Thursday, February 25, 2010

First Friday

It's been one heck of a pseudo-launch week here at The YA-5 blog. We're psyched to be here and love that you've stopped by to visit. We hope you come back next week to meet the rest of our team and witness our shenanigans (yes, there will be shenanigans). *note to selves: schedule shenanigans*

In case you're wondering what else we were up to (besides partying and celebrating our pseudo -launch), there's a summary of links to what everyone's blogged about this week on their author blogs!

We'll be back Monday. Have a great weekend and we leave you with this parting fortune cookie quote, "You will meet someone interesting today."

Kelly Barnhill

Steph Bowe

Georgia McBride

Sara McClung

Cristin Terrill

Georgia and The YA-5

PS-leave a comment and tell us what you're doing this weekend!

BFF, Prom, or Kick In The Face?

For reasons that we do not need to go into here, I spend a lot of my time thinking about kicking people in the face. So I thought, hey, why not figure out the best fictional characters to kick in the face? Why limit myself to mere mortals when I could have the whole fictional world to HI-YA in the nose.

Just to keep things fair, though, I’ve decided to add some more friendly categories to this exercise in insanity fun-ness. So I’m also going to tell you which characters I’d like to be BFFs with, and which ones would make good prom dates.

Ready? Let’s play: BFF, Prom, or Kick In The Face! First, I’ll list the characters so you can make your own decisions without being influenced by mine.

Peeta, from THE HUNGER GAMES series

Katniss, also from the HUNGER GAMES series

Huck Finn, don’t make me say which book he’s from




And I have to include Bella and Edward. You know I do.

So, have you mulled it over? Come to terms with some difficult decisions? Good. Here’s my list:

Peeta: Kick in the face. I know this will immediately make me hated by, like, half the world, but come on you guys. Peeta needs a backbone. He comes across as pasty and namby-pamby and lovesick and willing to let Katniss drag him around by his hair as long as she’s *zomg* touching his hair! I’m holding out hope that in MOCKINGJAY, Peeta finds some hot chick who’s into baked goods, and sensitive boys and they ride off into the sunset together to make muffins and babies.

Katniss: I’d love to go to prom with Katniss. She’d show up all, “Stupid Peeta made me come,” and she’d eat a chocolate covered strawberry. Then she’d make a face and we’d ditch the lame dancing to go lay in a field somewhere where we would gaze at the stars and talk about how much everything sucks.

Huck Finn: This one is a toss up. My initial instinct is to go with BFF because it would be tons of fun to hang out with Huck, getting in trouble and learning Important Lessons (but only by accident). It would also pretty fun to go to prom with him, too, though, but in a backwards kind of way like with Katniss. He’d be late picking me up, but he’d be super cute about it so I’d forgive him. Then, after about five minutes of lame dancing he’d shout, “We’re heading down to the river for the REAL party, effers!” and he’d grab my arm and whisk me off on his sketchy motorbike for a night of (innocent, though no one at the time thinks it’s innocent) fun.

Cameron: Cam is a hard one because he spends a lot of time kicking himself in the face. You kind of don’t want to kick someone in the face when they already have their own bootprint over their eye, you know? So I’m going with BFF, if only because everyone needs an Eeyore of a friend who has a deadpan sense of humor and a world-weary streak.

Gonzo: As annoying as an OCD, mama’s boy dwarf geek can be, I think Gonzo would make a great BFF. Sure he’d be annoying at times, but he’s gonna be loyal. And he’s gonna talk me out of doing dumb things, while supporting me to do other Gonzo-approved dumb things. Very good, both those traits.

Mary: Instead of kicking her in the face, I’d go easier on Mary. She’d be a good BFF who needs a quick punch to the ear hole every now and then. You know, to snap her out of being so insanely insane. I would like to ally myself with someone who’s pretty much bonkers because those are the people who get things done. They’re all, “Whatever. These zombie a-holes are going to eat us all? Awesome. Because I have a feeling I know something about a thing over by the one spot that one person talked about that time before the other time. And if this feeling is correct we are all going to see the statue of liberty head in the sand and be all, ‘NOOOOO!!!!!’ but then things will be OK because of the ocean.” And I’m going to look at her like her hair is on fire and be like,
But then totally go along with everything she says, because she’s Mary and she’s pretty awesome.

Bella and Edward: Kick in the face, kick in the handsome sparkly face. But you knew I was going to say that already, didn’t you?

So tell me, who have you chosen as BFF, Prom or KITF? Any other fictional characters you’d like to add?

HI-YA! (5)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Surviving the Book: The Lord of the Flies

The classics are always a part of any required reading lists. Here are my tips to help you get through what can sometimes be a long, boring, assigned ride.

Bookstore Guerilla: Snapshot of a Teen Reader

One thing I've learned about this world is sometimes you've got to go straight to the horse's mouth. Even if it makes you look like some kind of socially maladjusted stalker person.

So yes, I staked out the YA section at my local Barnes and Noble waiting for a teen to accost and question about their reading habits, and yes, it was supremely awkward.

Luckily, I met Sarah. She's on her school paper, so she understands how dumb you feel walking up to a stranger and asking them for an interview. She was very sympathetic to my plight and didn't make fun of me even a little, although there were definitely shades of "oookay, crazy lady" in her eyes as we spoke. Her parents obviously taught her well.


What are you looking at?

(She's holding Paper Towns by John Green.) I'm just flipping through, seeing what's new. I feel like I've already seen a lot of these.

What gets you to pick up a book?

I guess if it looks interesting or unusual. If the cover attracts my eye. A lot of covers look basically the same, so if I see something different, I'll usually pick it up.

What makes you decide to buy a book

I read the summary first, and if that appeals to me, I'll read a little of the beginning. One book that I read recently, I read the first page and couldn't put it down because it was exactly my kind of book. It was called Gone [by Michael Grant]. It hooked you right from the beginning instead of taking awhile to get going. And it was about a post-apocalyptic kind of world, which I really love.

Most YA writers are adults in their thirties or older. Do you think they get the teen experience right?

It really depends on the book. Some books are really good at capturing your attention and seeming really realistic.

But a lot of them focus too much on high school cliques or romances that sort of stereotype teens, like the Gossip Girl books [by Cecily Von Zeigesar] or Twilight [you guys know]. Those are like trashy reads. They're fun but don't really have any substance. They don't reflect my experience, but they can still be fun to read sometimes.

Are you sick of vampires?

A little bit. There are some books that do it well, but it seems like every other book I pick up is supernatural something. Some writers can really pull it off and make it good and original, but sometimes it's just overdone. I'll give some supernatural books a chance but not all of them.

So it's not just vampires that are overdone, but the whole supernatural genre?

Yeah. I think it started with vampires, but now anytime I see werewolves or fairies or ghosts, I kind of feel like rolling my eyes, you know? But some are still really good. Like I just read Shiver [by Maggie Stiefvater] and I really liked that, but I had to get past the wolf thing first.

How much do you read?

I have to read for English, but that stuff all has to have "literary merit." For fun, I'd say I read about one book a month.

What do you think about e-books?

I prefer real books, because there's something about actually holding it in your hand, and spatially it's just easier to look at than scrolling through a screen. I think that would be distracting.

Do you ever read book blogs or search out favorite authors online?

Not really. If I read a book I really like, sometimes I'll go to Amazon to see what else the author has written, but that's about it.

Edward or Jacob?

Ugh, neither. Who was that guy she went to school with? Mike? Yeah, I pick Mike.

Sarah was the first teen I approached, completely at random, and I gotta say. If she's at all indicative of the average YA reader, I have hope for the future. As you can see, she was knowledgeable, confident of her opinions, and easily able to express them.

A couple of the things she said rang very true for me. Those of you who know me already will know that I was over the supernatural trend, like, yesterday. I can still be interested in and impressed by the odd book that offers a different take on the genre or otherwise rises above the crowd, but vampires and werewolves hold no particular fascination for me. I'd much rather see, say, historical fiction become the genre du jour.

So it's nice to know that Sarah, at least, won't buy a book just because it has a pair of fangs and shiny hair on the cover. Quality and originality still hold the most sway for her, regardless of trends.

The other thing that resonated with me was her comment about how many YA novels portray cliques or romances in a way that isn't representative of the average teenage experience. This has been on my mind for awhile now, since lately it seems like I keep running into these mean girl novels that don't remind me at all of my high school experience. (Nevermind how alien the idea of marrying your vampire soulmate straight out of high school must sound to most tenth graders).

Sure, there were cliques at my school and some truly awful girls who made life miserable for the rest of us, but none of them moved with the kind of self-awareness, calculation, and brutality that one would assume all popular kids operate with if you got all your information about teens from teen novels.

So, what's that about? Either my high school experience is not representative, totally possible, or some of us are going astray in accurately portraying the teen experience. Or maybe writers are consciously sacrificing realism for drama, the escapism factor that Sarah mentioned as being a part of her "trashy reads."

I'm not sure just what all of this means yet. These are bigger questions than I have time for in this post, but it's definitely an area I'm going to be looking into for the YA-5 in the future. First I need to conduct a couple of Highly Scientific Polls, the cousin of the Highly Scientific Interview above.

So what do you think? Are you surprised by any of Sarah's answers? Do you think she's representative of the average YA reader, and if so, what does that say about what we're writing for her and other teens like her?

- Cristin

Read more about me HERE or drop by MY OWN PIECE of internet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who are the enigmatic YA-5?

YA that matters, 5 days a week

The YA-5 is a group of writers with a shared vision for change. Change in the way that information about YA books is shared on the web - with you, the people who read & love YA books. We don't want to tell you which books to buy - we'd rather hear what you think.

Talk to us. Tell us what you think, what you know and how you feel about YA. Comment on our blogs, our vlogs, our ramblings. Tweet us, tag us, call us out when we're full of it. We're The YA-5 and we can take it.

But don't look for us on the weekend, 'cause even superheroes need days off.

There are actually seven of us - Kelly Barnhill, Steph Bowe, K. A. Holt, Justina Ireland, Georgia McBride, Sara McClung and Cristin Terrill (hit About to read our kick-ass bios) - YA authors who want to hear what you think and share it with the world!

I'm Steph Bowe, a 16-year-old Aussie and YA author (my debut novel to hit shelves in Australia this September, and in the US next summer). You might know me from my blog about reading, writing and zombies, Hey! Teenager of the Year. I'm the youngest blogger on the YA-5 team, so I'll be contributing a teenaged perspective on YA literature. I read, write, blog and breathe YA - and I do it wearing this awesome author crown:

I know. Awesome, right?

But hey! It's not all about me! Right now I'm rounding up interviews with teenagers who love YA books - on everything from book covers to vampire lit - so if you'd like your opinion heard (by me, at least!), send me an email -

P.S. If you've got suggestions for the blog - stuff you'd like to see, sites we should check out, questions, comments or requests - send them to!

So, tell us about yourself, and what you want to see on The YA-5!