Young Adult Arc: Genre Blends (5/22/18)



Discussions:  We are studying a three-meeting arc of Young Adult Fiction. 

The first arc was Relationship Stories;  the second arc was GLBTQIA.  The third arc is Genre Blends. NOTES_Submitted by Diane Giarusso

Assignment: Everyone read the benchmark: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

See other titles in this category below. 

For appeal, please focus especially on character, frame (time & place), and tone. Please track genres.

Young Adult Arc Appeal Summary: 1/18 to 5/18

The NE RART delved into three Young Adult topics—Relationship Stories, LGBTQIA, and Genre Blends.

The most important RA appeal factors for YA are:

CHARACTER: Emotionally accurate and authentic characters. These characters are representative of the age group publishers have designated.

TONE: Angst and snark; humor

STORY LINE: Engaging and relevant to the age group issues.

All three have to come together for a really successful and attractive YA read. This implies that story line, tone, and setting work very closely together in tandem with character. But character is primary and every other appeal supports her/him.

Often the genre or blend dictates a more prominent role for frame but setting still takes a backseat to the importance of the primary character or characters for the YA reader.

Thank you to group members who participated in the illuminating discussions and creation of this summary.

Leane Ellis, August 27, 2018

RESOURCES posted on Google Group: McArdle, Megan M. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Blends. 2016. ALA. 209p. assorted

Also see Resources for Cart, Chance, & Corbett from 1/23/18 Arc: Relationship Stories & Cart: GLBTQIA from 3/27/18


This list is representative – not exhaustive.

Anstey, Cindy. Love, Lies and Spies (2016) His/Rom/Intrigue

Bowman, Erin. Vengeance Road (2015) 1st duo Wes/His/Intrigue/Rom                                     

Bray, Libba. The Diviners (2012)) 1st trilogy His/Fan/Hor/Rom                                                                                             

Clare, Cassandra. Clockwork Ange (2010) Infernal Devices series. Mys/His/SteamPunk/Fan                                                                             

Crilley, Paul. The Lazarus Machine (2012) Tweed & Nightingale Adventures, His/Fan/Intrigue                                                             

De La Pena, Matt. The living (2013) Survival Adv/Bio Horror

Heilig, Heidi. The Girl from Everywhere (2016) 1st duo His/Rom/Fan/Intrigue                                                                    Hopkinson, Nalo. The Chaos (2012) Spec/Thriller

LaFevers, Robin. Grave Mercy (2012) Fair Assassins series, His/SF Dys/Thriller/Rom                                                                                      Lu, Marie. Warcross (2017) SF/Sus//Gaming/Rom

Ness, Patrick. Knife of never letting go (2009)  Sus/SF Dys /Paranormal

Older, Daniel Jose. Shadowshaper (2014) Cypher series, Sus/UFan/Paranormal                                                              Okorafor, Nnedi Akata Witch (2011) 1st duo Fan/Mys/Sus                                                                                                       

Pratchett, Terry. Dodger (2012) His/Fan/Adv 

Ritter, R. William. Jackaby (2014) Jackaby series, His/Fan/Intrigue                                                                               

Scalzi, John. Lock In (2014) SF/Mys   AF for YA

Sedgewick, Marcus. Midwinter blood (2012) Rom/PARANORMAL Fan

Sharpe, Tess. Far from you (2014) Mys/Rom/COA/GLBTQIA

Soria, Destiny. Iron Cast. (2016) His/Fan/Intrigue

Stiefvater, Maggie. Raven Boys (2012) 1st series, Fan/Mys/Sus                                                                                          

Strasser, Todd. The Beast of Cretacea (2015) Classic Adv/SF  

Swendson, Shanna. Rebel Mechanics: All is fair in love and revolution (2015) Alt His/SP Mag Fan/Rom/Adv 

Tarquini, Mindy. Infinite now (2017) His/Fan/Paranormal

Thomas, Sherry. The Burning Sky (2013) Elemental Trilogy, His/Rom/Fan                                                               

Trent, Tiffany. The Unnaturalists (2012) His/Fan/SP

White, Kiersten. In the Shadows.(2014) Fan/Hor/His  Art by Jim Di Bartolo

Elective titles

Beth Safford

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
Appeal Factors: Character-driven, flawed characters, emotionally intense, fast-paced, suspenseful, dark humor

The Knife of Never Letting Go is book 1 of the Chaos Walking trilogy, written by Patrick Ness. It begins in a dystopian world in which there are no women and the men have been infected by a germ that forces all their thoughts to be constantly broadcast in what is called “The Noise.” Todd Hewitt is the protagonist; he is a young boy on the verge of becoming a man (which happens when you turn 13 in his settlement). He and his faithful dog, Manchee, are forced to flee their settlement, where they encounter Viola, the first girl Todd has ever met and part of a wrecked spaceship sent to colonize the planet. The story is fast-paced and suspenseful and Todd is sympathetically drawn and appealing. The author has added touches of dark humor throughout the story and Manchee, the talking dog, is adorable and totally true to what you’d imagine a dog is usually thinking: mostly about eating and going poo. The constant plot twists and cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the next book in this well-written and thought-proving series.

Jerusha Maurer

Dread Nation – Ireland, Justina
Appeal Factors: Culturally Diverse, Strong Female, Emotionally Intense, Historical Details

Jane McKeene was born 2 days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg derailing the Civil War. Safety for all relies on the work of a a few and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act that require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the white well-to-do. When families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

Michelle Deschene

The Disappearances – Emily Bain Murphy
Appeal Factors: Character; Tone; Setting; Pace

Every seven years, something disappears from the small town of Sterling, Connecticut. Scents, the stars from the sky, reflections in glass and water—gone. The Disappearances are a fact of life for residents, but for Alia Quinn and her younger brother, Miles, they pose a dangerous problem.

Alia’s deceased mother never mentioned Sterling, or the Cliffton family, with whom Alia and Miles are sent to live after the US enters WWII and their father is drafted into military service. The move is hard enough to bear, and knowing that her mother kept secrets from them only serves to make all of it worse for Alia, who can’t help but notice the stranger aspects of her new home, or how fast her heart beats whenever Will Cliffton smiles.

Sterling’s secrets begin to unravel as the next Disappearance day draws near. Alia is shown pouches filled with Variants, dust-like substances that were developed to recreate things that were lost, and she learns that the townspeople’s open hostility towards her and Miles has to do with their belief that her mother is to blame for the curse they live under.

In order to clear her mother’s name and to stop another thing from disappearing, Alia engages Will and a few of her new classmates in a desperate search for the curse’s true catalyst.

This novel blends historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery, and not only did I love every single page of it, I wanted even more than was given. From the start I was charmed by the writing; each chapter delivered evocative details that made me feel as though I was actually living in town, like I was in each room eavesdropping on conversations and observing reactions firsthand.

Though Alia is the main point of view character, brief journal entries written by the antagonist are peppered throughout. Each entry lends insight into his backstory and the urgency of his motivation, which in turn heightens the tension and suspense. It’s possible younger readers will be initially confused by the inclusion of these entries, but they should have it figured out after encountering a few of them.

Of all the things I loved about this book I loved Will Cliffton the most. Will, who was taken with Alia from the beginning, who helped her overtly and in secret, and whose smile revealed an endearingly crooked tooth. Everything about him and the sigh-worthy progression of the romance made my world go a little soft at the edges. Every scene he appeared in and every sentence he was mentioned in became one I immediately re-read. How quickly Alia and Will developed feelings for each other will no doubt make some readers raise a disbelieving eyebrow, but I was hardcore there for it, along with the lovely relationships Alia forged with a couple of her classmates and with the elder Clifftons.

It’s not a perfect book, but that won’t matter to readers who fall under its spell.

Alyssa Staples

Lock In – John Scalzi
Appeal Factors: Elaborate world-building, fast-paced page turner, very technical at times (appeal or turnoff)

This books is a Sci-Fi/Mystery genreblend, but heavy on the sci-fi and light on the police procedural/ mystery. Set in the near future, a virus breaks out worldwide, infecting over a billion people. The virus manifests as a simple flu in most cases, but in some cases, roughly 5 million people in the US, the flu progresses to meningitis-like symptoms and ultimately paralyzes the sufferer within their body. These locked in people become commonly known as “Hadens.” Hadens still participate in the physical world by using “threeps,” which are essentially robotic bodies that they control with their mind. Chris Shane, our protagonist, is a Haden who uses a threep and is the newest agent of the Washington D.C. FBI unit. His first day on the job, he gets called to a murder. The rest of the plot follows Agent Shane and partner Leslie Vann on their hunt for the killer, while exposing a corrupt and greedy underbelly of politicians, scientists, and engineers.

Pretty evenly paced. The plot carries on very quickly, so quickly in fact that many scenarios seem a little “set up” and lack authenticity. However, it’s the kind of book where you don’t have too much time to dwell on that since we’re on to the next crime or mystery or clue on every page.

The book struggled w/ characterization, as it took a backseat to world-building. The book is mostly dialog which furthers the plot at the expense of any real emotional connections between the characters. Interestingly, Scalzi purposely did not assign a gender to the protagonist, Chris Shane. He never once uses identifying pronouns and even had two versions of the audio recorded, one by a female voice actor and the other by a male. Scalzi said the idea behind it was that people who use threeps wouldn’t conform to any of the gender markers like clothing, hair, makeup, etc. and that their relationship with their physical bodies would be so different than non- locked-in people.

There are a ton of things to unpack with this book. It discusses politics and government assistance vs. privatization, equal rights, disability, gender, effects of colonization on Native populations, and more. The fact that it crams so many hot topics into the book, on top of the incredible amount of world-building and exposition that needs to be done, can make it a little shallow at times

Near future America, Washington D.C. Aftermath of worldwide virus outbreak.

Humorous banter between characters, lots of sarcasm. . It gets lost in a few technology-heavy descriptions that can be a little overwhelming for the average reader.

Very accessible apart from the technological descriptions. Dialog-heavy, a little clunky.

Leane Ellis

The Burning Sky – Sherry Thomas
Appeal Factors: CH/FRAME/PACE

Successfully weaving High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance,, and espionage, this book is a good example of genre blending. 16-year-old Iolanthe Seabourne has been kept hidden her whole life because of a prophecy that she would destroy the Bane, a powerful mage and tyrant who rules the Realm. The teen would be happy lying low, but Prince Titus has spent his life training to avenge his family and restore power to his throne, and he is determined that she fulfill her destiny. The fun begins when Titus brings Iolanthe to real, non-magical Victorian London-and pressures her to enroll in Eton College with him disguised as a boy for her own safety. Though Iolanthe is initially furious at Titus, romance quickly begins to crackle as they plot how to save the Realm.

Multiple tropes–of heroic quest, Victorian fantasy, fractured fairy tale, boarding school story and doomed romance—form a ravishing narrative. The novel’s two alternating viewpoints, three worlds and four distinct magical systems are all masterfully explained through delicate pros. The plot is somewhat predictable within the context of High Fantasy but entertaining enough to forgive that. The secondary characters run the gamut from expected to truly nuanced. Iolanthe may seem too perfect–beautiful and powerful and brilliant–but her snarky independence and self-awareness give her depth. Almost a stereotype, Titus’ status, talent and good looks are less compelling than his boyish vulnerability and tortured determination. Too often in fantasy, characters can seem mere puppets of fate. Here, the ending is true to their choices, with a satisfying happy-for-now resolution that whets delicious anticipation for inevitable sequels. The first in the Elemental Trilogy caters to very specific tastes, but teens and adults in the target audience will devour it. Fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter or Jim Butcher’s Calderon series are possible readers.