acceptance, by Susan Coll
    High school isn’t all cliques, romantic drama, and finding one’s true identity—it’s also about the stress and anticipation of what comes next. Acceptance is an amusing look at those high school kids who are already overachieving and burning out before they’ve even left home. Focusing on three juniors and their college admissions counselor, the book follows their trudge through SAT prep courses, AP classes, AP exams, college essay writing…

    What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen
    Mclean Sweet is a teenager who wants to be somebody new, so she creates a new identity every time she has to move to a new town for her father’s work. As many do in high school, she has tried on a few different personas and goes all in each time, be her new style goth, peppy preppy, or student government go-getter. What Happened to Goodbye finds her moving to yet another new place and testing out her most risky personality choice yet: her real one.

    Firecracker, by David Iserson
    In this very funny novel by Iserson, a writer for New Girl and Saturday Night Live, entitled rich girl Astrid is a little too smart and conniving for her own good. She gets kicked out of school after being betrayed by somebody, and she’s determined to find out who did it, even with the newfound distractions of public school and a potential love interest.

    A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
    Knowles semi-fictionalized his experiences attending Exeter to create this classic, tragic coming-of-age tale about boys in a Northeastern boarding school during World War II. Narrator Gene is roommates with his good-hearted but ill-fated friend, Finny, of whom he is also supremely jealous. They take part in a tree-jumping club, which leads to Finny breaking his leg. Bad things continue to happen to Finny, for which Gene feels both guilt and, for the first time in his life, the emptiness of loss. Readers will grow up a little alongside Gene.

    Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
    As a direct challenge to and comment on his school’s elite sports program, varsity jacket–coveting T.J. Jones puts together his own ragtag, super-inclusive swim team. Never mind that only one of them can even swim very well, and that they don’t actually have a swimming pool at their school. Like the characters themselves, Whale Talk has a lot of heart.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit, Jr., lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state. He’s witty and a gifted artist, but suffers from a stutter, a lisp, and, subsequently, a good deal of bullying, both physical and verbal. He decides to break out of his life as a target by using his smarts to gain entrance to a predominantly wealthy, white school off the reservation, which changes his life in more ways than anticipated.

    Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
    At a high school party the summer before her freshman year, Melinda is raped, calls the police, but runs away before telling them—or the other kids—why she made the call. From that point forth, Melinda is an outcast, a victim of the shocking cruelty her classmates are capable of. This book is a demonstration of how even high school politics can override decency and justice.

    Every Day, by David Levithan
    Each morning, a conscious being known only as A wakes up in a new body, and must live the life of whoever’s body it is. A abides by a policy of doing no harm, until they wake up in the body of a teenager named Justin, and instantly fall in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. A keeps switching bodies, of course, and plotting how they can somehow find themselves together with Rhiannon again. It’s a wildly imaginative, experimental novel about the transcendent power of love.

    Election, by Tom Perrotta
    This cutting satire of high-school archetypes, stereotypes, and politics centers on a student-body election. Running for office are Tracy Flick, driven overachiever, and Paul Warren, popular football hero persuaded by a teacher to run simply to stop Tracy Flick. Messing things up for everybody is Tammy, Paul’s rebellious, outspoken sister, who decides to run, too. Perrotta clearly cribbed from the zaniness of the 1992 Clinton-Bush-Perot presidential election.

    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
    This book has been presented and marketed as a romantic coming-of-age comic novel, but it’s actually a horror novel. It’s about a girl overcome by undying, all-encompassing crushes that feel like love. Lara Jean Song processes these feelings by writing long, intricate, intimate love letters to the objects of her affection, keeping them in a hatbox instead of sending them. So what’s so bad about that? Somebody takes the letters and mails them, leaving her to deal with the fallout.

    Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
    Everyone remembers the “weird kid” in high school (or maybe they were the weird kid), the one who didn’t care about fitting in, like everyone else seemed to. What makes them so special, anyway? Are they faking it? Not Stargirl, as she chooses to call herself, at least for awhile. She’s a charming eccentric who’s already got it all figured out, and she likes the quirky clothes she wears, playing the ukulele for strangers, and carting around a pet rat. It’s when she starts worrying about what other people think that the trouble begins.

    Literally, by Lucy Keating
    Literally is a meta, mind-bending book about a practically-perfect-in-every-way girl named Annabelle whose life gets a little confusing when she finds out acclaimed YA author Lucy Keating—as in the author of Literally, the book we’re talking about right now—is writing a book centered on Annabelle. It would seem everything Annabelle knows about her life is wrong, as she’s merely the creation of an author, and may not quite have the free will she thinks she does in this novel that’s stranger than fiction.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    The Hate U Give is both a literal look at the tough issues some teens face at an age when they should be sheltered from life and death concerns, and an exploration of being torn between powerful and opposite forces. Starr is 16 and lives in a rough neighborhood, but attends a private, predominantly white school far, far away in the suburbs. Her standing in both worlds is threatened after she witnesses a police officer shoot her childhood friend.

    Lock & Key, by Sarah Dessen
    Ruby feels awkward and out of place, but she has a right: she’s a fish-out-of-water several times over. After being abandoned by her mother, she’s sent to live with the rich sister she barely knows, and to navigate a new world. She must learn the fine art of self-reliance while also accepting help when it’s needed.

    Dare Me, by Megan Abbott
    Here’s a book that’s sympathetic to the cheerleaders and mean girls. Dare Me both humanizes and subverts the typical way cheerleaders are written in teen stories, in which they’re almost always the villains, ruling the school with fear and bullying. That seems to have worked just fine for varsity cheerleaders Addy and Beth in the past, until a new coach divides, conquers, and unites them again, even as the police get involved in some very bad, bad things.

    Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    A high school boy named Clay comes home one day to find a package on his porch filled his cassettes made by a girl named Hannah—an acquaintance and former crush object who recently took her own life. The tapes detail exactly how Hannah arrived at the decision to commit suicide. Clay comes to understand a girl he knew only on a superficial level much more deeply, albeit far too late.

    Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Tyler was average in every way, and he was fine with it. Until he does something not-so-average: graffitis the school, gets busted, and has to spend the summer doing physical labor to pay his debt. By the fall, he’s buff and earning attention from girls for the first time. But, while Tyler seems to be becoming a man, he may not be quite ready.

    Slave Day, by Rob Thomas
    Before bringing series like Veronica Mars and iZombie to television, Thomas was a YA author. Slave Day is set in Texas’s Robert E. Lee High school, and centers on a very loaded school activity in which students and faculty auction themselves off as “slaves” to raise money for a dance. Things threaten to come to a head between those who are angered by the practice and those who insist it’s good clean fun.

    The post 50 of the Most Essential High School Stories appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:05 pm on 2017/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: , andrew lane, , , , YA novels   

    Taking the Back Road to Writing: An Interview with Andrew Lane 

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    Yesterday Andrew Lane’s Day of Ice hit the shelves, a a fast-paced follow-up to Dawn of Spies. The series is an update on Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe that finds the titular hero reimagined as a 17-year-old, recently escaped from the island he was marooned on. He’s recruited by undercover London spy organization Segment W, and is soon ascending the undercover ranks alongside a genderbent Friday. When Friday spies her dastardly father, who once made an attempt on her life, walking through the city, she and Crusoe set off to uncover his part in the nefarious workings of a secret society.

    The book was written in partnership with Adaptive Studios, which develops books based on unproduced screenplays—which they in turn hope to see adapted into films. Here’s author Lane to discuss writing, revising, and his working relationship with Adaptive Studios.

    What’s your writing background?

    I’d always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a small child. I used to tell my brother stories to get him off to sleep at night, and I used to make up stories continuing on films that I’d seen on TV. Later I wrote a whole load of fan stories based on the British TV series Doctor Who for various fanzines. At the time, in British further education, I couldn’t do a graduate degree in creative writing, so I did physics instead (odd choice, I know, but…). After university I got a full-time job working as a scientist for the British Ministry of Defence, but when Virgin Books in the UK got the license to do original Doctor Who novels I jumped at the chance. Virgin liked what I submitted, and so I started working with them. I then used that opportunity to broaden my writing career into other areas, and three years ago I went freelance as a full-time writer. It’s a pretty unique way of getting into writing, and I wouldn’t recommend that anybody tries to replicate it…

    How did your relationship with Adaptive begin?

    Very simply, Adaptive read my Young Sherlock Holmes novels and decided I would be ideal for writing the Crusoe series, which they already had in mind. I think it was because of my experience in writing historical thrillers for the YA market, and not my winning personality. They approached me through my agent, I did a little bit of work for free, generating some ideas they liked based on their original proposal, and we came to an agreement about me writing a trilogy for them.

    What’s your process like, and how long did it take you to write the manuscript?

    I tend to start work late in the afternoon (I’m an evening person) and write in one-hour bursts, with a break for a cup of tea and some Facebook time in between. I stop sometime before midnight and then catch up on any TV or DVDs that are on my list to watch. Doing that, the whole book took about four months to write.

    What did you read or watch to get inspired to take on this project?

    I did a lot of research on the actual facts. I downloaded a lot of stuff Daniel Defoe had written onto my ereader, then bought various books from my local bookshops on what life was like in the court of King Charles II, what people ate and the way they lived in the late 1600s, what ships were like and, specifically, what coffee houses were like in that period, as that’s where people got together and discussed things.

    What was your familiarity with Robinson Crusoe before you took on the project?

    Tragically, and rather embarrassingly, I’d never read the Defoe original (having looked at it now, it and its sequels are rather stodgy). My main familiarity with the story was a European TV series that was shown, dubbed, on UK TV back in the late 1960s. It had the most haunting theme tune—I can still remember it now.

    Books published by Adaptive will ultimately be turned into TV series or movies. Did that affect the way you approached the project?

    I tried not to let it affect me—I just wanted to tell a really good, thrilling story with interesting characters. Having said that, I did try not to put in stuff that couldn’t be filmed. Of course, these days almost anything can be filmed, using computer graphics.

    What was the revision process like?

    Very simple. I try my best to deliver a manuscript that needs as little revision as possible—it’s polite, if nothing else—and I think the majority of Adaptive’s editorial comments were to do with the potential film or TV version: making sure the narrative line was clear, the characters had an obvious arc, and so on. Oh, and there was the standard “taking it out of the British passive voice and replacing it with American active voice,” so, saying “Crusoe entered the room just as the chair exploded” rather than “Crusoe was entering the room when the chair exploded.” That’s an example I’ve just invented, by the way. There are no exploding chairs in the books. Not yet, anyway…

    How did writing for Adaptive differ from working on your other novels or projects?

    Honestly, it was exactly the same. There’s some initial group discussion on things like characters, locations, and themes, then I go away for a while and work alone, then there are some more group discussions on how close I got to the bullseye. Probably more phone conferences and fewer long emails, but the principle was the same.

    If you had to write a logline for your life thus far, how would it go?

    “He thought his life was going to be simple and straightforward. He was wrong.”

    Day of Ice and Dawn of Spies are on sale now.

    The post Taking the Back Road to Writing: An Interview with Andrew Lane appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:30 pm on 2016/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , YA novels   

    5 YA Books for Westworld Fans 

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    After the events of last night’s Westworld finale on HBO (no spoilers here), you may be looking for a great book to fill the futuristic, “robots in the Wild West nightmare waiting to happen” hole in your heart. We’ve got your to-read list right here: Lifelike robots, emotional confusion, viewers getting dragged into intense storylines, the Wild West, and scary theme parks feature heavily in these five YA novels. Welcome to the park!

    Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
    Scarlett is the dutiful sister, Tella the impetuous, headstrong one. So when they receive an invitation from the mysterious Master Legend to attend Caraval—a magical event that lasts days, in which players enter an immersive game they may never leave—it’s Tella who hatches a plan to sneak away from their terrifying father. What neither sister bargains on is Tella getting kidnapped and being made the prize in the game. Just like in Westworld, nothing here is what it seems, and once players get drawn into the Caraval storyline, the danger is real, and anything can happen. Loaded with atmosphere, secrets, and scares, this is a magical, entrancing tale.  (It’s not out till next month, but get your pre-order on today!)

    Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
    You want androids? We got ’em. In this retelling of Cinderella, our heroine is now called Cinder, and she’s a cyborg in New Beijing, a bustling, lawless city crowded with humans and androids living side by side. The world is ravaged by plague, and even Cinder’s adopted family is threatened. When Prince Kai shows up in Cinder’s workshop to get an android repaired, he’s instantly attracted to the not-quite-human Cinder. However, the evil mind-controlling Lunar Queen has other ideas, and she drops in from the moon in order to marry Kai…which kind of leaves Cinder in the middle of an intergalactic war. A little awkward. Full of Cinderella references that have been cleverly translated into a sassy, scrappy sci-fi future.

    Girl Parts, by John Cusick
    David is plugged in. He’s always online, and has friends everywhere. Charlie, not so much. However, David is clinically “disassociated,” and to help him learn how to connect, his parents buy him the newest Companion Bot, a redhead called Rose. David has some ideas about how he’d like to connect, but unlike in Westworld, this robot has strict intimacy protocols (and no “girl parts”), and shocks him whenever he’s being inappropriate. Useful trick. Rose gradually begins to understand what she is, and develops more emotional responses. Which is when she runs away, and runs into Charlie. The story focuses on Rose as she becomes more than a machine, but we also get two very vivid portraits of lonely teenagers struggling to relate to a world they don’t understand in David and Charlie. Friendship, love, and loss mix in this unique sci-fi fable.

    Revenge and The Wild, by Michelle Modesto
    Set in a futuristic Wild West (sound familiar?), Revenge and the Wild follows Westie, a girl with a mechanical arm seeking revenge on the cannibals who took her limb—and her family—seven years ago. She lives in the out-of-control Rogue City, full of magic and darkness. The Wintu people use magic to protect Rogue City from the beasts that roam outside, but their magic is failing, and Westie thinks her family’s killers may have just arrived in town. Westie is determined to get her revenge at all costs, but her adopted family has other ideas. This is a thrilling, dark, and magical adventure that would be a great storyline in the Westworld theme park.

    Full Tilt, by Neal Schusterman
    Brothers Blake (responsible) and Quinn (reckless) get stuck in a scary phantom carnival/amusement park that has a habit of trapping people forever. Not ideal, and it’s all Quinn’s fault. Who goes into a haunted amusement park?! Blake has to go after him to make sure he’s okay…which is when things go horribly wrong. (Seriously, thanks, Quinn.) The demonic Cassandra appears and breaks the news:  Blake has to complete seven supernatural rides (aka, terrifying tasks that are horrendously difficult and challenging on, like, a personal level) before sunrise, or he’ll never be able to leave the park again. It’s the theme park from hell, forcing Blake to face his deepest fears and traumas. Horror, fantasy, and depth of character drive this story to its intense showdown.

    The post 5 YA Books for Westworld Fans appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 3:00 pm on 2016/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: the best of 2016, , YA novels   

    The Top Teen Books of 2016 

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    Lady Midnight, by Cassandra Clare
    Clare kicks off her hotly anticipated new Dark Artifices series, set in the world of the Mortal Instruments, with Lady Midnight, centering on the Los Angeles Shadowhunters and bringing in characters old and new. Bound Nephilim warriors Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, grieving the tragedies of their pasts, must navigate both new supernatural challenges and old grudges in a deadly, alluring world readers are itching to return to.

    The Last Star, by Rick Yancey
    This month, Yancey’s bestselling Fifth Wave trilogy concludes with The Last Star. At the start of book one, The 5th Wave, four waves of alien attack—from pestilence to mind control—have left over 90 percent of humans dead. Orphaned survivor Cassie, separated from her brother while waiting for the fifth wave, sets out on a deadly trek to retrieve him. In follow-up The Infinite Sea, she joins forces with a hardened group of fellow survivors, including mysterious, deadly marksman Ringer. In The Last Star, the remnants of Earth’s population have a choice, between holding onto their humanity and doing whatever it takes to survive.

    The Crown (The Selection series #5), by Kiera Cass
    Across four books and two storylines, Cass has created the world of the Selection, in which American Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, married, and had daughter Eadlyn, the first princess to choose her husband in a Selection of her own. Eadlyn’s story began in last year’s The Heir, and concludes with fifth and final book The Crown, in which Eadlyn must select her husband from among the remaining contendors—a choice that becomes more difficult than she could have imagined.

    Glass Sword, by Victoria Aveyard
    In Red Queen, 17-year-old Mare Barrow’s red blood made her a member of the powerless peasant class, in a world where the silver-blooded have both position and supernatural powers—until she’s revealed to have immense abilities of her own, despite the red in her veins. Aveyard’s sequel picks up right where its predecessor left off: reeling from a brutal betrayal and covered in the blood of battle, Mare Barrow sets out to recruit an army of her own, to fight back against her people’s Silver oppressors.

    This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp (January 5)
    The world can change in a minute. Nijkamp’s taut debut covers 54 of them, from just before a school shooting begins to its harrowing aftermath. Narration is shared among four students, both in and outside of the auditorium where the shooting occurs, all of whom have some link to the shooter. The cast is diverse, and their lives realistically tangled, in a story that combines almost painful tension with flashbacks that ground the sadly topical drama in an attempt at answering the question everyone asks: Why?

    United as One (Lorien Legacies #7), by Pittacus Lore
    The Lorien Legacies series kicked off with I Am Number Four, and concludes with United as One. Only the Garde, earth’s alien protectors, stand between humanity and the invasion of the evil Mogadorians. As earth stands by, bracing for impact, the Garde join forces first with the U.S. military—and then, in a shocking twist, with teens from all over the world, who are suddenly developing supernatural gifts of their own. Don’t miss the final chapter of this alien adventure series.

    A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas
    In 2015 series starter A Court of Thorns and Roses, a huntress trying to feed her starving family becomes key to saving the faerie realm of Prythian. After Feyre kills a wolflike beast in the woods bordering Prythian and the human world, a frightening fae comes to collect: her life for the life she took. But living with gorgeous faerie lord Tamlin isn’t the doom she thought it would be—nor is Prythian as settled as she once believed. In follow-up A Court of Mist and Fury, Feyre is more powerful than ever, but has sacrificed much to return to the Spring Court. The dark deal she made with the Night Court still hangs over her head, and the safety of herself, her love, and her two-realm world are far from secure.

    Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys
    In Sepetys’s hands, a footnote of World War II history—the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the biggest and perhaps most undersung naval tragedy in history—becomes a moving tapestry of lives and voices, of four people whose fates will converge onboard the doomed ship. Joana is a nurse and Lithuanian refugee attempting to outrun horrible guilt. Florian is a German art restorer with a secret, bent on avenging one small corner of the Nazis’ atrocities. Emilia is an orphaned Polish teen who carries her worst memory on her body, and who sees Florian’s heroic qualities even if he doesn’t. And Alfred is a Nazi sailor whose moral disease runs deeper than his uniform. After a headlong race across the frozen East Prussian landscape in the twilight days of the war, the three refugees believe passage on the Gustloff means salvation. But the worst is yet to come, and some scars never fade. Sepetys finds moments of grace, humanity, and sacrifice amid tragedy, while never eliding the costs of war or the brutal truths of the survival instinct.

    Stars Above, by Marissa Meyer
    Meyer’s best-selling Lunar Chronicles ended last year with Winter, but fans can get their steampunk fairytale fix with this collection of stories from the series’ vast world. Its nine tales, including five previously unpublished, explore the origins, transformations, and becoming of beloved characters including Cinder and Winter. And a bonus for readers who can’t wait to see what Meyer does next: the collection includes an excerpt of forthcoming Wonderland-set tale Heartless.

    Calamity (Reckoners series #3), by Brandon Sanderson
    When David was six, the Epics were born, people granted superpowers following a mysterious celestial event. When he was eight, and Epic named Steelheart killed his father. In the third installment of the Reckoners series, set in a world in which ordinary people cower before the unpoliceable Epics, David has lost a superpowered friend to the dark side…but is willing to do whatever it takes to bring him back.

    The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
    Yoon’s stupendous sophomore novel takes some of the themes she introduced in her best-selling debut Everything, Everything—the power of human connection, love’s ability to both save and destroy—and expands on them to tell the fast-burning, possibly doomed love story of Daniel, a dreamy Korean American teen on his way to an alumni interview, and Natasha, a girl on a last-minute mission to save her family from deportation to Jamaica. The two meet in a record store and have an epic stop-and-go romance all stuffed into a single day that might be Natasha’s last in New York. Told in alternating narration, the book also makes room for a whole chorus of other voices and perspectives, transforming it into a big compassionate tapestry of New York City, life, and everything. It’s an absolute knockout.

    The post The Top Teen Books of 2016 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 4:00 pm on 2016/11/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , YA novels   

    Bestselling Books for Teens 

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    An impossible first love story between a curious boy and a girl allergic to the world. An origin story for the murderous Queen of Hearts. A hilarious peek into the offscreen lives of two onscreen superstars. These 10 books have been reader tested and reader approved, and deserve a spot on the shelf of any fan of teen lit. This holiday season, give your favorite reader the gift of distant worlds, long-shot love, and wonderful retold tales.

    Tales of the Peculiar, by Ransom Riggs
    Riggs’ story collection, styled as foundational lore for the world of the “peculiars” introduced in his Miss Peregrine trilogy, is full of stories that are genuinely eerie and surprising, and occasionally grotesque. He invents a fork-tongued princess whose happily ever after might not involve a prince; a girl who can see ghosts and who, in fact, has trouble befriending anyone who isn’t spectral; and, in perhaps the most memorable tale, a group of prosperous cannibals who find an appropriately horrifying solution to their food-supply issues. The stories are fairytalish in tone, with touches of sly humor and a modern sensibility that makes the collection a blast to read.

    Dan and Phil Go Outside, by Dan Howell and Phil Lester
    In their second book after New York Times bestseller The Amazing Book Is Not on Fire, YouTube Sensations Dan and Phil venture into previously unknown territory: the real world. Through hundreds of revealing annonated photos from their worldwide tour, they tell another chapter of the story behind their massive self-made fame.

    Jack & Jack: You Don’t Know Jacks, by Jack Gilinsky and Jack Johnson
    Social media and recording stars (and BFFs) Jack and Jack bring their whirlwind energy and delightful silly worldview to this insider’s take on their rise from regular teens to international superstars, and all the hilarious Vines, wild tales, and live performances along the way. Their first book, it includes photos illuminating the lives of the boys behind the screens.

    A Torch Against the Night, by Sabaa Tahir
    Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes is a lush, bloody fantasy set in the fully fledged world of the Martial Empire, narrated in turns by Laia, a Scholar girl whose people were brutally vanquished by the Martial Empire, and Elias, an aspirant in the series of deadly Trials that will determine the empire’s next leader. They cross paths when Laia is embedded as a spy, masquerading as a slave, at Elias’s military school, in a mission that may amount to suicide. In A Torch Against the Night, they’re united and on the run, fighting their way toward Laia’s incarcerated brother and away from Elias’s inhuman commandant mother. Back in the brutal city, Marcus’s former best friend, Helene, is bound to serve a dangerously sociopathic new emperor, a task she might not survive.

    What Light, by Jay Asher
    Growing up on a Christmas tree farm means Sierra splits her life between Oregon and California, where her family travels each holiday season to sell their trees. When she falls for California kid Caleb, it’s against her father’s dating rules. And when Caleb’s dark secret gets out—about a mistake he made years ago, and can’t outrun—their love story is at threat of being cut short.

    Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
    Yoon’s debut has a huge heart and vast emotional landscape, despite spending most of its pages within the walls of one house. There, 17-year-old Madeline lives with her mother behind air-tight doors, in sterilized air. She has a rare and deadly condition known as “bubble baby disease,” which essentially means she’s allergic to the world. But she’s not immune to longing for what she sees through the windows: seasons she’s cut off from, friends she can’t make…and the boy next door, with whom she begins a slow-blooming romance via instant message. But she quickly realizes there’s no such thing as “enough” when it comes to beginning to really live, and soon she’s taking risks that could prove fatal—or could expand her world beyond what she imagined possible.

    Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman
    Four beloved YA authors take on the journey of Simon Lewis from novice to Shadowhunter in this collection of short stories, now in print for the first time—with the addition of 10 bonus illustrations. By the end of City of Heavenly Fire, one-time vampire Simon was scrubbed of his memories; in Tales he has found a new identity and purpose in training to take out demons. Stars of Clare’s beloved world, including Magnus Bane and Tessa Gray, make appearances throughout this collection fans will race through.

    Heartless, by Marissa Meyer
    Meet the Queen of Hearts before her ascension to legendary villainy in Meyer’s newest retelling, which opens on super-eligible royal Catherine doing what she does best: baking. Following her heart would mean open opening a bakery with her bestie, but her parents forbid her to duck her royal responsibilities. Then she meets Jest, a court jester she falls for hard, and all bets are off. Though Cath is determined to be with the one she loves, she can’t predict how the dark and sometimes monstrous magic of Wonderland may change her path.

    The Fever Code, by James Dashner
    Picking up where The Kill Order—his original prequel to The Maze Runner series—left off, The Fever Code promises to let us know just how Thomas and WICKED built the maze. No bigs. Just the KEY TO THE WHOLE FREAKING SERIES. Like, how did the gladers get chosen? Who do Thomas and Teresa really work for? And who are group B, anyway? There will be secrets. There will be lies. There will be betrayals. And—spoiler—there will be a maze. A must-read for fans of the series, and a spoilery place to start if you haven’t read any of the ot

    The Midnight Star, by Marie Lu
    In The Young Elites Lu introduced a dangerous monarchic world in the years after a blood fever swept its population. Adelina Amouteru survived the fever, but it left her with an eerily altered appearance and abilities beyond her understanding. She’s rescued from her cruel father by similarly gifted survivors the Young Elites, who are vulnerable to two warring sects: the king’s Inquisition Axis, which wants to see the Young Elites dead, and the Dagger Society, which claims to want to protect them. In book two, The Rose Society, Adelina, now known as the terrifying White Wolf, is on the run with her sister, hoping to build up a force to strike back against the Inquisition Axis. In finale The Midnight Star, Adelina fights to hold onto all that she’s gained, even if it means taking on unlikely allies.

    The post Bestselling Books for Teens appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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