Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Real Teen Answers

On Friday you asked a lot of really awesome questions! And I have so many responses for you from thirteen of our SPIES and ANALYSTS that we're sharing answers to book related questions today and the rest on Friday!

Book Related Questions

Why or why don’t you like dystopians?

GRACIE: I really enjoy dystopians. I think it's a creative and unique way of critiquing things that are wrong with our own society today. They make you think, and my favourite kinds of books are books that make me think a lot.

LEXIE: I like dystopians that actually fit the definition of the genre: not just a novel set in a futuristic society, but a novel that makes a comment on society today.  That's one of the main reasons I so enjoyed The Hunger Games; it wasn't set in the future solely for the sake of the plot, or to fit in a trend.  It made real, cutting commentary, had multiple layers and multiple interpretations. I loved that.

The main reason I don't like many dystopians today is that they often feel as if they were written for this market.  The world-building is sometimes shoddy, sometimes completely nonsensical, and sometimes nonexistenent.  They follow a certain, general plot.  It's frustrating.  However, it also increases my appreciation of good, genuine dystopians when I chance upon them.

ERICA: I generally don’t like dystopians, as I always find them lacking something. The dystopians I do like generally don’t dally about with slow world building and instead just throw you right in the world, which I think comes from my genre of choice being fantasy, since with fantasy world building is typically done well very quickly. I think it’s a combination of the slower world building and something else I still haven’t exactly pegged yet that overall turns me off to quite a few dystopians.

LYNSAY: I like dystopian literature because it is usually very interesting, and I think it can teach you something about society and people.  Normally it includes stuff that I never would have thought about.

EMILY V: In some ways I think it's because it's like a foreshadowing of what could happen in the future, and it's kind of terrifying but fascinating at the same time. 

RANDI: I like dystopias if they're done well. Books like Divergent and The Hunger Games are worlds that are very different but have startling similarities to our own. They tell really cool sort of moral stories if done well.
However, books like Matched and Wither, which I enjoyed to a degree, I feel are abusing the Dystopia label because they're skirting around what could be some really cool political/moral commentary, in my opinion.

So yes to Dystopias, if they're built solidly. Although I'm taking a break from reading them right now. 

LISSA: I like dystopians because their ideas could potentially be reality. Our societies change as time passes and monumental events happen, and that dystopians reflect that, and what very realistically MAY happen, is very interesting to me.

RIV: I am entirely sick of dystopians. As original as some are, they aren't. You can call it a District, or you can call it a Faction (I know, totally different), You can have your job chosen, or your husband, or you mind. But at the end of the day, they're all the same exact formula. Controlling society, rebellious teen girl, hot guy. They blend together in the end.
(Note: There is one exception to this rule--the awesomeauceness of The Hunger Games. And also, post-apocalyptic novels are still completely amazing and different than dystopians. Originality!)

EMILY C: I really love dystopians! Seeing different peoples ideas of what might happen in the future, or what could’ve happened if the world had formed differently. It gives me something to think about.
CHIHUAHUA ZERO: I'm neutral toward them. To admit, I read them because they're around, and they're speculative fiction. I wish there's more variety in them (ie, love triangle, set-ups, etc.), but it isn't a big deal for me. While some of them (like Matched and Legend) read like typical mainstream "stuff", others (like Divergent and Unwind) are standouts among the crowd.
 In Matched case, I might be a little unfair, but Divergent set my expectations for that book too high. When I picked up Matched, I expected something more...edgy. More dark, less white-washed, less romance-y...more unique. I'd say that only the premise is unique, while it's pretty much played straight for the rest of it. A sixteen-year-old female protagonist with a 1st person present tense POV, an obscure history, creativity and individuality being squashed, the typical best friend/mysterious friend love triangle, the first steps toward rebellion being made, and even the phrase "The Society" being used, being only one step from "The Government", which is corrupt.

It was an enjoyable read, but it shows why some people love dystopians to death, while others hate dystopians to death. It's the very definition of "mainstream YA", with both its best elements, and its worst.

The third book of the trilogy is on my watchlist, but it's far from top-piority.

LAURA:  I like dystopians because they generally run at a faster pace than other books and need an intelligent writer who has done their research to make the story a success. Of course, not all dystopians are going to deliver, but I haven’t been disappointed thus far!

I recently heard of a strange trend in my area. Do you read in order to appear smarter to family or friends, and if so, do you look for simpler titles or reading styles in order to make it easier to do?

LYNSAY: No, I just read for enjoyment or to become smarter, or for English class, not to appear smarter.

LAURA: Oh, wow. This is really a trend? How sad. I do not read for these purposes. I’ve been reading my whole life and don’t use it as that kind of…tool. I can see why others might but it still hurts me to think that people wouldn’t read by choice simply because they enjoy to.

ERICA: I read for me, not anyone else, so what I am interested in completely dictates my reading

CHIHUAHUA ZERO: That's a strange trend. I read in order because it makes sense. I might sometimes pick up a later book in a series because it caught my eye, but I would often go back to the first book and read from the bottom-top. I also don't think about if a book is in a series or not when looking for a book. If it's a book, it's a book. Some books just stand alone.

RANDI: That's just sad. I read because A) I like to and B) sometimes I need a little break from reality, not to appear smarter. I do, however, know a lot of people who read Shakespeare or "classics" in order to appear smarter or more hipster-esque. Although if you asked them the plot to Hamlet, they probably couldn't tell you. 

LEXIE: Um . . . no.  To be honest, I don't think anyone who was so invested in reading or writing that they'd join an online community for it would be the type to read only so they might appear more intelligent.  However, if you're asking whether I've seen someone else doing this, the answer would also be no.  The people I know either read because they genuinely enjoy it, or they just don't read.

GRACIE: No, I don't read in order to appear smarter. I read because I like it, plain and simple.

RIV: My go-to answer when asked if I've read the likes of War and Peace or Moby Dick: "I haven't read it, but I've lectured on it."

LISSA: That’s an odd trend! I read because I love books and everything to do with them, and reading to appear smarter just seems weird to me.

EMILY V: Psh... no! I read because I enjoy it.

KATIE: That’s an interesting trend. I don’t read in order to appear smarter  to family or friends, I read to be smarter and because I enjoy reading.

EMILY C: I don’t. I just love to read, and I always have. My family and friends know me as a bookworm , and perhaps it makes me seem smarter, but I don’t read just to look smarter.

Have you gotten a chance to read translations of YA from other countries (or YA from other English-speaking countries), and if so, what did you think of it?  Was it better or worse than American YA?

RANDI: Well, I read a lot of British authors, but I've also read Inkheart, which is from Germany, and another book called The Water Mirror, also German I think, that were translated. Both were pretty good fantasies, although you have to keep in mind that this was translated, and that's why some things don't sound as smooth as they would if they were written in English.
ERICA: I have read some Australian and English YA and I didn’t think it was any better or worse than American YA. The one thing I would say is that it can sometimes take a bit to get used to, with the different slang terms and sayings people use in other countries.

GRACIE: I haven't really read any YA from other countries, unless you count YA from Canada. To be honest I find non-American YA really refreshing sometimes simply because there is so much American YA, so it's nice to read something different.

KATIE: I’m currently reading a translated YA book. Some of the wording is different but otherwise it’s not that much different than American YA.

CHIHUAHUA ZERO: To me, country doesn't matter when I'm reading YA. As I said above, a book is a book. A British YA book doesn't have any different standard than an American YA book, except the fact that I got the chance to see it around. Sometimes though, when I'm reading a book that had been translated in another language, I wonder what changed in the translation process.

EMILY V: Yeah, I've read a few translated books (not really YA though). I don't think it makes that big of a difference. I enjoyed them.

RIV: I am trying really hard not to start in on the obvious. Because once my Harry Potter spiel begins, it will never end... I have this strange love of Aussie lit, even though I've barely read any of it. Writers down under seem to have this weird, awesome power to be really cool and write amazing books. I think it's the kangaroos.

I once picked up a Mexican book translated into English, but I had absolutely no patience to get more than three pages in. I think books lose their magic upon translation.

And because I couldn't wait to share the answers to this question...

What is your weapon of choice? 

RANDI: My awesome powers of deduction. Or Loki's staff thing from The Avengers.


RIV: Medieval longsword. Or, in English: a sword. I'm not a katana fan, though. Longbows come in close second, with crossbows falling in third. I don't like guns though.

Bonus of swords: You don't run out of bullets when the zombie apocalypse arrives.

KATIE: My weapon of choice is… duck tape!

CHIHUAHUA ZERO: Real weapon? Colt Revolver. Just need to learn how to use one, and I'll have a weapon that exists since the late 19th centary, and still works today, with present models.
Non-serious weapon? A hardcover book! Beware, I have a 500, and I'm not afraid to use it!

LEXIE: Hmm . . . gonna have to go with an old-fashioned dagger.  Easily concealable, not too hefty or awkward, just as deadly, and more fitting for my style.

EMILY V: A sword, I guess. Though a bow and arrow would be pretty awesome too. 
ERICA: Weapon of choice…I’m kind of a clutz so any sort of weapon in my hands is probably not too great.

EMILY C: Love! (Sorry, I am reading Harry Potter). If I had to choose a weapon, I would probably pick bow and arrow. Namely because that way I don’t have to been close if I have to kill somebody, and it isn’t as loud as a gun.
LISSA: I’m anti-violence.

HUGE thank yous to our spies and analysts and thank YOU for asking such awesome questions. I'll be back Friday with teen thoughts on leg shaving, letter writing, and Monty Python. Also, if you've thought of another question, or missed the post to ask it--don't worry. We'll be back with another ask-a-teen feature next month!



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