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What makes the perfect protagonist? Is it someone who is such a good person that you wish they were your best friend? Nope. Is it someone who is so beautiful that you can daydream about them while turning every page? Wrong again! According to Jennifer Jenkins, author of NAMELESS --- a new young adult novel that follows a girl named Zo who infiltrates an enemy clan to help her people --- it’s about making characters feel human, or, in other words, flawed. See her reasoning below, and decide whether or not you agree!
When Clay finds a package of cassette tapes on his doorstep in Jay Asher’s debut novel THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, he never imagines they’re from Hannah, his late classmate who recently committed suicide. As Clay listens to Hannah outline the 13 people and events that led to her death, you feel the pain, enlightenment, shock and sorrow cutting to his very core. The award-winning THIRTEEN REASONS WHY has been praised for being “compelling”, “remarkable” and having “dizzying emotion” and it was an international bestseller, but people have attempted to ban the book time and time again; it was the third most banned book in 2012. Below, YA author Patty Blount (SOME BOYS, NOTHING LEFT TO BURN) and Teen Board member Leanna R. talk about their own connection to THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and what they would say to those trying to challenge the book.
Charlie is your average “wallflower” in THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky, but everything changes when he meets some older kids at school. For the first time, he experiences true friends, young love, the glory that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show and some truly difficult aspects of growing up. A coming-of-age tale that’s been hailed a “modern classic” and was on the bestseller list for more than a year, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was also the 10th most banned book from 2000-2009, most often for being sexually explicit and having offensive language. Still though, there are many diehard fans that believe this book should not be banned by any means, including author Ava Dellaira [LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD] and Teen Board members Janine C. and Dally M. Below, the three of them discuss their own reactions to THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, and why it means so much to each of them.
October 5, 2015

Twilight Celebration: Seven New Love Triangles

Posted by Shara
Twilight, one of the first major series in the modern YA scene is turning 10 this year --- can you believe it? To celebrate, you should definitely go back and read the epic trilogy that started the vampire craze; there will even be a special new edition (coming out tomorrow!) with bonus content. Another way? Check out the blog post below, written by the talented team at BookSparks. If you’re yearning for more love triangles after revisiting Bella, Edward and Jacob, they offer seven other complicated romances that are sure to give you your fill.  
What makes you you? Is it the things you love, the things you do, the people you surround yourself with? Well, in the world of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning novel THE GIVER, not only would this question not matter, but it wouldn’t even make sense --- the Community lacks color, emotion and memory and strives for equality through “sameness.” This 1993 book has made waves since it first hit the shelves, receiving numerous awards and being praised for making readers think deeply about society, individuality and making change. However, it has also attracted negative attention for violence, sexual content and even “occult themes.” Below, author Amber Keyser (THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN) and Teen Board members Asia H. and Levi V. talk about their reactions to THE GIVER and why they find the book so meaningful.
One of the best-selling teen books of all time (and the inspiration for a smash hit on the silver screen), THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins transports readers to a dystopian society with a legendary tradition to stop rebellion: teens from each district must fight to the death until one victor remains. It’s dark. It’s violent. And it pulls at your heartstrings and makes you cry, think and cheer more than most YA books out there. Despite the book’s wild reception across the globe, it has frequently appeared on the American Library Association’s list of Top Ten Challenged Books since it was first published, generally for violence and because dissenters thought it was unsuited to the YA age group. Below, YA author Katie Coyle (VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD, VIVIAN APPLE NEEDS A MIRACLE) and Teen Board member Hafsah K. talk about their own love of THE HUNGER GAMES and why think banning this modern classic is, in the kindest of terms, “unreasonable.”
The six teen superheroes in the Zeroes trilogy epitomize teamwork --- each of their powers relates to crowds, and can only be used when other people are around. As it so happens, the whole process that took Zeroes from the seed of an idea to a fully published first book embodies this very theme. It was developed, written and edited by not one but three beloved authors (Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti and Margo Lanagan), and then polished, publicized and sent out into the world by an incredibly talented group at Simon & Schuster. Read below to get all of the inside details on how working together can make a great novel (or a great blog post; but of course, Westerfeld, Biancotti and Lanagan wrote this one, together!).
Even though it was written in 1975, the teen protagonists in Judy Blume’s FOREVER…are undergoing the same issues that adolescents experience today --- first love, first sexual encounters, fidelity and grappling with sexual preference. While FOREVER... has a huge fan base --- it was a runner-up for the Best Book of the Year Award by the National Council of Teachers of English and has been praised for candidly portraying teen life --- it has been repeatedly challenged by parents, teachers and abstinence groups across the country. Below, author Hilary Badger (STATE OF GRACE) and Teen Board member Aliza M. talk about why they enjoyed FOREVER..., and exactly how they’d respond to those pesky book-banners.
September 30, 2015

Monsters: Evolution

You’ve probably learned a lot about the evolution of humans in your biology class, but what about the evolution of fictional characters, more specifically, monsters? Young adult author Phillip W. Simpson knows a thing or two about that --- not only did he study ancient history and archaeology in school, concentrating on the monsters of Ancient Greece, but the protagonist of his newest novel, MINOTAUR, encapsulates monsters’ shift in the human imagination. How? Read below to find out!