Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Teen Menu

YA News

Big casting news! Jennifer Lawrence, who was up for an Oscar this year for her role in Winter's Bone, has been cast to play Katniss Everdeen in the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games. Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are Alright) has been cast as Peeta Mellark, and Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) is in as Gale Hawthorn. The Hunger Games is set to hit theaters March 23, 2012.

Variety recently reported that Fox 2000 is busy buying up the movie rights to several young adult novels. Among them are the excellent The Book Thief and Incarceron. Taylor Lautner has been attached to the latter.

Last month, I reviewed Sarah Mlynowski's Bras and Broomsticks, the first in her Magic in Manhattan series. Recently, I came across news that this series has been optioned for TV by Nickolodean.

Film rights to Veronica Roth's Divergent, the first of a dystopian trilogy that doesn't even hit bookstores until next month, sold to Summit Entertainment (makers of the Twilight movies).

Summit Entertainment must be in a YA-buying mood because they also recently acquired the rights to The Immortals, Alyson Noel's paranormal YA series, as well as the middle-grade spinoff, The Riley Bloom Books.

TV rights were sold to Sarwat Chadda's Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess.

Voting is currently under way in the Children's Choice Book Awards. Through April 29, young readers can vote for their favorite books, author and illustrator at bookstores, schools, libraries and online at Winners will be announced on May 2 at a gala during Children's Book Week (May 2-8). There are several categories for children's books, but the two categories perhaps of most interest to The Teen Menu readers are:

Teen Choice Book of the Year finalists:

Burned (House of Night, Book 7) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Fang (A Maximum Ride Novel) by James Patterson
Mockingjay (the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Book 5) by Richelle Mead
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Author of the Year finalists:

Cassandra Clare for Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1)
Suzanne Collins for Mockingjay
Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
Stephanie Meyer for The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Rick Riordan for The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1)

YA Reviews

The Maze Runner by James Dashner was one of those books I'd heard a lot of buzz about but hadn't gotten around to reading. So recently I took the audio version of the book on a road trip to Texas, and it helped pass the long miles of interstate. Before listening to this book, I didn't know it was the first book in a series. I'd gone into it thinking it was a standalone, but as I got closer to the end it became obvious there was no way everything could be tied up in the short amount of space. As it turns out, the second book in this dystopian trilogy, The Scorch Trials, is already out too. Yes, call me clueless. :)

At the beginning of The Maze Runner, a boy named Thomas awakes in an elevator with a bunch of other boys looking down at him from outside the top of the elevator. Disoriented and unable to remember his last name or any details about his life, he finds himself in what the boys call the Glade. This area filled with a forest, farmland, farm animals, and a few buildings is surrounded by four massive stone walls. In the middle of each of these walls is a large door that opens at the same time every day, allowing the "runners" to go out into the surrounding maze to try to find a way out. At night, these doors close to protect the Gladers from the monsters that roam the corridors of the maze. These boys, none of whom remember their last names or pasts, have created a society in which each person is assigned duties. Thomas doesn't understand why, but he has a deep desire to be a runner, even though it's the most dangerous job available.

Some of the Gladers grow suspicious when their predictable life (when supplies arrive in the elevator, how the Glade's environment works, etc.) starts getting unpredictable. The arrival of yet another new Glader, one who seems to have a connection to Thomas, throws the Glade into further upheaval. Thomas believes something bigger is going on, that perhaps the Gladers are part of some sort of experiment but he doesn't know why. Part of his struggle is to convince the other Gladers to trust him, and part is to figure out if it's better to stay in the Glade or to find a way out, back to an uncertain outside world that some Gladers are convinced is horrible.

Many Teen Menu readers have asked in the past for recommendations for YA books for boys, and I think The Maze Runner is an excellent choice.

I've since read The Scorch Trials, the sequel. Look for that review in a future edition of The Teen Menu.

James Dashner's website.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis has nothing to do with the 2007 film of the same name. Instead, it is a wonderful YA tale set against the backdrop of space. Seventeen-year-old Amy leaves Earth with her parents, her scientist mother and military father, bound for a new planet dubbed Centauri-Earth. Since it's a 300-year voyage, they are cryogenically frozen. The ship, Godspeed, is an enormous vessel, a city in and of itself. It's a generational vessel, meaning that generations of descendants from the original crew will be at the helm until the arrival on Centauri-Earth.

When someone deliberately unfreezes Amy fifty years too early, she's faced with more than the fact she can't be refrozen. The people on this ship don't look like her, don't talk like her. They don't even act like humans sometimes. While dodging Eldest, the ship's authoritarian leader, she tries to unravel the web of lies fueling this new ship society and deal with the feelings she's developing for Elder, the boy her age who was born to be the ship's next leader.

I am really looking forward to the sequel, A Million Suns, that should be out next year.

Beth Revis website.

I picked up Beastly by Alex Flinn after I heard about the movie adaptation coming out. And I'm glad I did. While the movie version was entertaining, though by no means a great movie, the book is really good. It has the detail and gradual story development that the movie lacked. I honestly think the movie could have been improved by the addition of 30 minutes.

The contemporary retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale is presented from the Beast's point of view, and the Beast is rich, popular and gorgeous high school student Kyle Kingsbury. But Kyle realizes all those things are fleeting when a witch classmate casts a spell on him, turning him beastly. In the movie, he's bald and covered with scars and tattoos, probably not to totally cover up Alex Pettyfer's appeal to the female audience. But in the book, he's more of the classic hairy beast.

The witch gives him a set amount of time to find someone to love him for his new self, someone who can see beyond his beastliness. He finds that person in the most unexpected place.

This is one of those books where you can truly see character transformation, and not just on the outside. You go from thinking Kyle is a jerk to feeling sorry for him (his dad is the true beast, in my opinion) to rooting for him.

I enjoyed this book so much that I'm planning to read Flinn's other fairy tale retellings, Cloaked and A Kiss in Time.

Alex Flinn's website.


  1. Wow! Lots of great info, Trish! I've added three more books to my "to be bought" list. They all sound amazing. Thanks so much!

    You mentioned you thought The Maze Runner would be good for boys. Is there an age range you'd recommend? I'll soon be looking for a birthday gift for a (mature for his age) nine year old. Do you think he'd be too young for this?

  2. I was unsure if I would read Beastly, but now I know I will. Thank you.

  3. Thanks Trish! I'm thrilled with the Hunger Games becoming a movie. My son LOVES the book and I'm just getting started reading it. It is very hard to put down.

    The other books sound great. I will definitely be picking up Across The Universe. This is not a story I would have chosen without reading this review (if that helps any...grin...). You have definitely caught my interest.

    Will also send The Kid over to vote. He'll think that's pretty cool.

    Thanks for sharing this!


  4. Hey there, Trish! Thanks so much for the latest news on YA movies and TV. I had heard about The Hunger Games casting, but not the others. Since I liked the sound of the book Bras and Broomsticks and I love Nickelodeon, I'll definitely be checking out that show. And I'm going to check out the awards and get my votes in.

    I'm so glad to hear that Beastly is a good book! The movie looks good, but if you say the book is better, then I'll have to check it out. :)

    Thanks, Trish!

  5. Hi Trish!
    I didn't even know that Beastly was a book until I read this blog. I always like books better than movies, so I'll have to check it out! :)

  6. Trish, talk about a great rundown of the YA world. All those movie adaptation? I've got genre envy! Apart from the Barbara Cartlands, I can't think of many adaptations of historicals. Must say I love the sound of the Beauty and the Beast story!

  7. There are so many good books out there for teens. What a great time to be a teen reader. Great. too, for us who like to read teen fiction.

  8. Sorry I'm so late! I lost track of what day it was. Eek.

    PJ, it's possible this would be okay for a mature 9-year-old. It does have some death in it, so perhaps depending on how you think he might take that.

    Marybelle, I hope you enjoy Beastly. I really enjoyed the book.

  9. Tami, hope you enjoy Across the Universe. I really liked it and am very curious what will happen in the next book.

    Andrea, Beastly the movie was okay, but the book was wonderful.

    Trisha, I think you'll really enjoy the book. Let me know what you think.