By Jan Pease
What makes a book stand the test of time? Will books that are new in 2012 still be around in 2062? I poked around on the Internet, and discovered that, according to goodreads.com, “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” by Roald Dahl, and “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats were published fifty years ago. They are still enjoyed today. Young adults looking for something deliciously frightening, were reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury, and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” by Shirley Jackson, in 1962.
Young adults, like older readers, are reading a multitude of paranormal adventure and romance stories. In fifty years, might this group of books be considered classics from the golden age of the paranormal genre? You never know.
“Anna Dressed in Blood,” by Kendare Blake, introduces a hero who kills murderous ghosts. His mother is a witch and his cat can sniff for spirits. I don’t really understand how someone kills ghosts, but it’s an interesting premise. This book was also chosen as one of the 2011 Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year and was one of NPR's Top 5 Young Adult Novels of 2011.
“Every Other Day,” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, has a heroine with a difference. She is a normal, somewhat antisocial teenager who changes into a heroic monster hunter every other day. This novel of extreme self-discovery somehow finds room for evil scientists, romantic vampires, zombies, a cheerleader, and even an FBI agent.
“Bloodrose,” by Andrea Cremer, is the final book in the “Nightshade” series. Reviews on amazon.com show that readers either loved or hated this book, which is about a pack of wolves that were once humans. Or maybe it’s the other way around. The “Nightshade” trilogy includes “Nightshade” and “Wolfsbane.”
Veronica Roth has invented a really unusual version of Chicago, in “Divergent.” In Ms. Roth’s Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. Our heroine, Beatrice, renames herself Tris, and discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society. The second book of the series, “Insurgent,” will be published later this year. This series is recommended for fans of the “Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins.
“Strange Angels” is a very popular series by Lili St. Crow. Several young adult readers suggested her novels for purchase. The titles in the “Strange Angels” series are “Strange Angels,” “Betrayals,” “Jealousy,” “Defiance,” and “Reckoning.” The series focuses on a half-vampire slayer who takes on various monsters while sorting out her romantic life.
In 1962, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden reigned as heroines of teen series. Gertrude Warner was writing the original “Boxcar Children” books, and Beverly Cleary wrote “Henry and the Clubhouse.” Will these books, with their violence, adult language and paranormal themes seem equally quaint in fifty years? If you have a crystal ball, let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll see you at the library!