Delirium and The Selection: TV series?

During the seminar this week on Dystopic fiction we talked about two series – Delirium by Lauren Oliver and The Selection by Kiera Cass – well it looks like both being optioned for tv pilots, and if they’re picked up full tv seasons next September.

If you want more information – Delirium is being optioned at Fox and The Selection is being optioned for The CW – the links will take to you TvLine with more information about the pilots.

The potential Fox pilots here, and more specific info here.

The potential CW pilots here, and more specific info about The Selection here.

A Classic

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton The_Outsiders_book

When I was in grade 7, my English class read The Outsiders. As an adult I have little memory of my initial reaction to the text. This time around, I feel like I truly got to enjoy the novel for its complex character voices, honest portrayals of the type of cliques and subsequent bullying that goes on in and out of schools, and the family-like relationship built with people that are not necessarily family – characteristics that will leave a lasting impression.

The setting of the novel at first glance may seem simplistic. Ponyboy Curtis and the Greasers are from small town America, where the haves, the Socs, and the have not’s, the Greasers, are segregated. But Ponyboy’s world is anything but simplistic. The characters are very well constructed and relatable. Even if you have never felt the extreme segregation that Ponyboy and his friends feel, and even if you’ve never greased back you hair, or carried a switchblade, you still feel like you know these boys, or that you are one of them.

The hardships, and struggles that Ponyboy faces are extreme, and not every teenager will have witnessed or been apart of a fight, but every reader will be able to relate to the overwhelming feeling of not belonging. Ponyboy’s own internal struggle between the strong bonds he feels with his friends and his family, and the isolation that he feels from the same people, will resonate strongly with readers. While there is violence and language used when depicting the literal fights that Ponyboy is apart of, and the internal struggles that Ponyboy faces, by today’s standards, the novel is fairly tame.

Yes some of the vocabulary and jargon is dated, and yes some of the references may not be understood by teens today, but Ponyboy’s story is still one that teens can learn from and relate to.  Readers in grade 7 to grade 10 would be the perfect audience for The Outsiders because of the Ponyboy’s relatable nature, the life lessons that he learns and his personal struggle to find himself, outside of being a Greasers and outside from being his brothers’ little brother.

If Today’s Teens Aren’t Like Us, Then How Do We Write About Them?

Identifying and understanding the major trends in teen or young adult literature is imperative for teachers, librarians or parents, trying to find books that will speak to the teens in their schools, libraries and homes. Karen Coats brings up a point in her article Young Adult Literature: Growing up, In Theory that adults today had a completely different experience as teenagers, than today’s teens will have. Coats suggests that teens today are completely different, with a different style of language and different understanding of the world than teens even ten years ago.

My question is, if this is the case and writers of teen fiction need to be in the now in order to write relatable characters, with voices that today’s teens will understand, then what happens to all of the teen fiction that was written for teen voices of the past? What happens to the Ponyboy Curtis’ (The Outsiders), Holden Caulfields’ (The Catcher in the Rye), or even the Jonas’ (The Giver), Jerry Renault’s (The Chocolate War) and Macy’s (The Truth About Forever)?  All of these novels were written at least eight years ago – does that mean that they are out of touch with today’s teens? And what about the teens ten years from now that presumably will have another new and completely different voice?

While I completely agree with Coats that creating a character whose voice is relatable and understandable to today’s teens is extremely important, I would argue that there is longevity in characters that veer away from the expected. Novels like The Hunger Games and Divergent are creating worlds that do not need to represent the world of a teenager, but an entire different world, with different types of characters, different voices and experiences that can speak to many different types of people. Within these kinds of setting maybe writers do not need to be as sensitive language or replicating the voice of today’s teens.

I believe that there is still a place for ‘classics’ like The Outsiders, we just may need to be more inventive in finding links between Greasers, and for instance, computer geniuses. I’m not suggesting that Coats is implying only books that represent the voice of today’s teens will be successful – but I think that an author trying to replicate a voice that they do not understand, versus creating a character with a voice of their own, is bound to fail.

I found this article extremely thought provoking. The idea of the typical or the popular just made me want to go out and find the innovators.

Reading Response #1: Getting YAs Voices Heard

Overall, I didn’t find that many of the findings or opinions found were in Clare Snowball’s Teenagers Talking About Reading and Library were all that surprising. The primary idea that I took away, was that the only way to get teens and youth more actively involved in a public library is to let them know what they have access to at the library.

It makes sense to me that teens would have differing views about what can be defined as reading, it also makes sense to me that at the beginning of the focus groups teens would be less forthright about liking to read, changing their statements when they find that other teens are reading too. If the same kind of questions were asked to a group of adults, I think that the behaviors, answers, and opinions would be fairly similar.

The one finding that I felt uncovered information unique to the teen demographic was the difficulty that some teens have accessing a library because of travel restrictions, and the amount of use teens get out of their school libraries. Identifying actual problems that libraries can work at finding solutions for, in my opinion is the first step towards having teens feel like there is a place for them at the public library.

Through the focus group Snowball did identify some trends in teen readings behaviors like how teens tend to read materials about protagonists their age and they like the format of magazine. The same kinds of discoveries were discussed in the Ross, McKechnie and Rothbauer (RMR) chapter and I found the way they presented this information was much more informative and beneficial as an aid in a library. The popularity of graphic novels, manga and comics for instance was discussed in the Snowball article, but in the RMR chapter the formats are expanded and linked to other potential interests like fan fiction websites or role playing games based on characters and storylines found in literature.

The readers interviewed for RMR work may be a bit older and therefore the opinions may be a little different from those of the teens in Snowball’s article, but I appreciated that full thoughts were expressed. In Snowball’s article I found a great deal of the quotes to be fragmented. I never felt that I really understood what the teens were trying to say. I also did not appreciate Snowball’s decision to alter the language of the teens by omitting the word ‘like’ when the word did not grammatically belong in the sentence. I’m not sure how an opinion can be understood, or how something can be learned about a demographic, when their natural language is being challenged and questioned in an atmosphere where some understanding about teens as a demographic is attempting to be learned.

I appreciated that both materials were attempting to open dialogues and learn more about teens and their interests. I think that continually opening these dialogues and educating adults about the findings is the only way that teens will begin to become more comfortable with adults in general, and in public libraries.

Youth in the News

I wasn’t able to find a significant amount of news about youth or teens in either London, or my hometown Kitchener, in the last week. The majority of the news that I did find involving this demographic reflected the death of a 17-year old Kitchener boy, when he was struck by a car while riding his bike, and a 15-year old boy who was mugged by an 18-20 year old man in Kitchener on the way to a public library. I found those pieces of news to be fairly generic, with little more included than information you would expect in such news stories. Both boys described were victims and accordingly they were positively represented.

After doing this weeks reading Representations of Youth in Local Media: Implications for Library Science by Anthony Bernier I was shocked by the study’s findings about the number of negative reporting’s in the news involving teens. When I think about the representation of the demographic that such reporting’s create, I have a hard time understanding why the positive things teens do are not focused on more. I was almost pleasantly surprised – pleasantly not really being the best expression of how I felt considering the events that inspired the news articles – by the articles that I found.

I didn’t want to focus on either of these articles because I feel that so much more can be learned from articles that represent teens in a negative way. The article I ultimately selected, Accused Teen A Lucas Grad, is very interesting, because given the fact that Michael MacGregor has been charged with first-degree murder, it is somewhat understandable that he would be presented in a negative way.

The article was attempting to spotlight some part about who MacGregor is, by attempting to interview a representative from the high school and college MacGregor attended, as well as interviewing people who went to his high school. The interesting thing is that the majority of the people interviewed who were featured in the article, didn’t know MacGregor at all.

Terminology and descriptions of some of MacGregor’s habits, including the website where he apparently met fellow murder suspect Tanya Bogdanovich, were very strong described with what I can only assume was intentionally graphic language. All of these components help the reader create a negative impression of MacGregor. But, as I previously stated, given the crime he is accused of, that representation is somewhat understandable.

What I found more interesting than the way MacGregor was presented in the article, was the way other teens interviewed about MacGregor were presented. The one line that really stuck out to me was, “Another girl, smoking outside school property, said MacGregor was ‘a nice guy. He has a nice family.’” The fact that the girl was interviewed outside of school property smoking, to me, is not a pertinent detail. Smoking, socially, is not really viewed as a positive habit. It may just be me, but I feel that adding the detail of smoking is used to create a specific image or idea about the validity of what the interviewee was saying. She also had the only opinion that represented MacGregor in a somewhat positive way.

I found my reactions to the information included, and the language used to present that information to be very interesting – especially because I was paying such close attention to my responses. While I don’t feel that there is a way to positively represent someone that is being charged of murder, I did find it very interesting that the one voice with something positive to say was, in my opinion, intentionally negatively represented.

The full article is available through The London Free Press.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds The review for Alexandra Bracken’s novel The Darkest Minds that I have chosen to investigate is from Publishers Weekly. I chose to look at a review of this novel because I purchased it for Christmas for one of my cousin’s. She has similar reading interests as me, and she dove into the book before finishing opening her other presents. I wanted to see if her reaction, and my initial reasons for selecting the novel were represented within a review. Merrilee Heifetz from Writers House, a literary agency, wrote the review.

The review is fairly short, but to the point. The CM Magazine review considerations identify seven different categories of information to be included in a review of a fiction material. While not all of the categories are extensively discussed for this novel, a strong impression of the novel was created.

The author’s background could have been more clearly stated. Bracken’s name was followed only by the title Brightly Woven in parenthesis. While I assumed Brightly Woven was another title by Bracken, I was unsure if the reviewer was including the title because it was the most popular title Bracken had previously published, or the only other title she has had published. But, the review does clearly state that the background of the novel, listing The Darkest Minds is the first in a planned trilogy.

While it is not explicitly stated, the reviewer gives an impression that they felt a very strong and effective setting was created in the novel by the descriptive terminology about the story and setting throughout the review. A very strong impression of the novel is given, with enough detail and synopsis to make the novel sound appealing to readers. But I did find that not many details or descriptions were heightened by the review in comparison to the details that were given on the jacket cover.

The review gives a strong impression of thematic considerations by using terms like “futuristic”, “fantasy” and “strong female character”. The appeal factor for readers is clearly stated, but I would have liked to have more information about content. The reviewer leaves the reader with the impression that the novel is bleak and scary, with potentially a more mature storyline. The impression given to me does not necessarily correlate with the level of 12-up that is given. While I understand that novels like The Hunger Games are given similar age demographic ranges, a better understanding of what makes the book appropriate for that age would have been helpful.

I feel that more information about content would also have been helpful considering some of the physical characteristics that the reviewer highlighted. While information about the cover art was omitted, the fact that the novel is 496 was included. A nearly 500-page novel does not necessarily correlate with what the average twelve year old chooses to read. More insight into the difficulty of the language, and the type of content or violence portrayed in this action novel would have been beneficial.

I felt the review would have been helpful for someone that had not physically interacted with the book in the way that I had. More information could definitely have been included that would have helped paint a better picture of the novel and its suitability for different age demographics. Overall I felt that the review hit many of the points the CM review considerations outlines – but not necessarily in the way that I would have liked.

This is a novel that I will definitely be trying to read in the near future. I look forward to being able to see what I may have done differently and how I would present this novel given the limitations I felt this review had.

Quite a few blogs have also reviewed or discussed Braken’s novel. If you’re interested you can check out the additional links below:

The Book Smuggler

YA Bibliophile