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A GOOD READ: Not all vampires & bleak futures in teen reads
Reading teen fiction isn’t just for teenagers anymore. Twilight and The Hunger Games were bestsellers and the explosion of great books means that there are lots more to choose from.
And it’s not all vampires and bleak futures. There’s something for everyone, from serious realistic fiction dealing with complicated issues to fast, fun romance. And, of course, there are still lots of dystopias, vampires, paranormal romance and zombies.
In Every Day by David Levithan, we meet A, waking up on a typical day in a very untypical life. Every morning, A wakes up in a new body and lives the life of the person for one day. The next morning, it starts all over again. A quickly figures out as much about the person as possible and just gets through the day before moving onto the next person. But one morning, A wakes up as Justin and meets Rhiannon, Justin’s girlfriend. They have a perfect day together, which makes A realize what’s been missing. But how can A spend time with Rhiannon if A wakes up as a different person each day? A’s search for love and a true sense of self is an engaging story that you won’t want to put down.
Carnegie award-winner Patrick Ness creates an original and exciting dystopia with the Chaos Walking series. In the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, we meet Todd, the last boy in Prentisstown, a settler town on the New World. During a war, a germ was released that killed all of the women in town. This same germ also brought the Noise. Now, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts all the time — there is no such thing as silence. Or, at least, this is what Todd has been taught. One day, Todd finds a small area of silence, where there is no Noise. This discovery sets off him off on a dangerous adventure during which he learns the real history of the New World and Prentisstown.
Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a brilliant novel that won the National Book Award. Junior, a 14-year-old living on the Spokane Indian reservation, has a hard time fitting in. After getting suspended, he decides to go to the high school in town, where everyone is white. In making this decision, he faces racism in his new school and anger from his community at what is perceived as his betrayal. Alexie’s novel, which contains great illustrations by Ellen Forney, exposes social injustice while telling both a funny and heartbreaking story.
Gene Luen Yang’s excellent, award-winning graphic novel, American Born Chinese, also tackles issues of racism and belonging in high school. Yang presents three narratives, telling the Monkey King legend, along with the stories of two boys, Jin and Danny, both trying to fit in and having girl trouble in American high schools. As the novel progresses, the narratives become intertwined and come together as the characters present their true selves.
For those of you who can’t get enough of dystopia, there are still more great titles to read. The Dust Lands trilogy by Moira Young and the Triskelia trilogy by Carrie Mac both create intriguing worlds. Watch out for Allegiant, being released in late October, the third book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. And check out Melanie Lu’s Legend series, with the latest book, Champion, coming out in November.
Come to the library to find these books and make sure to ask library staff for more suggestions for great reads.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Karen Sharkey works at Port Moody Pubic Library.