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Tuesday, 09 August 2011 01:19

August Teen Releases

August brings the heat with eighteen new Teen titles filled with witches, ghosts, superpowers, and re-imagined tales.

Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink—the conclusion to Zink's trilogy that began with Teen Read Awards-nominated Prophecy of the Sisters and continue in Guardian of the Gate.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab—If there are no strangers in the town of Near, then it stands to reason a stranger would be responsible for the disappearing children. But what if he isn't? What if the Near Witch is real?

Never Have I Ever by Sara Shepard—The second in The Lying Game series.

Thirst 4: The Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike—The final book of Pike's Thirst series finds Alisa battling the immortal Telar.

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay—What if Romeo tried to kill Juliet to remain forever young? What if Juliet was granted immortality as well, and the two of them have been battling over souls of true lovers for the past 700 years?

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan—A dystopian Sleeping Beauty... Rose is woke by a kiss to discover everything she knows is dead and she is thought to be the heir to an interplanetary empire.

The Margrave by Catherine Fisher—Fourth in the Relic Master series.

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles (Aug 16)—The newest of the Perfect Chemistry novels.

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Aug 23)—Vampire Academy may be finished, but there are still tales to be told. This brand new series is set in the same world as Vampire Academy, but follows the alchemist Sydney. Also available on Aug 23 is the new Vampire Academy graphic novel!

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (Aug 23)—the highly-anticipated sequel to I Am Number Four.

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (Aug 23)—A retelling of Hansel & Gretel...and also the companion novel to Sisters Red.

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel—(Aug 23) The stunning first volume of Kenneth Oppel's new trilogy about a young Victor Frankenstein. You can read our review of it here.

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E Pearson (Aug 23)—the long-awaited companion to The Adoration of Jenna Fox, which remains one of the best-written and thought-provoking teen sci fi titles.

Hades by Alexandra Adornetto (Aug 30)—the sequel to Halo.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendra Blake (Aug 30)—Sarah Rees Brennan raved about this title on Twitter. Cas Lowood kills the dead. He's hunting a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood who kills everyone who encounters her... except for him.

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley (Aug 30)—Ryder swears the red witches who protect the valley are frauds, scamming the villagers for tithes. But fate conspires for him to confront the witch he swears has no powers... only to discover he is the subject of all her prophecies.

Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry (Aug 30)—The sequel to Rot & Ruin.

Fury by Elizabeth Miles (Aug 30)—The cover is beautiful, Lauren Oliver is saying we'll love it, and it's about the Furies exacting vengeance. I'm sold.

Published in Teen
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 23:25

Teen Summer Reading Series: Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is the author of ten novels for teens, and she's one of the major players in contemporary teen fiction. It's hard to find someone who has never read one of her books. Her latest novel, What Happened to Goodbye, released in May of this year.

Given that Melanie Fishbane is an avid reader of and passionate advocate for Sarah's books, I bowed out of this interview to let the resident expert handle it. Thanks Melanie for the questions, and please welcome Sarah Dessen!

Indigo Teen Blog: In What Happened to Goodbye, Mclean is building a model town with her friends. Towards the end of the novel, she takes one last look at it and starts seeing all the places she's been...when you think about this being your tenth book and how you've essentially created two very unique places, Colby and Lakeview, I wondered if this was a way for you to look back at what you had created?
Sarah Dessen: I actually hadn't thought about that, but you're right! It is very similar. I loved the idea of Mclean, a person who for the last few years has had no roots and no real place, finally seeing that she's part of something bigger than just herself and her own life. I'd actually had the idea for the model town for years, as I'd seen something here in Chapel Hill similar to it when I was a kid and never forgotten it. I love the idea of the world in miniature. It makes things seem simpler and more complicated, all at once.

ITB:  How do you approach handle writing about difficult subject matters?
SD: I think you just have to do it. My books tend to be really messy in progress: it takes me a while to figure out exactly what I want to say, and then how to say it. It's often the third or fourth time I'm going over a scene that I get it right. I've also found, after ten books, that the more I obsess/worry/think about my writing before I sit down and do it, the worse of a time I have. It's like I psych myself out or something. Ideally my subconscious brain is figuring things out while I'm grocery shopping or trying to get my kid to eat her vegetables. Then, when I sit down to work, it just comes together. That's a GOOD day, though. There are plenty of bad ones!

ITB: Recently, you wrote an article for Cosmogirl about the "not-so-perfect-boy" and on your website, there is a chat group devoted to the boys in the novels. What do you think it is about your guy characters that is so attractive to your readers?
SD: I think when the boy isn't perfect, you don't feel that you have to be either. In high school, I was never into the most popular or best looking guys at my school. Quirky and funny was much more interesting to me, and I guess that's still true on the page as well. It's so much more fun to write someone who is offbeat, and I think the fact that I'm having fun makes the character even better. Plus, I do get to crush on a new boy every book, which is a nice bonus.

ITB: What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
SD: I've just recently discovered an author named Jonathan Tropper, and I've been busy finding and devouring his back list. One of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner, has a new book just out as well that I can't wait to get my hands on. I jump around a lot between genres and fiction and non-fiction. And I am a serious magazine addict. I basically stand by my mailbox and wait for my US Weekly to arrive. It's my guiltiest of pleasures.

ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
SD: I remember one summer, when I was in college, I read Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides. I just fell into it, reading for hours at a time. It riveted me, and when I was done I went and read everything else he'd done. I have the best memories of that experience, just stretched out on the couch under the ceiling fan on those hot, hot days, lost in his stories. I did the same thing another summer with Anne Tyler's books. I love finding an author who has published a lot of novels and just going on a tear through all of them.

ITB: Describe your ideal summer day.
SD: It would probably be spent at the NC Coast, with my family. Sleeping in, coffee on the deck, then reading by the pool or beach. Shrimpburgers and onion rings for lunch, LOOOONG nap, more beach time after. Apps and drinks, then an early dinner and a good DVD. Oh, you are KILLING me with this question. I wish I was there right now!

ITB: Summer eats/treats you can’t live without?
SD: Well, my love of deviled eggs is well documented. They ARE summer to me, although sometimes I cheat and make them before May or after Labor Day. Also, as mentioned above, shrimpburgers, which are fried shrimp mixed with a bit of cocktail and tartar sauce, served on a hamburger bun. Oh, my goodness. And then there's ice cream. But I eat that year round. You have to!

Thanks to Sarah for answering our questions and Penguin Canada for setting up the interview.


Follow our Teen Summer Reading Series:

Kelley Armstong

Moira Young

• Kieran Scott

Maggie Stiefvater

Veronica Roth

Scott Westerfeld

Sarah Dessen

Libba Bray
Published in Teen
Monday, 01 August 2011 04:35

Spotlight on Viz Manga

Attention manga fans: All the Viz titles in store are 20% from August 1st to September 11th!

There was a great introduction to manga post on the Fiction blog by Otaku Mer, but I thought I’d just elaborate a little on what was said.

When I lived in Japan, working as a children’s foreign language instructor, I had access to all the manga—and couldn’t fully understand any of it. Needless to say, I’m very pleased we now have so many titles translated and readily available in English.

I love manga because I enjoy the stories that are told in it. Japanese culture is interesting, but some times the most interesting titles are the ones that appropriate Western concepts. I like seeing ideas familiar to us through the filter of another culture.

Most manga creators are both the writer and the artist of their series. If the series becomes popular enough, the mangaka may employ assistants to help them with background images and such. I love visual stories and I’m so impressed by the skill of those who make a career of it. If that interests you as well, there’s a manga series about being a mangaka called Bakuman that you should check out.

Basically, there are two kinds of manga: shonen (boys) and shojo (girls). All the genres you find in YA prose exist in manga and some of them exist in both shonen and shojo titles. The difference is that shonen titles tend to be more plot/battle-driven and shojo titles tend to be more character/emotional-driven. Boys read shojo titles and girls read shonen titles.

My favorite manga, Rurouni Kenshin, is a shonen historical fiction title that has a romantic element to it. (Its full title is Rurouni Kenshin Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story.) I used to own it in the individual volumes—all 28 of them—but I recently repurchased it in the Viz Big Editions. If you’d like to save space on your shelf, the Viz 3-in-1s are totally for you.

Popular Viz shonen titles include Bleach, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Blue Exorcist, Death Note, and One Piece. All of these, except for Blue Exorcist because it’s relatively recent, are prolific and long-running series with plenty of volumes available.

I’d recommend Fullmetal Alchemist to any fantasy fan, because it’s a great series that’s almost finished releasing in English.

Fullmetal Alchemist is about the Elric brothers: Edward, the elder, and Alphonse, the younger. The Elric brothers lost their mother to an illness when they were young and committed the ultimate taboo of attempting to bring her back to life through alchemy. As a result, Ed lost an arm and a leg and Al lost his entire body—his soul is bonded to a suit of armor. The series follows their quest to regain their bodies, and evolves into a complex story about family, corrupt government powers, religion, and science. Also, it has a diverse cast and shows characters with disabilities in a positive light—being an amputee doesn't keep Ed from kicking butt!

Popular Viz shojo titles include Vampire Knight, Black Bird, Ouran High School Host Club, Skip Beat, Natsume’s Book of Friends, and The Gentleman’s Alliance.

I don’t read a lot of shojo, but one of the ones I keep looking at is Ouran High School Host Club. It’s a high school comedy series about a girl going to a school who breaks a valuable vase belonging to the mysterious “Host Club” and incurs am $80,000 debt to the club. To work off her debt, she dresses as a boy and works in the Host Club with the other six boys. The series is about their relationships and the crazy hijinks that a girl masquerading as a boy inevitably causes.

The 20% off Viz titles is a great deal—and it’s the perfect time to get into a long-running series or take a chance on a title you’ve been eyeing.

Published in Teen

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies was one of the first teen dystopian novels I read, and it continues to set the bar for what a really great dystopia does. Scott Westerfeld writes smart books, because he's a smart dude who believes teens are smart readers (one of my favourites is his first NYC book, So Yesterday, which tracks a teen coolhunter and is an accessible look into the marketing of trends).

Oh, and did you hear that Uglies is becoming a movie? Talk about happy-making news for all us. Welcome, Scott!

Scott Westerfeld: I will start this interview by mentioning that Justine Larbalestier and I go back and forth between New York City and Sydney every six months, so we technically have TWO summers. It's all summer reads for us!
Indigo Teen Blog
: I am completely envious. What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
: I just met Stephanie Perkins at Leaky-Con, and she was a total gas, so I want to read her new book, Anna and the French Kiss. Maureen Johnson's Name of the Star is a fall book, but I'll be weaseling a copy this summer if I can. And finally Dia Reeves' Slice of Cherry just came out, and everyone says it's awesome. It's a really funny/dark book about the two daughters of a famous serial killer, and how they cope with their unwanted fame. I like a dark summer read sometimes.

ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
: Hmm, that goes way back to Anne Rice's vampire books. I was in beach house right by the water in the early 1990s, and was stuck in bed for three days with a terrible sore throat, reading Rice the whole time. The sore throat blended nicely with the vampire theme, I suppose. Since then I've read a lot of horror every summer.

ITB: Describe your ideal summer day?
: I like spending all day reading, then cooking starting in the afternoon, and eating outside late.

ITB: Are there any summer eats/treats you can’t live without?
: Mangoes and flying foxes. This mostly applies to my Sydney life. Our flat there is right under a flying fox daily migration route, so thousands of them pass over us on their way out to the suburbs to eat figs (flying foxes are big fruit bats native to Australia, with wing spans of about a meter. They have cute faces, just like their vulpine namesakes. They make a clucking sound and smell pleasantly musky when in huge numbers).

ITB: The Leviathan books have done an excellent job of balancing the horrors and tension of war with both adventure and a celebration of scientific progress. Is that a difficult balance to maintain?
: I'm glad that most people seem to think I'm not glorifying war in the series. We writers are always facing this issue, whether our books are about divorce, or drugs, fatal illnesses, or battles. We're looking for conflict, after all, and awful things generate more plot than pleasant ones.
        You make a great point, though, that a lot of technology comes out of war. And not just jet planes and rockets and dramatic stuff like that, but lots of medical advances as well (thanks to all those horrific injuries). And really, Leviathan is about a contest between two technologies, the machines of the Clankers versus the beasties of the Darwinists. What I try to do is show how this divide leads to two ways of seeing the world. And by having my romantic leads come from different sides of the conflict, hopefully I'm showing how we can bridge these gaps of understanding to work together, and maybe even love each other.

ITB: What have you enjoyed more when creating your worlds: imagining the future or re-imagining the past?
: In a funny way, imagining the future is easier because there are less books to read about it. I'm changing big things about the past, so I feel compelled not to mess up the little things, like, "Did they have zippers in 1914?" The past is tricky because there are more things I can get wrong. But it pays off. While researching the world of 1914 for Leviathan, I discovered lots of of cool stuff I would never have thought of on my own. For example, Alek's parents were of different social class, so he couldn't inherit his father's titles. That comes from history, but it turned into a major plot point of Leviathan. The past may be harder, but it's worth it having that extra layer of material to mine.

ITB: Other than potential prequels in the Leviathan universe, can you discuss where (and when) you’ll be taking your readers next?
: Well, there will be a fourth book in the Leviathan trilogy, but don't worry, pedants, it's not a novel! It's called The Manual of Aeronautics, and is a large-format guide to the world of Leviathan, sort of like the Spiderwick Field Guide. There are deck plans, cutaways, and picture of uniforms, equipment, and lots of beasties. It's basically the technical book that Deryn refers to throughout the series brought to life in glorious color. It comes out next August, so I'm writing the text for it now, and Keith is doing a billion pieces of art.

ITB: There's also the newly announced and totally bubbly Uglies manga ( coverage) coming out from Del Rey in May 2012. The manga will tell the events of Uglies from Shay's POV.

Thanks to Scott for taking time out to answer our questions and Simon & Schuster Canada for arranging the interview.


Follow our Teen Summer Reading Series:

Kelley Armstong

Moira Young

• Kieran Scott

Maggie Stiefvater

Veronica Roth

Scott Westerfeld

Sarah Dessen

Libba Bray
Published in Teen
Tuesday, 26 July 2011 19:07

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth Oppel’s latest novel, This Dark Endeavour, is the first in a trilogy about a teenage Victor Frankenstein. Long before the man we meet in Mary Shelley’s novel creates his “monster,” Victor is living with his twin brother Konrad and their distant cousin Elizabeth in their family’s Geneva chateau.

Life is, on the whole, delightful for Victor—despite that his kinder and more amicable brother is the favourite among the household. Victor’s not so good with people—in fact, they think him rather entitled and more than a little haughty. He is—but he also grapples with the issue of wanting to be as loved as his twin.

Especially since Elizabeth prefers Konrad, and Victor is slowly coming to understand that he loves her. When Konrad falls ill to a mysterious disease, Victor turns to the forbidden lore of the Dark Library to find a cure.

This could be a standard love triangle, but having the identical twins allows Oppel to explore the idea of balances—lights and shadows, goodness and darkness, science and religion, knowledge and faith. It asks question of how far we go for those we love and what we can rely on when we claim not to believe in anything.

This Dark Endeavour ticks a lot of the boxes I find interesting—alchemy, twins, quests, adventure, strong females, and a narrator who isn’t your typical lovable protagonist. The issue with reading something about an established literary character is that you can’t depend on a plot to “surprise” you—because you know the destination. What you’re reading for is the journey.

This is absolutely worth the trip. Oppel combines interesting characters who I came to care about with clean prose full of humor, passion, and danger. I felt for Victor—I cheered for him, despite that I knew it had to all go terribly wrong at some point. I loved Elizabeth and her strength and I didn’t find her behaviour to be anachronistic, because the other characters acknowledge that it’s unusual-for-the-time and “wild.”

I enjoyed the historical setting and felt like there was a sense of Geneva and the time period without it being overwhelming or too detailed in the descriptions. Everything played out in my mind like a movie, so I can see why the film rights have already sold to Summit Entertainment. We always need more adventure stories in the teen section, and I enjoyed the quest element of this one—it reminded me of playing an RPG (forget movie, this would be a great video game).

What really pulled me through the story, however, is Victor himself. In less capable hands, he could easily be a very unsympathetic narrator, but Oppel makes the young Frankenstein believable. Victor’s a fascinating character—someone who knows he’s flawed but still tries to do what he believes to be right. More importantly, he can convince us to go along with him.

That’s the real alchemy of Oppel’s tale, he’s taken a character whom many of us know the “fate” of and managed to give us this fleeting hope that things could possibly turn out differently. Even knowing they won’t, I still want to see that journey from where This Dark Endeavour ends to where Frankenstein begins.

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein is available August 30th from HarperCollins Canada. Thank you to them for providing the ARC.

Published in Teen
Thursday, 21 July 2011 04:15

Teen Summer Reading Series: Veronica Roth

We love Divergent. If you follow the blog or twitter, you probably know that. Veronica Roth's debut rocks and I think it's better than The Hunger Games. Set in a future Chicago where society is rigidly divided into five categories and factions are stronger than blood, Divergent asks serious questions about courage and authority and what being selfless really means.

So when we starting thinking of authors for the Teen Summer Reading Series, it was like "We HAVE to ask Vernoica Roth!" And it was a good thing, too, because Divergent has been fighting for top spot in the Teen Summer Reading Poll!

Indigo Teen Blog: What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
Veronica Roth:
I’m looking forward to reading Absence of Mind by Marilynne Robinson, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver, and East by Edith Pattou. I think it’s important to have variety!

ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
VR: I remember the summer I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. My mother had given me one job: water the plants every day. So the days I was reading the book, I would hold the book in one hand and the hose in the other and completely lose track of what I was doing. I’m pretty sure I drowned half the plants. But that’s how those books are—they consume you and convince you that they’re real, or at least make you long for them to be real. They’re amazing.

ITB: Summer eats/treats you can't live without?
VR: I love those popsicles that are essentially colored sugar water in a clear plastic tube. You know, the ones you buy unfrozen and stick them in the freezer? I could eat 10 of those in one day.

ITB: I was really impressed by Divergent, because you did so much in one book—and now with INSURGENT, the stakes have got to be higher. Is it harder to write a second book?
VR: Thank you! Writing a second book is definitely harder. I wrote the first book without knowing if I was going to let anyone read it, so I felt comfortable playing around and taking my time and making huge mistakes. With the second one, I put a lot of pressure on myself because I knew people would be reading it. It took me a long time to figure out how to take that pressure off, and to feel free to write like I used to. Thankfully I seem to have found that freedom again.

ITB: I've seen mention of how "young" you are when they talk about the success of Divergent. How do you feel about this attention on how young an author is?
VR: I don’t really have a problem with people mentioning it, because I am young and I am extremely fortunate to have a book published at all, let alone at this age. But I prefer for the attention to stay on the work itself. My age will change, but the book will still be what it is, so that is what’s really important.

Big thanks to Veronica for taking time out of her writing time to answer our questions and HarperCollins Canada for arranging the interview.


Follow our Teen Summer Reading Series:

Kelley Armstong

Moira Young

• Kieran Scott

Maggie Stiefvater

Veronica Roth

Scott Westerfeld

Sarah Dessen

Libba Bray
Published in Teen

Have you seen the Teen Summer Reading Series shop on Not only is it your one-stop place to pick up titles from our Teen Summer Reading Series authors, but it's also where you'll be voting to choose the #1 Teen Summer Read for 2011.

That's right, YOU are going to crown a winner among our ten guest authors. Will it be Kelley Armstrong's The Gathering? Veronica Roth's Divergent? Or Sarah Dessens Whatever Happened to Goodbye?

Maybe Libba Bray's Beauty Queens or Lesley Livingston's Once Every Never will jump into the lead?

Tell your friends, make teams, and get voting!

Remember that the Teen Summer Reading Series interviews post here on Thursdays, and keep following @IndigoTeenBlog for the giveaways all Summer long.

Published in Teen
Thursday, 07 July 2011 18:28

July New Releases

There are twenty titles this month that I think you'll enjoy, but I've got to say that July—in general—appears to have fewer teen titles releasing than previous months. Also: Not sure I feel mermaids are better than books about Hades, but it's nice to see multiple trends sharing the shelves this year.

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison—The new series by the author of the Georgia Nicholson books. Tallulah is off to a summer program at a performing arts college and ready for (mis)adventure!

The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson—An amatuer anthropologist finds her careful study of her high school thrown all of sorts when one of those Hot Boys shows an interest in performing some mating rituals with her.

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter—Mermaids as girls who have given up on life (a book that asks WHY mermaids/sirens want to drown sailors). Probably not a cheery read, but it's a very interesting take. Remote Alaskan setting. First book in a new trilogy.

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray—Summer means Shakespeare! Here's a modern retelling of the Hamlet and Ophelia romance from Ophelia's perspective. I'll probably read this just for the fact that Opehlia doesn't commit suicide in it.

Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers—The second book in the Personal Demons series.

Pretty Little Liars #9: Twisted by Sara Shepard—Did you think solving Alison's murder was the end of the Pretty Little Liars? Yeah, me too, so it looks like we're both pleasantly surprised.

Sirensong: A Faeriewalker Novel by Jenna Black—The third in Jenna Black's YA series that started with Glimmerglass and continued with Shadowspell. I really like the covers for this series.

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf—The cover for this one on goodreads made me stop and go "Whoa, what's that one?" It sounds complex and original; I also like that it has a latina protagonist (or she may be Hispanic).

My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert Jeschonek—The main character is convinced his life is a novel written by a malicious author plotting to kill him in Chapter 64. I like the wierd ones. A lot.

Dragon’s Oath by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (July 12)—House of Night is getting a mini-series of novellas about fencing instructor Bryan Lankford. Here is novella #1.

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia (July 12)—Three girls meet each summer at a boarding school in Switzerland. Think the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants featuring an Iranian princess, a cuban-Jewish New Yorker and a German-Canadian but without the shared denim.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (July 12)—The final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy which began with Shiver and continued with Linger. Sam had better not die.

Starstruck by Cyn Balog (July 12)—So it's a bit of friends fall in love, but it's over the internet, and then it may turn out that one of them has joined the Luminati.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore (July 12)—Witches! Texas! Ghosts! Ranches! The second novel by the author of The Splendor Falls.

Love Story by Jennifer Echols (July 19)—It's a romance novel. About a boy and girl in a creative writing program in NYC with a complicated Kentucky past who write sexy stories about each other.

Ripple, by Mandy Hubbard (July 19)—Lexi is a siren. Lexi must swim each night. Lexi must choose between a new hottie at school and a sexy water spirit.

Supernaturally by Kiersten White (July 26)—The second in the Paranormalcy series featuring Evie kicking butt and cracking jokes and being so very not normal.

Wildefire by Karsten Knight (July 26)—Sisters at odds, new schools, wars between gods & godesses, and Polynesian mythology! Plus, a guy author writes a convincing girl POV. Well done, Mr. Knight.

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (July 26)—The sequel to Nightshade.

Never Ever by Sara Shepard (July 26)—The second book in The Lying Game series where the twin of a murder victim tries to solve the crime.

Published in Teen
Thursday, 07 July 2011 04:34

Teen Summer Reading Series: Kieran Scott

Let's say your parents had a lot of money. You had the best of everything and ruled the school. Now, let's say your father ran off with your friends' parents money and you had to leave town in disgrace. Imagine having to return to that town and finding out the guy who lives in your former residence—and now has all of your former friends—is someone that you might actually want to date.

That's sort of the set-up for She's So Dead to Us, the riches to rags and rags to riches story of Ally Ryan and Jake by Kieran Scott. He's So Not Worth It, the second installment of this contemporary fiction trilogy, released earlier this summer just in time for a trip to The Shore.

Indigo Teen Blog: What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
Kieran Scott: I have so many books on my list it’s ridiculous, but the two I’m most looking forward to reading are the final books in two of my favorite trilogies, Jenny Han’s We’ll Always Have Summer and Maggie Steifvater’s Forever. I’ve also wanted to read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See for a while. The sequel just came out so I’ve really got to get to the first one already! Maybe when I hit the shore later in the summer.

ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
KS: I distinctly remember reading Maeve Binchy’s Scarlet Feather on the beach a while back. I loved the characters so much I couldn’t put it down. I think I got a sunburn reading it because I forgot to re-apply sunscreen! I also read Confessions of a Shopaholic for the first time over a summer and it inspired me NOT to go clothing shopping in the fall. Binchy and Kinsella are two of my favorite authors. I read everything they write.

ITB: Describe your ideal summer day?
KS: I would definitely be on Long Beach Island—my favorite place on the Jersey Shore and where He’s So Not Worth It is set—with my family. We’d get up and ride our bikes to our favorite breakfast place and eat outside while the world came slowly to life around us. Then we’d spend the rest of the day playing, reading and dozing on the beach. We’d stay until the lifeguards quit for the day and everyone started to pack it in, so we could watch the beach get really quiet. After the sun went down we’d go out to dinner and for ice cream and maybe catch a good summer movie (something with superheroes or romance—or both), then fall asleep with the windows open listening to the surf. Hmmm... Can you tell I’ve thought about this a bit?  

ITB: Summer eats/treats you can’t live without?
KS: Sweet New Jersey corn on the cob is a must. I also love it when blueberries and strawberries are in season. But let’s be honest here, I’m all about the ice cream. Every year I get a Chipwich or two on the beach. And hot dogs at Yankee Stadium, of course.

ITB: Why did you choose to write the She’s So Dead to Us trilogy from both Ally and Jake’s POVs?
KS: I love writing first person, so that was a no-brainer, but what really intrigued me was writing from a guy’s point of view. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could get inside the head of someone so different from me. I’ve also always loved books from different points of view in which you can really hear the different voices. Jennifer Weiner’s great at it, Maeve Binchy as well. Dean Koontz and Anne Rice were big favorites of mine as a teen and I think it’s because they had that ability to make different POV’s so unique and genuine. I hope I pulled it off, too!

ITB: I have to ask since you’re from New Jersey… Is the Jersey Shore at all a true representation of your state?
KS: Um, no. I actually have an idea to do a commercial about New Jersey where I just go around to all the awesome, down-to-earth, smart, creative, athletic, inspiring, intelligent, successful people I know and have them look into the camera and say “I’m New Jersey.” Because the people on that show are not representative of this amazing state I live in.

ITB: Can you tell us a little bit more about the @AnnietheNorm twitter?
KS: I had this idea to give Annie a twitter account because in the books I’m always referencing how much she loves to dish about the Cresties on twitter and facebook. So I started it up, all excited, but then let it go because I couldn’t figure out what timeframe she would be tweeting in. But THIS summer, I’m taking it to a whole new level because He’s So Not Worth It came out at the beginning of the summer and really takes the reader from June to September, so I now have a timeline to follow. Annie’s going to be tweeting inside info and secrets in “real time” along with the timeline of the book this summer. Look for lots of tweets around major events in the book, like July Fourth weekend and the end of summer bash at Faith’s, but there will also be so juicy tidbits about Will, Chloe, Jake, David, Marshall, Shannen and Faith in between.

Thanks to Kieran for answering our questions and our friends at Simon & Schuster Canada for arranging the interview.


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Traditionally dystopian fiction presents a ‘perfect’ world and then slowly shows the ugliness beneath. A great example from the teen department is Lois Lowry’s The Giver. In more recent releases, we can look to Matched by Ally Condie, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and Divergent by Veronica Roth.

I wouldn’t say The Hunger Games, as much, because I don’t believe Katniss ever had the delusion that her world was perfect. The same thing can be said for Saba in Blood Red Road. But these two books are considered dystopian titles—as well as Lauren DeStefano’s Wither and Jo Triggiari’s Ashes, Ashes.

I’m uncertain if a cynical distrust of our world won’t allow us to even present possible futures as perfect or if it’s a result of transparency asking us to be upfront about the world from the get go. I do believe the decision impacts the kind of story we’re told—and has a lot to do with the character who is telling us the story.

One of the first teen dystopian series I read was Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies—which is literally about the cost of a Pretty world and the beauty of being an Uglie. Thinking about it, one could argue Tally-wa’s ending isn’t any happier than Katniss’s. Freedom always comes at a great cost in a dystopian series.

But why is this genre so popular? For the sake of answering this question, let’s agree that dytopia is a useful and powerful genre. Perhaps it’s as simple as that in the face of such bleakness, hope shines that more brilliantly, and who doesn’t want a reminder that the world can be worth fighting for?

We all become disillusioned with life at some point. We realize things aren’t exactly as we were promised. Cynicism is a real killer, and it preys on a lot of teens.

Dystopias—in the teen section—are usually about the current power and authority structures being corrupt and oppressive. Why a teen would connect with that idea should be a no-brainer. Adolescence is when we start really questioning authority and the values of our parents. We think things are wrong and we believe we can make them better. Or we don’t believe we can—and that’s why a book like Divergent is so important, because it makes us reconsider how helpless we actually are.

Teen dystopias are about revolutions, because that’s what being a teenager is about. Also, it’s around the teen years when we start to learn that not every one gets a happy ending. Mockingjay remains one of the strongest examinations I’ve ever read of what future generation’s happy endings can cost the current generation.

So yes, on the surface dystopian fiction can seem like a mass of anger and cynicism and violence, but beneath the surface are underlying themes and ideas that speak to teen readers. Life is intense as a teen; everything feels like an extreme. You’ve got all this energy and these ideas and it sometimes feels like no one is listening. Teens have a million revolutions a year, so of course, they’re looking for the empowering fiction that’s going to help them work those feelings out.

Why do you read dystopia fiction? Which title is your current favourite?

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