Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Real Teen Answers: BOOKS!

Here are the rest of the answers to your questions from Friday. Our teen spies and analysts talk books! (Yesterday, they answered about teen life, click here if you missed it.)

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What makes you really roll your eyes when you're reading about teen romance?

Alyssa: Insta-love, definitely. It’s ridiculous. Oh, and all those cheesy lines – “I’d die for you” in a paranormal romance, or “you’re the only one.” Lines like those make me sick.

Katie: The idea of a teen romance most of the time makes me roll my eyes. I’m not a romance girl.

Lennon: I don't. I think that reading is an escape. So when things are unrealistic it's just part of the game. But certain things are over-the-top like guys being all mushy and crap. The sweetest thing in the world is for a guy to quote Shakespear, but no high school guy ever does. So when that's in a novel, it's sweet but kinda stupid.

Lynsay: Honestly probably the whole "butterflies in the stomach" scene. I know it happens, but that is probably the most cliche way to say it.

Laura: Extended eye gazing, shiny-edge love interest with dark, hidden corners the protagonist tries to “clean” or fit themselves into, the shepherd-and-lamb relationship (e.g. “shepherd” boy is pushy/insolent/abusive, yet “lamb” girl still follows him), or intimate scenes loaded with purple prose (nobody’s full, pink lips, scented like Spring roses and shaped like a Christmas bow, feel like the sun-kissed skin of a peach). Really, I could go on until another 10 books are published with the exact same contents. YA Romance books have made me fear getting a boyfriend. I don’t want to cuddle up to a marble statue, with rock-star eyes, and a lethally sexy smile that, you know, infest every high school on Earth. Chances are he has also just jumped out of your Classic Mythology textbook, but it’s okay, he glitters like that Tiffany pendant you wanted for your birthday.

Erica: When it’s instant love or when the guy is a complete jerk to the girl and she stays with him, despite having a really great guy rooting for her from the sidelines.


Do you feel you can relate to (or just admire/like) older characters in YA novels? (Parents, teachers, mentors, siblings in their 20's, etc.)?

Lennon: Sometimes. Like I've been saying it depends on the book and the characters. Like To Kill a Mockingbird for example, I love, love, love Atticus Finch. I wish I had someone like that in my life. Levelheaded yet kind and goodnatured. But in others, all I feel is irritation.

Lynsay: I would probably say it is less relating to them and more just admiring them and appreciating their addition to the story.

Alyssa: I don’t really care for teachers/parents in YA – they usually come off preachy or annoying to me for some reason – but they are crucial and should be there. I’d connect best to older siblings, although they are rare precedents.

Katie: I see older characters in YA like people in my personal life, if that’s what you’re asking.

Erica: Definitely, in some books I actually relate to the older characters more.

Gracie: No, not in any of the YA books I’ve read so far. (Although I loved Mara’s brother Daniel’s character in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, that was the best sibling I’ve seen in awhile). Also you don’t really see a lot of present siblings in YA, which sucks, I think, because siblings are awesome. ☺


I get that teens don't want to be preached at. How do you feel about scenes where alcohol is served but the MC doesn't drink. He never says anything about it. He just doesn't drink.

Lynsay: I would be fine with a scene where the main character doesn't drink because that's how I would be. I don't look at that as someone trying to force their message on me.

Alyssa: I admire characters like that, honestly, and I don’t really think of it as preaching, especially if there IS alcohol in the picture somewhere. Still, I’d find it a bit ridiculous if the MC is friends with a bunch of drinkers/smokers/stoners and they don’t participate – that’s really stretching my imagination.

Katie: I’m proud of the main character for being a good example but if he or she doesn’t drink I don’t like it when he or she puts themselves in a situation that surrounds them with it. It may be to tempting, then if they drink it I’ll be disappointed.

Laura: While I’ll mentally high-five the MC for being all straight-edge and awesome, I really don’t care about why they don’t want to drink. Great, I’m glad you don’t endorse underage drinking, but you’re not 35 so stop saying that you feel like you are. It’s just annoying when characters give us readers long, winded lectures like a parent saying, “You drink, your brain cells die, and you can kiss college goodbye”. How are we supposed to relate to this character when the author is acting like a mom?

Lennon: I've actually never read anything where the Main Character doesn't drink in scenes like that. I mainly read fantasy or paranormal and the books I've read that have stuff like that in them, the main character always drinks. But if I did, I can imagine I could relate. I wouldn't drink if offered at a party just because that's simply how I was raised. I'll drink after I'm twenty-one.

Erica: That is fine. Things like that only bother me when it’s preachy and it’s obvious the author wants to get across DO NOT DRINK.


Also, are you interested in contemporary books?

Katie: If they are written right I am.

Lennon: Yes, indeed I am.

Alyssa: Contemporaries are my favourite types of novels. I can connect best with them, they usually can touch a deeper part, and they help with issues. They’re sort of comforting to me, because whenever I have a bad day I know I can pick one up (my go-to book now is Looking for Alaska by John Green) and can pick out some advice, or reasons to keep looking forward.

Laura: This may raise the eyebrows of my reader friends who know what a FREAK I am when it comes to sci-fi, but contemporary books are my biggest guilty pleasure. I devoted my early teen years to devouring every Dessen book published, I lick my lips in greedy anticipation at the mention of a new Pretty Little Liars release, I jumped through hoops to track down Jessi Kirby’s May debut, and I was practically foaming at the mouth when Amy Reed announced that she’s writing a new book. Contemporary: the genre we hate to love.

Gracie: I LOVE contemporary, they are such beautiful books. Melina Marchetta does contemporary beautifully. Although sometimes death is a little overdone in contemp. Well, not so much overdone as like… it’s always presented the same way, which gets boring.

Erica: Yes – I love contemporary as much as I love paranormal and fantasy. There are not enough unique contemporary lately I feel like.


Do you notice what tense a book is written in?

Katie: Yes.

Lynsay: Yes I do. I think the tense really matters to the story.

Lennon: Yes, I do notice. I prefer past tense but I'm fine with pretty much anything. This isn't really about tense but what annoys me and some people I know, is when the author uses things like "You are blank blank blank" like you are the main character and it's annoying. It can work and that is how I write some of my shorter works but it's annoying when it doesn't flow.

Alyssa: I used to never, but lately, I have. I’ve picked up that most YAs are in first person present, and a large chunk are also in first person past. I’d like to see more third person, I guess, but never in contemporary books. I have a very hard time connecting to a character in a contemp if they’re in third person.

Erica: Yes, I always notice that.


What are things (themes, tropes, etc) you see in books that you feel might be slightly overdone?

Alyssa: Bitchy cheerleader/popular girl (although, they were well done in all novels by Courtney Summers). Disappearing Parent Syndrome. Love triangles. Insta-love. Geek falls in love with popular kid/jock. Plain Janes/Mary Sues. The bad boy.

Lennon: Nothing to me is really overdone. Each writer has their own style and something different to bring to the table so nothing is ever completely re-done.

Katie: I don’t think themes have been over done, just plots.

Erica: Boarding school books are starting to be slightly overdone. They still are among my favorites, but lately I feel like more and more of them are getting to be a lot of the same.


And, similarly, what would you like to see in a YA novel that you don't usually come across?

Alyssa: More world-travelling! I want to read about teens in places not commonly written about. I’d like to read from more male POVs, especially in contemporary books. I want to see more high-fantasy!!!

Laura: A great coming-of-age novel has been missing from the YA scene for a while now. They are still being written, yes, but none really capture me and wrap their papery fingers around my very heart and soul like Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall or any of Sarah Dessen’s various and heart-warming works. Being a teenager is all about finding yourself, sometimes it nice to read about how others do that.

Lennon: Some things are not done enough, like horror and things like Crash into Me or By The Time You Read This I'll Be Dead. Also I don't see a lot of gay and lesbian romance. I don't care that much but some of my friends are gay and don't really have anything written about that. I don't think I've ever read I book that has had any gay or lesbian romantic interest. It's annoying because girls and guys who like the oppisite sex get romances about girls and guys together. Why should girls and guys who like the same sex have romances about girls and girls together or guys and guys together.

Katie: Good appropriate horror books (still in a Halloween mood).

Gracie: More siblings! And more interesting characters. I’m starting to see a lot of bland characters that aren’t unique at all, and they are so boring, and don’t have any real story behind them at all.

Erica: I love seeing unique paranormal creatures or basically any situation that hasn’t been overdone. I think more books with mermaids or creatures like that would be great.

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Aren't our teen spies/analysts fabulous??? And if you've thought of another question, or missed the post to ask it--don't worry. We're making this a monthly feature :)

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