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Friday, October 29, 2010

Public Sky [1]

Where YOUR opinion matters, fellow book lovers!

When you visit Borders, Barnes and Noble, Indie bookstore or about any other stores that sell books, in the teen (or adult) section, you see books about vampires, werewolves, mysterious creatures and stories that involves danger that thrills the readers. What are your thoughts on this? Why do you think that teenagers these days (okay, I'm a teenager myself, but still) somehow prefers stories similar to Twilight over...say, The Catcher in the Rye (by J.D. Salinger)?

First, I want to explain that I did not asked this question because I dislike paranormal stuff. I like them, but the shelves are just covered with it. Everything gets predictable and to be blunt; a BIT boring because I like reading varieties.

So here are the answers! (It's by chronological order; whoever answered me first got to be on the top of the list. I just copied their answers, did not shorten or lengthen anything). Comments or email me for your thoughts about either Public Sky and the question above! :)

CATHERINE RYAN HYDE (Author of Pay it Forward)
I think it's a way of coping with the fact that the world is a frightening place. This is what they always say about kids and "Little Red Riding Hood" type stories and about adults who watch horror movies. If you're anxious in a non-specific way, it's comforting to watch someone face a very identified danger and triumph over it. Personally, I'm not very interested in such titles. I prefer to read realistic fiction.

WENDY TOLIVER (Author of Lifted)
Yes, paranormal romance is really big right now, and all you have to do is visit a bookstore to see that. I personally believe this is because teens like exploring imaginative, exciting and dangerous characters, settings and situations. That said, I get emails almost every day thanking me for writing something "real," and when I reach for a new book to read, I don't care whether it's about vampires or someone who could very well go to your high school, as long as it keeps me turning the pages. A good book is a good book, simply put.

JENNIFER HER (A senior in high school and an awesome artist at DeviantArt)
Teens are interested in those kinda vampirey stories because of the forbidden romance or the thrill of the romance. I mean, that's what I think is a huge factor for high school girls or teenage girls. Then there's the out of the ordinary factor. Teens don't always or, should I say, prefer to have a thrilling, imaginative, and/or fictionally interesting plot rather than read a slow going (still fictional) story about normal teenage problems like Catcher in the Rye. That undergoing teenage problems stuff can also be found in any of the fantasy-ish books nowadays focused on young adults. So basically, modern books now that many teenage kids like to read are out-of-the-ordinary interesting, imaginative, keeps the readers focused on popular key factors like romance, and take readers away from reality, kinda.

CINDY RANGEL (A writer and blogger of Bookworm)
I'd say it's because of the suspense and drama that there is to those kind of books with danger in them. They're the kind of books that keep you at the edge of your seat, keep you guessing. Of course, also, each author is different and each author, I'm sure, does something to make their books interesting and individual. =)

ELENI XEKARDAKIS (Blogger of La Femme Readers)
I don't necessarily believe teens choose Twilight over the classics. It just so happens that the classics will always show up in classrooms. So, why not escape homework with a good cup of Edward and his sparkling face? Being a 25 year old English graduate, I unfortunately grew tired of the classics. Teachers would make you dissect the book until you no longer wanted to see it in front of you. However, literature such as the The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders or Mice of Men will again remain classic. The messages and well-written quality will be hard to re-create. However, the relatable factor to the characters now a days just isn't there. We live in a world of cell phones, social networks, e-mail, television, etc. These books unfortunately lack the technological and word lingo we use today. Mainly, that's the reason why SOME teens prefer to pick up Twilight or any other supernatural novel instead of a respectable classic.

AMY HUNTLEY (Author of The Everafter)
Thrillers (and the paranormal) have a really long tradition. I think they're especially popular today because everything in our world is so, well, "explainable." Science has eliminated a lot of wonder and awe from the universe. While we love the effects of technology, the paranormal can help us escape into the unexplainable.

KHADIJA FRAIJI (Blogger of Black Fingernailed Reviews)
Well, i personally don't like 'Twilight' at all. The 'vampires' had too many characteristics of mythological fairies and instead of say.... 'vampires'. However i've always been drawn to the paranormal elements in stories, i think part of what makes it so appealing is the otherness. We all want something amazing to happen to us, i think teens are so drawn to vampires and werewolves not because their monsters but because they are something different, from the repetitive romance stories, i think it brings more edge into it. And edginess is always appealing.

JENNIFER MURGIA (Author of Angel Star)
To answer your question, and as an author of speculative fiction myself (Angel Star is about well .... angels!) I truly think there's a part of each and every teenager wishing a little bit of magic exists in the world. When I was a teen, I used to imagine the what-if's. What if vampires existed? What if I were a descendant of an infamous witch? The thoughts would constantly churn and churn and I think it stems from each person wanting to believe they are special, that for one moment no matter how brief or bizarre, we are here for a reason. Seeking out books with a paranormal element instead of realistic issues gives us an outlet to escape into a world unlike our own - and with permission. In one way or another books help us express ourselves, and allow us to step away from our daily routine. To live in a world we deep down wished existed is a gift!

KRISTINA MCBRIDE (Author of The Tension of Opposites)
I think the magic, mystery, and intrigue of these novels hold quite an allure for younger and older readers alike. It's a wonderful way to escape our own reality for a while. Plus, the super-cool covers just call out from the shelves!

JANETTE RALLISON (Author of My Fair Godmother)
When Catcher in the Rye first came out, it was a groundbreaking book because it was edgy, raw, and showed the discontent and disillusionment of teens. (By the way, I read the book as a teen and couldn't relate at all.) But now we have so many of those types of books that you can't walk through a bookstore without tripping over them. So I think teens now are looking for an adventure not a psychological analysis. Paranormal gives readers that adventure.

AMI BLACKWELDER (Author of The Hunted of 2060)
In response to your question, its funny you ask because my parents and I were discussing the same thing. My father says growing up he and friends loved Sherlock Holmes, Nancy drew, Hardy Boys, detective stories and books with kids solving crimes. But today, kids are enthralled with paranormal and we wondered what happened? Why did a switch from the real to the unreal occur and why did interesting books switch from being stories that encouraged rational/deductive reasoning to stories that revolve around thrills and romance?

I tend to think one of the reasons is of course media, and publishers themselves. Everyday we are bombarded with television and video game images. Most conjuring up the idea of the fantastical. Throwing the supernatural in our faces daily supports the idea of its popularity. Kids are easily influenced and want what is popular and cool. Buffy the Vampire and Angel as well as Charmed helped that idea along.

Publishers do the same thing, releasing primarily paranormal YA books today versus detective or crime solving stories for kids. This may have stemmed from the success of Harry Potter and Twilight and the story definitely pushed the paranormal world into the mainstream for publishers. As an author I can tell you honestly that there are many, many publishers who simply want paranormal romance YA novels. Forget other interesting books. Because they know they paranormal YA sells. If the product is all around you, the stories are bound to rub off on many kids.

Another reason is that kids are faced with many pressures today that our parents were not faced with and the kids are being spoiled and not taught how to cope with real life. In turn, kids turn for an escape and want to enter a world more entertaining and forget their worries and woes if only for a week of reading. Escape is a great motivator. But the fact that kids are reading to acquire this instead of doing drugs or alcohol is a great thing! I support that healthy way of fleeing from reality.

Perhaps also because times have changed as well. There is such a focus on sciences and maths for that matter in this day and age, that kids must feel overwhelmed with all the facts and so this release of enjoying the supernatural, or the opposite, must be stimulating. Kids are imaginative and perhaps a deep part of them longs to remember that creative part of themselves, holding onto their childhood for just moments longer when anything was possible and they could be anyone.


  1. glad to have u back! send me an email when you have time (it regards to our uh story....i hope u dont get mad)
    btw glad ur readng charlie st. cloud! ur gonna love it for sure =)

  2. Great list of books based off teenage problems you've got. A few of those are my favorites.


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