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What Makes good Young Adult Fiction?

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Old 08-16-2009, 12:08 PM
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Default What Makes good Young Adult Fiction?


I was wondering what you guys thought, what makes good young adult fiction? So I'm asking anyone who is around 14 to 17 or anyone who writes young adult to tell me your top ten favorite books, the reasons they stick out in your mind, what drives the characters and how it is presented. I want to know your guys opinions, because my goal is to research update info on what the teens nowadays are reading. I know since I'm 20 that I'm not considered young even to be a young adult. I also need this list because I might read the most common books in each list and see if they are well written as most would say they are. So yeah, thanks in advance for any opinions and comments.

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Old 08-16-2009, 05:03 PM
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hey! im 15, so im perfect : D

</ego>

That said I'm very mature for for my age and tend to read adult books. I'll still give you the list, and why. but some of the books are adult. not young adult.

1) 1984 - george orwell - I love the Dystopia theme, and the characters are the most well developed i've seen. It has next to no action, but the tension is always at its height. I don't suspect many people my age would have read this.

2)
Promise of the wolves - Dorothy Hearst. Characters. Action. And the fact i'm obsessed with wolves. Most of the characters here are well defined, and it carries a very unique point of view, plot line and.. well almost everything.

3) Most things by Matthew Reilly - In particually, Ice station. Great action. Great characters. Great description. I'm not sure what makes this guy so awesome. But i want to write just like him, I reread his work countless times as much for story as for learning his ways. Most boys around my age will have read at least one of his novels. (at lest, in Australia) IF not one for his longer ones then the novella 'hell island' whenever Im stuck in an action scene i read that, takes me half an hour, and then when i finish Im ready to write!

5) Matthew Reilly, again. Hover car racer - This book is different to what he usually does. But its still golden (quite literally, the cover is gold) The characters are what hooked me here.

4)'warriors' series - Erin hunter. (only the first series) I used to love these books, and still do. But looking back they are poorly written. and i have noticed characters change gender midway through the series. poor editing? It is however, very, very different to anything else i have ever read. It deals with good action, and has a absorbing plot and plot background. The writing is a little childish, what i would expect for an 11 year old. but then battle scenes comes along and suddenly the book becomes for 15 year olds. And as the series progresses it gets darker. I think the main thing that kept me reading was the main character was the mirror image of my pet cat (yes, its about cats) who died a few months before i got the book. That said, in the third book, When Greystripes lover Silverstream dies. I cried.

6) The 'Alex rider' series - Anthony Horowitz. I read this quite a few years ago, and i still love it. Granted i do wish the action wasn't as bland. The hook here is its more of a fantasy. Its about a 16 year old boy who joins the secret service. I cant quite put my finger on what i like here, Its not the characters, Its not the action. It could be the plot. or as i said, that fact its the fantasy of 90% of teenage boys. ok well, not THAT kind of fantasy, but you know what i mean!

hmm, I cant really think of what else is worth mentioning. I have read allot more, but nothing else has earned a position in my 'top ten'

I have to say one thing, The books i notice most people around school with follow the trend. after twilight ( as much bas i wish it never happened) almost everyone is walking around with a book about vampires.
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Old 08-16-2009, 06:12 PM
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I'm outside of that age bracket now but a little trip down memory lane's always a bit of fun.

I remember being pretty into Animorphs in the younger years. I think it was because the characters were around the same age as me and had the same issues teenagers face (parents, school, etc) but they had that special gift of being able to transform into any animal and got the chance to go off on a crazy number of adventures that every teenager wants to. For me, it was a nice mix of realism within my young teenage world and the adventures that I would have loved to have gone on. Nice action, smooth characters, good plots (well, then...). I think the most important thing was that none of it was dumbed down. It didn't feel like a young adult book (to me) because there was the occasional relatively graphic fight scene that made me get excited... ('I didn't know books could do that!' ).

I read them again a little later and found the whole kids vs yeerks theme pretty lame, haha. But at the time I was quite wrapped up in them.

Just my $0.02
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Old 08-16-2009, 06:25 PM
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Drugs.
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Old 08-16-2009, 07:08 PM
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Truth about Forever-Sarah Dessen
Dreamland-Sarah Dessen
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:08 AM
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anything by Kavita Daswani (i'm the father of a 14 yr. old girl, so i have a special care about what young girls are into).
Let Slip the Dogs of Love (Suburban Legends of the Living and the Dead).
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:18 AM
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I was really into Gary Paulson books when I was younger. I loved that he showed how hard wilderness survival can be, but how interesting. I learned a lot, too. He also had a knack for making an interesting book with very few characters; I think that shows young people that it's all right to be alone sometimes, and there's value in thinking. It also made me want to be a survivor.

Along the same lines, My Side of the Mountain was cool! Seven Alone and Streams to the River, Rivers to the Sea fed my interest in the American frontier. There were others, but I can't remember right now.

I read some Tamora Pierce fantasy books, too. I mostly liked them for escapism and what I now recognise as some shameless Mary-Sueism.

And I read a lot of historical fiction and classics.

What I think makes good young adult fiction is stuff that presents adult ideas or problems (Number the Stars, anyone?) in language just a bit above what the kids normally read (otherwise, they won't grow and learn from it). It's not necessary to have children as main characters. It is necessary to treat children like people who can understand complex things.

In retrospect, I value what I got from Paulson more than what I got from Pierce. Paulson talked about death and starving and working hard, and how a single dumb mistake can kill you. He also talked about getting things right and the rewards. Pierce showed the big problems being solved with magic. Granted, the characters had to work at their magic and be disciplined, but it still wasn't as true for me.
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:14 PM
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Here's a list of books, in no order or sequence, that either I or many others I know have been interested in. Some of these books I love to death, while some of them I can't stand. But I think these are the most popular for the HS age group. Lol, which is why most of them are the 'classics' =)

The Giver
The Outsiders
The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
Pride and Prejudice
1984
A Million Little Pieces
Anything by Chuck Palahnick (sp! lol)
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:08 PM
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What makes good young adult fiction is not very different from what makes good adult fiction. You need intriguing characters, vivid description, trying challenges, etc, etc.

The operative word here is, however, "good". What teenagers think is good and what adults think is good are two different things. No, I don't mean that teenagers love crap. I mean that teenagers identify with different types of characters, different types of setting, different types of problems. But if it's well written, they will love it.

That said, every once in a while there comes a book that both adults and teenagers can love. Usually these deal with themes and plots that are universal, as well as characters that can cross the generation gap. But, even through all the differences between teens and adults, there is still a lot of similarities.

Thus, two morals: #1: write well. #2: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:50 AM
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I can't think of ten right now, haha, but i'll tell you two series' that are phenomenal: The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini, and the Artemis Fowl Series buy Eion Colfer. Fantastic, fantastic books.
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by YourBiggestFan View Post
I can't think of ten right now, haha, but i'll tell you two series' that are phenomenal: The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini, and the Artemis Fowl Series buy Eion Colfer. Fantastic, fantastic books.
I think I just threw up in my mouth.
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:54 AM
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When I think young adult, I always think "The Giver" even though it might not be considered as such.

But when it comes to genre's like this, it seems kind of arbitrary to write to the genre. Just write the novel and when you are done decide where it fits it.
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Old 08-19-2009, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DasTränegras View Post
I think I just threw up in my mouth.
OUCH. What a kick in the pants that was, Das.
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by PenPen View Post
4)'warriors' series - Erin hunter. (only the first series) I used to love these books, and still do. But looking back they are poorly written. and i have noticed characters change gender midway through the series. poor editing? It is however, very, very different to anything else i have ever read. It deals with good action, and has a absorbing plot and plot background. The writing is a little childish, what i would expect for an 11 year old. but then battle scenes comes along and suddenly the book becomes for 15 year olds. And as the series progresses it gets darker. I think the main thing that kept me reading was the main character was the mirror image of my pet cat (yes, its about cats) who died a few months before i got the book. That said, in the third book, When Greystripes lover Silverstream dies. I cried.
If you liked this you would love Watership Downs, which I believe was what Erin Hunter was attempting to copy. Doesn't really measure up. I loved the similarity to Watership Downs, but put the book down when I noticed a research error one of the writers who are Erin Hunter ought to have caught.

The medicine cat recommends rolling in a garlic patch just to be safe from infection. Garlic is EXTREMELY toxic to cats as are any other members of the lily family. I know this because when I decided to write a cat story that involved herbs, I looked up natural herbalism...for cats...not people.

She made cats into fur-people. Disappointing.
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Old 08-19-2009, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by UninvokedAuthor View Post

The medicine cat recommends rolling in a garlic patch just to be safe from infection. Garlic is EXTREMELY toxic to cats as are any other members of the lily family. I know this because when I decided to write a cat story that involved herbs, I looked up natural herbalism...for cats...not people.
Thats actually a very serious error!

While I know better, a younger child could very easily feed their cat garlic after reading that. I really hope not5hing like that has ever happened, but chances are his has/will.
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Old 08-22-2009, 07:14 AM
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I'm 19 now so close. But for the longest time Ella Enchanted was my favorite book. I just loved the story and that Levine actually gave her a good reason for staying with the evil step family (it's a rewrite of Cinderella). I also loved The Secret Country Trilogy. I can't really explain it; then I liked the stories but now I've changed a lot so I look for more in my books than just a good story.
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:38 PM
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Ok, I'm 17, and I probably have the most unique view on this.

I both read and write young adult. What am I reading? I'll tell ya in a moment.

The first thing to fully comprohend when writing YA, is the following, which also goes for any genre:

DON'T COPY OTHERS. MAKE SOMETHING NEW. BREAK THE CURVE.

lol Did you get my point? haha YA fiction these days suffers from a lack of novels that have actual original ideas and or well written stories that are imaginative.

Having a couple of book series that are good selling is not a good thing, it's HORRENDOUS! There should be TONS of bestselling popular ongoing books in YA fiction that are taking that market by storm. But there isn't, why? Because the number of well crafted, imaginative, curve breaking, and gripping stories is very low.

I hardly read any American written young adult fiction anymore simply because its all so cliche, overdone, unimaginative, etc these days.

So where am I turning to and other teens? I'll tell ya. Japanese Fiction. That's right, were turning to the nation of Japan to read translated japanese YA.

It hasn't caught on just yet with the mainstream, mainly due to a lack of knowledge about it, but teens who read one japanese book series, start looking for more. Why? Because the author's over there are actually creating new and original stories that are actually appealing to both young adults and adults alike.

My list of my top 5 favorite translated Japanese YA novels are as follows, and I'm sure you've NEVER heard of any of them, since few have.

1. Kino no Tabi -The Beautiful World- by Keiichi Sigsawa
2. Ballad of Shinigami by K-Ske Hasegawa
3. GOSICK by Kazuya ???
4. Full Metal Panic! by Shouji Gatou
5. Spice and Wolf by ??? ???

Sorry for the "?", sometimes I forget the authors names.

When writing YA, write a story that's very different from whats out there. Don't be afraid to be crazy or goofy, don't think that teenagers won't like something cause its deep, just write an amazing story, and the rest will follow. ^_^
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:15 PM
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^ How are these authors different? What makes their storylines compelling? What's the Japanese flavour like? Sounds interesting.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:34 PM
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The authors are a part of a new emerging and fast growing book industry in Japan called "Light Novels". These novels are recognizable for several distinct qualities.

1. They all have an anime drawn cover (mind you, these books are NOT based on anime or adaptations, they are simply using the art form for their covers) and will also have around 5-7 black and white illustrations within the novel.

2. The novels are apart of series, long series. Full Metal Panic! has had over 20 novels published thus far. Spice and Wolf has had around 12 novels published thus far. Kino no Tabi and Ballad of a Shinigami are both 12 novels as well currently. GOSICK has had over 6 novels published so far. And mind you, all these novels are still going, they haven't ended, they also are still hot bestsellers, even though some started in 1999 and 2000.

Other long series are Shakugan no Shana (over 20 novels published and still going), Zero no Tsukaima (almost 20 novels, and still going), etc.

These books are also recognizable for their distinct writing style.

They do not ramble. Everything is SHORT and SWEET. If they can describe the room in 3 sentences instead of several paragraphs, they do. They don't spent needless time on descriptions, and they also are dialogue heavily. In fact, dialogue is a main story moving device.

The story's are lavish, imaginative, and appealing.

Such as...

Zero no Tsukaima by Noboru Yamaguchi (if you had to relate this to something in english, think of Harry Potter. The translated title is "Zero's Familiar". But in truth, the simularities are few and far between. The story starts off with Saito, an average teen, just arriving back from the computer shop, suddenly seeing a huge hole in the middle of the air, he put his arm through and is tugged through to the other side where upon landing, hes surrounded by strange looking people in coats. Hes later informed that a teenage magican at the magic school he just landed at summoned him as her servant for life. What follows is a magical, comedic, suspensful, and romantic, and at times dramatic story of two unlikely lovers. Filled with dragons, an entire political system that resembles an alternate europe and middle east, the story has gone on for around 20 novels and is a big bestseller in Japan, still going strong with new books out every 4 months or so.

GOSICK is about a japanese student who is the son of a military general in the year 1924 is sent abroad to a school nesteled beside the European Alps where students who either are gifted or wished to be gotten rid of by their parents, are sent. He befriends a reclusive and doll like genious girl who resides in the school library. What they don't realize is that their about to take a trip that will test them in every way imaginable.

Full Metal Panic! is about a japanese born soldier who is apart of a special ops military group called Milthril that is not connected to any single government. Their job is to make sure WW3 does not happen, and to stop the still active KGB and Soviet forces along with other active terrorism forces. Set in the year 1999, in an alternate timeline when humans have created giant mech's for military purposes, Sousuke, the soldier spoken of before, is sent to Japan to protect a highschool girl from the KGB who is after her for some reason. Without more info, he is sent and what follows is a comedic high octane adventure that has made it one of the best selling novels in Japan with over 20 novels published thus far since the year 1999.

Spice and Wolf is set in the Medieval Ages during the Catholic Church's firm reign over Europe. It follows the story of a merchant named Lawrence who by chance meets a wolf diety named Horo. They make an agreement and the story that follows is one that has recently become a huge bestseller. With 12 novels so far, the story is one of both historical/romantic/and suspensful nature.

Ballad of a Shinigami is about a shinigami (angel of death) and the people she must carry on to the next realm. But the stories are not always what they seem, and Momo seems to have a way of interfering in people's death's that the higher ups in command don't always approve of. A 12 volume collection of short stories that both sadden you and warm your heart.

Kino no Tabi is one of the best bestselling light novel in all of Japan, following the travels of "Kino" and her talking motorcycle "Hermes". The 12 novels so far are a collection of short stories that are either humurous, or deeply thought provoking and philosophical.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is another huge bestselling series with 9 novels published, it follows a girl named Haruhi who without knowing, has the power to destroy the entire universe. But luckily she doesn't know it. And so Kyon, the time traveling girl, the android girl, and the esper must all work together to keep Haruhi content, lest the future unravel.

All of these books have been made into Television Shows, Theatrical Movies, and Mangas as well as Radio Audio Dramas, etc.

Wow, that was a long post. Hope its helpful! hahahaha

Japanese novels are famous and best liked because of their HUGE variety of great stories combined with great writing.

I'm actually studying Japanese so that I can read more of their novels without waiting. lol

日本語はものすごいです。lol

-Matt

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Old 08-29-2009, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PenPen View Post
1) 1984 - george orwell - I love the Dystopia theme, and the characters are the most well developed i've seen. It has next to no action, but the tension is always at its height. I don't suspect many people my age would have read this.
I just finished this! It was really, really great. (I'm 15 too). Have you read animal farm?
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