“The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but, beyond that, YA stories span the spectrum of fiction genres. Themes in YA stories often focus on the challenges of youth, sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels.Writing styles of YA stories range widely, from the richness of literary style to the clarity and speed of the unobtrusive and free verse.”
- The subject matter should reflect age and development by addressing their interest levels, reading and thinking levels.
- The content should deal with contemporary issues and experiences with characters adolescents can relate.
- Subjects can relate to dealing with parents and adults, illness and death, peer pressure with regards to drugs, sex, and the complications of addiction and pregnancy.
- The content should consider existing global concerns such as cultural, social, and gender diversity; environmental and political issues as it relates to adolescents.”
Using Classic Situational Archetypes in the Classroom
A partial list of classic situational literary archetypes as comprised by Herz and Gallo in two separate editions of their book, From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges between Young Adult Literature and the Classics. The Young Adult Novels are paired with Classic Novels based on situational archetypes.(Herz and Gallo, 66-70).
Presents the main character in a conflict. Through pain and suffering, the character’s spirit survives the fight and through a development of self-awareness the main character is reborn. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn / Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Fall: Expulsion from Eden
The protagonist takes a journey, either physically or emotionally, that brings meaning in their life. The Crazy Horse Electric Game by Chris Crutcher / The Odysseyby Homer and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
The Test or Trial
The main character experiences growth and change; he or she experiences a transformation. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Permanent Connections by Sue Ellen Bridgers, Dancing on Dark Waters by Alden Carter, and Driver’s Ed by Caroline Cooney / The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
Annihilation; Absurdity; Total Oblivion
In order to exist in an unbearable world, the main character accepts that life is “absurd, ridiculous, and ironic” The Giver by Lois Lowry / Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr..
Parental Conflicts and Relationships
The protagonist deals with parental conflict by rejecting or bonding with parents. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, Midnight Hour Encores by Bruce Brooks, Ironman by Chris Crutcher, and The Runner by Cynthia Voigt / Ordinary People by Judith Guest, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
The Wise Old Woman or Man
This figure protects or assists the main character in facing challenges. Phoenix Rising by Karen Hesse, Memoirs of a Bookbat by Kathryn Lasky, Jacob I have Loved by Katherine Paterson, and Remembering The Good Times by Richard Peck / To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
The main character leaves his or her community to go on an adventure, performing actions that bring honor to the community. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher and Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff / A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.
The Sacrificial Redeemer
The protagonist is willing to die for a belief; the main character maintains a strong sense of morality. Harry Potter by J K Rowling, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins,The Chocolate War and The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Robert Cormier / Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and Antigone by Sophocles.”
“So making a feature film from a popular book is seen on the surface as a financially wise idea. What makes it bad for authors? For one thing, success tends to breed imitation, and imitation stifles innovation. The YA genre has been obsessed with magic and superstition for over a decade now, not simply because the supernatural is an easy allegorical fit for the loneliness and confusion of teenage years, but because authors and publishers have been trying to clone the trends for it started by Harry Potter, and continued with Twilight. In its glittery wake, especially after the films, came a slew of books about teenagers and vampires – Google ‘teen vampire fiction’ to get an idea of just how many.”
“While some imitators have been exceedingly popular none of them have managed to emulate the billion-dollar ‘book to film’ model for success. But success isn’t really the point here: it’s that trying to copy the success of a handful of massive sellers within Young Adult has led to an homogenisation of the genre, to the point where it’s now seen as a world of strong-but-angsty teens and supernatural powers (just browse your local bookshop’s YA section for proof), when it should be as diverse as the people reading them.”
“Writers’ and publishers’ desire to imitate the success of a handful of books has led to more original ideas being overlooked.”
“To treat YA literature as a breeding ground for movies and merchandise and the ‘Next Big Thing After The Next Big Thing’ not only feels horribly wrong, but its in danger of destroying a vibrant genre full of great writers and wonderful stories. It also does a disservice to its young readers by treating them like idiots and giving them second-rate, half-baked stories. And those young readers need good stories, because they’re the next generation to be writing them.”
“If you read the papers at the time you’ll know that it was a book that was practically genetically engineered to be turned into a film. It was created by Full Fathom Five, a publishing company which aims to produce books specifically so that they’ll be marketable: create a series of books, be adapted into movies or TV, and generate revenue through merchandising.”
“It was widely reported that the film for I am Number Four was already being shot before the book was even finished and published. But that’s not even the most unbelievable part. According to a brilliant article (seriously, read it) in the Wall Street Journal, Dreamworks and the scriptwriters for the film actually asked the book’s writers to change things in the book so they worked and looked better in the film!. Changes included putting in some new weapons that the aliens could use, and changing the book’s finale to a football field rather than the woods, which were seen as not dramatic enough.”
“For Mr. Frey’s new venture, Full Fathom Five, the author oversees lesser-known writers as they develop fictional ideas into books that he then markets to publishers and film studios. Its first offering, “I Am Number Four,” is a young-adult science-fiction thriller about an alien who comes to Earth as an Ohio teenager. It was published in August and hit the best-seller list. Michael Bay brought the project to DreamWorks Studios, where partners Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg acquired the film rights after reading the book, with Mr. Bay as producer. Starring Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron and Timothy Olyphant, the film will be released in February, DreamWorks’ first offering since it severed ties from Paramount and became independent, with its movies distributed by Disney. ”
“Frey didn’t invent the packaging business: Creating young-adult projects and tailoring them to a variety of platforms is the fashion now: Alloy Entertainment has shown the health of this intellectual-property niche with its development of “Gossip Girl” and “Pretty Little Liars.” But Mr. Frey has been particularly aggressive: he only develops ideas that have serial book potential, as well as obvious film, TV, merchandising and digital marketability. In business about 18 months, he has 28 writers working on 27 book series.”
“To find writers, Mr. Frey trolls writing classes and other writers’ gathering places. Writers contracted with Full Fathom Five earn no salary and make almost no money up front (they get $250 upon signing and another $250 upon completion of a book—”Chinese-food money,” one author called it). They are promised 30% to 49% of all revenue whether it comes from videogames or publications rights.”
” Since June of 2009, Full Fathom Five has sold three series, representing 10 books—all young adult and all to HarperCollins (which also published Mr. Frey’s 2008 mostly well-reviewed best seller, “Bright Shiny Morning”). In addition to the “Lorien Legacies” series, of which “I Am Number Four” is the first of four for HarperCollins, the company three weeks ago sold a three-book series called “The Montauk Project,” about a teenager who discovers a time machine and a shuttered military base on the tip of Long Island. HarperCollins offered an advance of $225,000. The first book of “The Other World Chronicles,” a modern-day adaptation of the King Arthur saga, is slated to come out in the winter of 2012. Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment is preparing a possible film version of the first book, starring Mr. Smith’s son Jaden, according to William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, which sells Full Fathom’s projects.”