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Real Young Adult Literature

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As an aspiring young adult author and a person who is passionate about teen issues, I voraciously read young adult literature. However, most of today’s young adult literature makes me sick! It seems after the Twilight series came out, everyone wants to jump on the paranormal fantasy bandwagon. All I ever see whenever I go to the library or bookstore are romance books about vampires or some similar thing like angels and fairies.  I’m not saying writing about these things are bad, but what vexes me is that these subjects aren’t written about realistically. I know some people will say, “Well duh, it’s a paranormal fantasy, it’s not supposed to be real.” In my opinion, fantasy is just a more creative version of reality. The Harry Potter series had magic and myth in it, but it also had themes of prejudice, friendship, and identity in it.

After I finished reading the Harry Potter series, I started reading the Twilight series because I kept seeing it everywhere in school. At first,  I loved the series like everyone else. Then, I read another vampire series called Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. As soon as I finished the first book, I no longer liked Twilight. Vampire Academy had stronger characters and themes that Twilight lacked. For example, the main character of Twilight, Bella, only seems to care about having a good relationship with boys. Contrastly, Rose, the main character of the Vampire Academy series, cares about more than just her boyfriend. She also cares for her friend Lissa and the politics she is involved in.

Once I finished reading the Vampire Academy series, I looked for paranormal books with similar themes and found very little that satisfied me. The only other series I found that I liked was the Riders of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Morse Kessler. These books feature supernatural elements, but they also feature teen issues such as eating disorders, self-injury, and bullying. I’ve only read one book in the series, Rage, but it turns out that the books can be read as a stand alone book or as a series of books. Rage is a book that features not only the topics of self-injury and bullying, but also the themes of identity and self acceptance. While the book also features some supernatural romance, it doesn’t overshadow the main themes and topics.

The thing that probably annoys me the most about today’s young adult literature is that most teens don’t realize seem to realize that they are reading books that don’t truly represent who they are. They are too caught up in the romance and gorgeous looks of characters that they don’t care about anything else. Today, I looked up a list of books that were voted Teen’s Top Ten on the Young
Adult Library Service’s Association website. The majority of the books are paranormal.

I understand that finding out who you are as a teen is difficult, but that doesn’t mean that we should sugarcoat adolescence with romance and vainness! There are more important things that teens deal with, things that need to be addressed in books and other forms of entertainment.

According to,  1 million children are bullied every week in and outside of school.  In addition, 20 teens commit suicide every year due to bullying.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 10 million women and 1 million men suffer from an eating disorder.

According to the Cornell Research Program on Self Injury, 12 to 24 percent of young people self injure.

If teens aren’t aware of real issues they may encounter, then they will not be prepared for life as adult. They must be educated about them in order to cope with these issues properly and to help others who deal with these issues.  Therefore, here is my own list of  twenty young adult books that deal with the many themes and issues of teens.

  1. The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth by Alexandra Robbins
  2. The Freedom Writers’ Diary by Erin Grunwell and The Freedom Writers
  3. Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
  4. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
  5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan
  6. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
  7. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  8. Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler
  9. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  10. Staying Fat For Sarah Byrns by Chris Crutcher
  11. Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
  12. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  13. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
  14. Looking For Alaska by John Green
  15. Paper Towns by John Green
  16. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  17. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  18. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl by Barry Lyga
  19. Fat Kid Rules The World by K.L. Going
  20. The Realm of Possibility by David Leviathan

Written by Serena Zola

October 17, 2011 at 1:50 PM

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