Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Teen Menu

Welcome to the July edition of the Teen Menu. I hope you're all having a great summer full of wonderful reading and popcorn movies.

Unless you've been living under the world's biggest boulder, you probably know that June was big in the world of Twilight fans. Eclipse, the third in the movie series, released to a big take at the box office. But before that, an Eclipse-related novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, hit bookstores.

In the novella, we get to see things from an entirely different point of view, that of Bree Tanner, one of Victoria's newborn army of vampires created to take revenge on the Cullen clan. Since we normally just see things from Bella's point of view in the Twilight stories, it was interesting to see the events leading up to the Newborns/Cullen fight scene in Eclipse from a newborn's point of view. And it wasn't quite what I expected. It wasn't a completely bloodthirsty viewpoint, though we definitely get to see how the powerful bloodlust of newborn vampires consumes them and causes them to turn on each other. Other than the vampire thing, Bree Tanner is just a teenage girl from a bad home who ran away and managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even once she's turned, she retains much of her humanity. She begins to fall for a guy (Diego, a fellow newborn), makes an unexpected friend (a vampire named Freaky Fred who has the added power of being able to repulse the other vamps, which has benefits for both him and Bree), and gradually realizes that Riley, the vampire who turned her, is hiding things and telling lies, ones that will have huge costs in the end.

If you've read Eclipse, you know that the newborns don't survive the battle, so we know going in what Bree's fate will be. But getting to that eventuality was an interesting read. I felt for Bree, found myself wishing her fate could be other than it was. I still have hope that we'll see more of one vampire from the novella (one not in Eclipse). I'll leave it at that because I don't want to give it away.

An extra feel-good tidbit is that $1 from each hardcover copy from the first printing of Bree Tanner sold in the U.S. is being donated to the Red Cross.

After finishing the novella, I was off to see Eclipse. Bella and Edward's relationship continues to progress, but not without some hiccups in the form of the intense friendship-with-the-possibility-of-more between Bella and Jacob. Bella's choice is between the cold and fair Edward and the very warm and dark Jacob. There are pros and cons to both, but we all know that Edward is the one she's given the bigger portion of her heart to. But she loves them both, and that's not easy -- particularly since they're mortal enemies.

It was interesting to watch for Bree Tanner (played by Jodelle Ferland) in the movie and see how much they showed her and how it compared to the novella.

I felt like uttering a fangirl squee with how much more screen time Jasper gets. I've been a Jasper fan from the beginning, and in this installment we get to see more of his background -- as we also do for Rosalie. It makes them more three-dimensional, shows us who they were before and why they are the way they are now.

And the battle scene was awesome! Yes, I'm a girl, and I like battle scenes. Ask me about the ones in the Lord of the Rings trilogy sometime. :)

The other YA novel I read this month was Richelle Mead's Frostbite, the second in her Vampire Academy series. I read Vampire Academy some time ago, and I enjoyed it enough to keep buying the books (there are five so far). But I just got back to the series recently. So many books, so little time. The protagonist, Rose Hathaway, is still studying to be a guardian at St. Vladimir's Academy in Montana so that she can learn to protect her friend, royal vampire Lissa Dragomir. Rose is a Dhampir, half human and half vampire, and thus she's one of the ones who'll be charged with protecting the Moroi, the good, living vampires, from the Strigoi, the bad, dead vampires. I really enjoy all the mythology Mead has built in her vampire world, including the twelve royal Moroi families who all seem to have last names that sound Russian or Eastern European. And it wouldn't be a YA novel without some teen angst thrown in. There's the sudden reappearance of her uber-guardian mother, a woman who has been largely absent from Rose's life; her continued forbidden attraction to her guardian tutor, Dimitri Belikov; and a series of deadly Strigoi attacks that threatens to turn her world and everything she's ever believed upside down.

Mead's series has attracted a large following, which has propelled the books onto the New York Times best-seller list and recently resulted in a deal for the movie rights.

For more information on Mead and this series, visit her site.

Okay, back to movies. It is summer, after all. I went to see The Last Airbender yesterday. Unlike Eclipse, I didn't come to this movie with prior knowledge of the source material, an animated TV series called Avatar: The Last Airbender that ran on Nickolodean for three seasons. Understandable why they chose to not include the "Avatar" part in the movie title. Confusion, anyone?

I know some fans of the TV series haven't liked the movie, so I think it was actually a plus that I hadn't seen the program. I enjoyed it and look forward to sequels, which they obviously intend to make based on the last scene in the movie. Young Aang is the Avatar and the only airbender left in a world where other benders can manipulate only a single element -- fire, water, or earth. But the Avatar can control all four and is supposed to use this power for good and balance. For reasons I won't reveal, it's not as simple as it's supposed to be. But then, if it was we wouldn't have a movie, would we?

I like the basis of this story, the world in which there are benders of elements, and appearances by three actors I particularly like: Dev Patel (loved him in Slumdog Millionaire), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper in Twilight - squee! Wow, he's having a big summer) and one of my favorite correspondents from The Daily Show, Aasif Mandvi.

Now that I've seen the movie, I'm going to go back and watch the TV series and see how it compares.

So, anyone read or seen any of these offerings? Read anything wonderful this summer?


  1. Hi, Trish. Thanks for another great teen helping.

    I read TWILIGHT and it just didn't appeal to me. So, I've not read the others and the movies don't seem to interest me. I know, I'm the loner on this opinion. My sister, who never reads books like TWILIGHT, is absolutely mad about the series and the movies. (Really, I about fell over when she raved about the books. She usually only reads Christian romance.)

  2. Deb, you're not totally alone. I know there are others for whom Twilight does nothing. But then there's my 13-year-old niece who is not a reader. She doesn't like to read. But so far she's devoured (for her, at least) the first two books in the series. It's a minor miracle.

  3. Hi Trish!

    Thanks for another terrific Teen Menu! Sounds like you're having an enjoyable reading & watching summer so far. I haven't gotten into the Twilight books but the teens and tweens in my life rave about them. One of these years, when I find some free time, I need to give them a try. *g*

  4. They haven't called to me either, Deb. At least, not yet.

    Trish, I'm all for anything that entices young people to read!

  5. Trish, you've had a busy summer already! My youngest is a HUGE fan of the Twilight books and movies, so of course there has been much excitement over the new movie. She loved it more than the others, which is saying something.

    She is also a huge fan of the Avatar series and has been waiting for the movie. She hasn't seen it yet, but I'm expecting to be hit up any minute now. *g* She has been re-watching entire seasons in preparation. She's worried that Dev won't be hot enough or conflicted enough to play the Prince. We shall see!

    I haven't read the Twilight books (though I tried the first one). I would have loved them as a younger woman, but now that I have grown kids, it makes me roll my eyes. Nothing ever seems as epically tragic once you pass 40. Certainly not a vampire war (sorry, girls!). That said, I would have been the first in line to buy or see new releases of this series 20 years ago and it's fun to see how seriously my teenager takes it. Oh to be young and oh-so-emotional once again!

  6. Trish, your comment about your niece is similar to what I'm hearing from my girls about friends who "never read" reading these books. Also friends at church are astonished by the nieces/daughters/granddaughters who are actually reading because of the Twilight series. Always a great thing!

  7. Thanks, PJ.

    LOL, Caren. The teen and tween girls do really tend to get into the series and the whole Edward/Jacob debate. I think it has spawned a lot of book series where there are two potential love interests, and there's that question of who the heroine will choose.

  8. The teen and tween girls do really tend to get into the series and the whole Edward/Jacob debate.

    Trish, that's certainly the case with the 15-yr-old in my life. She and her friends are firmly divided into Edward/Jacob camps and the discussions are lively, to say the least! lol! Like you and Caren mentioned, many of my teen's friends who never read before are now devouring the Twilight books and others of the same ilk. It's wonderful to see!

  9. PJ, the entire Edward/Jacob debate has even made it into a spoof movie coming out next month called Vampires Suck. It's from the people who did Scary Movie, Date Movie, etc. The debate is reflected in the last scene of this trailer:

  10. Hi Trish -

    I read Twilight maybe two years ago? I liked the book and especially the pacing. I can see how it could hook a reader. But I didn't like it enough to read the rest of the series, or see the movies (sigh). I'm not a big vampire fan - which knocks out a lot of books for me (sigh).

    Haven't seen the Last Airbender but the special effects on the promo material looks awesome!

    I read an awesome young adult earlier this year, but I don't think it's a new one - Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I was dipping my toe into young adult and have to say I really liked it.

  11. Another great monthly blog, Trish! If you want to see all the Avatar: The Last Airbender shows from the series, we have them. My oldest son was knee deep into that show and we have all the DVDs which were released.

  12. Donna, the effects in The Last Airbender were pretty cool. And funny you should mention Along for the Ride. I reviewed that one last month. :)

  13. Buffie, what a sweet offer. But last night I noticed that I can stream all of the episodes via Netflix, so I'm going to do that.

  14. Hey, Trish! Thanks for another great Teen/YA column!

    I've not read any of the Twilight books, though my sister and several others tell me that I must. Honestly, I saw the first movie and it didn't inpire me to want to read them. Perhaps I'll change my mind after I see the second movie.

    My husband and son plan to see The Last Airbender on Tuesday. They both enjoyed the cartoon, so I'm anxious to hear how the movie compares.

    Love the cover for Frostbite!

  15. Andrea, I think the Twilight movies have gotten better each time. I feel much the same way about the Harry Potter movies. Oh, speaking of which, have you all seen the new trailer for part 1 of Deathly Hallows? Can't believe I forgot to include that link this month.

  16. Trish, I have all the Twilight books, but haven't read them yet. I've seen the first two movies, though, and will be going to see Eclipse tomorrow afternoon with my daughter.

    I have to say, I find Jacob very buff and good looking--makes me feel a little cougarish since he's the same age as my oldest son. ;-)

  17. Gannon, LOL on being a little cougarish. I just tell myself that "I would have liked him when I was a teenager." :)

  18. Trish Milburn said: Oh, speaking of which, have you all seen the new trailer for part 1 of Deathly Hallows?

    YES!! I can't wait for November and part one!!!

  19. LOL, Gannon! I still see him as Shark Boy....

  20. LOL on Shark Boy. I haven't seen that movie.

  21. LOL, Gannon! I still see him as Shark Boy....

    LOL, Andrea! I *used* to think that until I saw the trailer with him standing up against the car sans shirt. Then I started to feel like Gannon ;-)

  22. Hi! I've read all the Twilight books, and managed not to throw any of them out the window, but have so far refused to watch any of the movies. What I like about the Twilight series is the back story/mythos that Stephenie Meyer came up with (they're not really werewolves). However, since I dislike both Edward and Bella, I just can't stomach the idea of watching hours of them on screen. Yes, I, too, think of the series as the "Cedric Diggory and Shark Boy movies".

    As for the Vampire Academy books, I've read the first two and then gave them up. I could take only so much of teen angst, vampiric or otherwise, at a time (the same reason I dislike "The Vampire Diaries" and P. C. Cast's House of Night series). I love Richelle Mead's adult fiction though.

    I love the cartoon, "Avatar: the Last Airbender" but, when I heard that the movie will be live action, I decided not to watch it. Now there's all that brouhaha about the lack of Asian actors in the film (considering that all the characters in the cartoon are supposed to be Asian - the various elements are written in Chinese, for crying out loud). What's more important to me is that the reviews have been horrible and the trailers have not assuaged my fears of bad special effects.

    On the upside, "Toy Story 3" is excellent and the short, "Day & Night" really ought to be seen in 3D.

  23. Andrea, Shark Boy and Lava Girl was on TV not long ago, and when I saw Taylor Lautner in the commercial, I thought "What a baby." That's not what runs through my mind when I see him as Jacob. LOL

  24. I haven't had a free moment to go to the movie yet this summer and don't know when I'll get one. I will rewatch TWILIGHT and NEW MOON before going to see ECLIPSE. I'll probably take the two girls who babysit for my grandson. I have read the series, but not the new book on Bree. Will get it when I have a chance.

    I picked up 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher which will be my next YA read.