For the Teen Who’s Read Everything…

Everything, being, of course, a relative term.  It might be comfy to stay in the YA section of the library, but with a little encouragement and a lot of pepped-up booktalking, you can move teens into adult fiction.

Confession time: when I was a teenager approximately one million years ago, I was too cool for young adult literature.  I thought it was all kissing and dating and more kissing and I wasn’t into that (I’m still not, but I’ve certainly educated myself!).  I didn’t think they were “real books,” which is idiotic, but please remember that I was a teenager.  This means that I simultaneously thought I knew everything and actually knew very little.  So I followed my Austen obsession and burrowed deeply into rather obscure books like The Monk by Matthew Lewis and Evelina by Fanny Burney.  I discovered Dickens’ wicked sense of humor in Bleak House and his sense of social justice (caveat: yes, he was a white Anglo male) in Hard Times.  I didn’t want that teen stuff.

Until I did.

Then I read ALL THE YA THINGS.  A lot of it I didn’t like, but a lot of it I LOVED!  I thought, “Penza, what were you doing all those years?  Why weren’t you reading this?”

But now I’m often faced with the opposite problem.  Reading YA is now a Cool Thing to Do.  Teens read YA.  They go to blockbuster films based on their favorite YA books.  They write fanfic on Wattpad and have friendly fandom wars.  This is not the YA of my youth.  And some kids have read all the Hot New Books that are out.  They’ve ravaged our readalike displays and they’re saying, “Now what?”

Pssst, let me tell you a secret.  Just because you’re a teen librarian or you work with teens does not mean that you can only promote, booktalk, or recommend YA literature.  If you happen to say, “Well, I really love Mercedes Lackey for fantasy…” the Teen Book Harpy will not drop out of the sky and start giving you forty strokes across the back.  Yes!  Move them into “adult” fiction!  Teens who love conspiracies and action and science will love Michael Crichton!  How about Robin McKinley’s take on vampirism in Sunshine after someone’s finished Twilight?  And if someone loved Patrice Kindl’s Keeping the Castle, bring them back to the roots of that book with some Austen and Brontë.  Neil Gaiman’s books are a home run any way you look at it.

However, if you’re still a bit unsure, why not try taking a look at the Alex Awards given out by ALA?  These are books that have crossover appeal.

Here’s a mini booklist of titles that I think would work great for teens who are just looking for something different to read:

The Emperor's Blades For teens who can’t wait for the next season of GoT (but this has way less icky stuff in it).  Also: an elite fighting corps that uses giant birds of prey as their means of transport?  Yes, please.
Redshirts I am in no way, shape, or form a Trekkie.  However, this is seriously one of the funniest and most clever books I’ve read in a long time.  It’s just a romp of a good time.
Rebecca A mysterious English estate, an ominously possessive housekeeper, and the haunting death of the first Mrs. de Winter will satisfy the most rabid fans of social intrigue and romance.
N0S4A2 Supernatural bridges in time and space, the epitome of evil in a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and everyone’s favorite horror setting: the abandoned amusement park.  Oh, and just casually let it drop that Hill is Stephen and Tabitha King’s son.

Which adult titles do you find yourself recommending to teens?




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