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Dystopian Literature for Teens

Hunger Games coverDystopian literature is one of the fastest growing trends in teen literature right now. (Vampires? So 2008...) These are fantasy or science fiction stories typically set in the future or in an alternate history that depict a seemingly utopian world that is in fact corrupt and controlling. Brave New World, 1984, and A Clockwork Orange are some classic examples that are still widely enjoyed today, but Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy has emerged as the most recent successful offering for teens within this genre. Plenty more dystopian novels are appearing on the shelves every day, with stories about post-apocalyptic wastelands, constant surveillance, dwindling natural resources, oppressive dictators, mindless conformity, and me-against-the-world heroes that must face it all head on.


But why the recent surge in this thought-provoking yet gloomy genre for teens? This article in The New Yorker examines the recent boom, and this interesting debate in the NY Times includes some well-known dystopian lit authors like Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies series) and Paolo Bacigalupi.   that  Paolo Bacigalupi (recent winner of the 2011 Printz Award). Does the growing trend coincide with rising political, economic, and environmental turmoil in the world? Is it because technology is becoming too invasive in our lives? Or is it simply because this genre speaks to many teens that are approaching adulthood and beginning to critically examine and question the world around them? Perhaps all of the above and more. In any case, the result is some fascinating and engaging literature for us readers to enjoy. Check these out.



It can be heavy stuff, but don't despair. Just remember that these are cautionary tales of what could be, not necessarily where we are headed...One of the most inspiring things about stories like these is recognizing how people can correct history's mistakes and work together to build a better future.

Battle of the Bands '11: The Library Rocks!

Battle of the Bands logoHave you voted yet for your favorite Battle of the Bands 2011 contestants??? The deadline is March 5th, and everyone is welcome to check out all 20 of our talented teen bands and performers before casting a vote. The top 5 bands with the most votes will be invited to play at an exciting concert finale at Almaden Branch Library & Community Center on March 19th. You're all invited to attend. I've had the pleasure of attending our past three Battle of the Bands finales, and they have all featured amazing young musicians. Don't miss out on this year's concert as we rock the library once again!


When I was a teen, I played in an all-girl punk band with my friends called Lily Liver. We weren't very good, but it was such a blast to practice out in the garage or play at our friends' parties. Check out these young adult books about other teens that rock, or learn how you can rock, too. Just be sure to give the library a shout-out on your album's liner notes. :)


Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning

Molly Montgomery discovers the high price of fame when her band, The Hormones, is joined by dangerous Dean and his friend T, and they become famous.


Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

A group of high school students thrown together in detention form a band to play at a school talent show and end up competing against a wildly popular local rock band.


Punk Rock Etiquette: The Ultimate How-to Guide for Punk, Underground, DIY, and Indie Bands by Travis Nichols

Don't let the name fool you...This is an awesome how-to guide for any type of band just starting out! Learn how to find bandmates, make your own shirts, find places to play, etc.


Rock Star Superstar coverRock Star Superstar by Blake Nelson

When Pete, a talented bass player, moves from playing in the high school jazz band to playing in a popular rock group, he finds the experience exhilarating even as his new fame jeopardizes his relationship with girlfriend Margaret.


The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop by Peter Shapiro

The definitive guide to hip-hop, from Grandmaster Flash to Outkast and beyond. Learn from the masters before you hit the mic.


6X : The Uncensored Confessions by Nina Malkin

Four teens on the fast track to pop-rock superstardom reveal the unfiltered truth about the glamorous, backstabbing world of sudden celebrity.

Santa Teresa teensReachers' Favorite Movies of 2010

Black Swan: The music was amazing!


Eclipse: This was my favorite movie because I really liked the books and Edward Cullen.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I: I enjoyed the action and drama in this movie.


Salt: The movie had a great plot line that made the whole movie interesting. Also, the action was very realistic and amazing.


The Social Network: This is my favorite movie of 2010 because it shows how the dot-com bubble can shape an individual’s life.


Toy Story 3: It wrapped up the series perfectly, it was awesome watching the characters again and it was almost perfect. The only problem is that the next Pixar film (Cars 2) has little potential.


Cover of book Eclipse   Cover of book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows   Cover of ebook The Accidental Billionaires the Founding of Facebook   Cover of book The Art of Toy Story 3

Posted by Michele Rowic on Feb 23, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Teen Fiction: Awesome Audiobooks

Audiobooks are not just for commuters like me...They are great for long trips, doing chores, kicking back at home, etc.  San José Public Library has plenty of great audiobook titles for readers of all ages in both CD and eAudiobook formats. If you've read my other posts, you'll know that I love to read and share teen fiction reviews. These are some Young Adult Audiobook titles that I've listened to recently and really enjoyed, thanks to both great stories and great actors.


Will Grayson, Will Grayson coverWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (available on CD & eAudiobook)

John Green and David Levithan are both excellent YA authors, and this collaborative novel has everything you should expect from them: quirky dialogue, eccentric characters, lots of humor, unconventional romance, and a dash of drama. This fateful story of two guys named Will Grayson is narrated by two actors playing the two alternating Will Graysons, and they do an excellent and often hilarious job, complete with actual belted-out tunes from the musical featured in the story about Will's best friend: "Tiny Dancer: The Tiny Cooper Story." Good times!


Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn (available on CD)

Cyd Charisse has been sent back to San Francisco to live with her mom and stepdad after getting kicked out of her east coast boarding school. Beware! Cyd is snarky, cynical, and rebellious (think Juno in combat boots), but deep down she's just trying to find her way in life. Voice actor Carine Montbertrand nails what I would imagine to be Cyd's growling and sarcastic tone of voice. Not for the faint of heart...Recommended for the freaks & geeks out there.


The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt (available on CD)

A touching story about a likable yet awkward teenage boy named Levi who loves his brother so sincerely. Boaz has just returned from Iraq and is clearly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and his younger brother Levi is struggling to break through and reach him. They hit the road on foot, traveling hundreds of miles to Washington, D.C. I enjoyed the sincere voice performance on this one, in addition to the excellent story.


White Cat coverWhite Cat by Holly Black (available on CD)

In this new fantasy series by Holly Black, curse workers are people among us that are born with the ability to "curse" or manipulate others through touch. There are luck workers, emotion workers, death workers, etc. Cassel's family has a rich history of curse work, with ties to a local crime family that uses curses for nefarious purposes. Cassel begins to discover his role in all of it as truths are brought to light. Actor Jesse Eisenberg of recent Social Network and Zombieland critical praise narrates this one in his charmingly-awkward way.


Now that I have the OverDrive app on my Android phone, I can't wait to download more digital audiobook titles currently available through OverDrive. Happy listening!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Committee Chooses Two Bookmarks

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Committee chose two of the King Library’s Bookmark Contest entries to be distributed during its many Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Events in January and February. Kianna and Jaspreet are students at Notre Dame High School and both chose to use quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in their original bookmark designs. Kianna picked “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase” and “We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.” Jaspreet’s choice was “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Congratulations to Kianna and Jaspreet for their original bookmarks! If you’re looking for information about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visit the King Library, 3rd Floor, where there is a special collection of books, DVDs and sound recordings about him.


Jaspreet of Notre Dame High School and her winning bookmark     Kianna from Notre Dame Highschool and her Winning Bookmark

Top 5 Reasons to Sign Up for SJPL's Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands graphic5) You have the chance to win $250! What can you buy with $250?? Tons of things like: 500 Jack-in-the-Box tacos, 41 movies at Camera Cinemas, 50 Starbucks’ Tall Mocha Frappuccino…. or more important things like new guitar strings, sound equipment, or awesome matching fedoras. 


4) Increase your fanbase!  Did you know that over 7 million bodies come through our doors every year?  That’s a lot of Facebook friends.


3) Get a jump start on your rockstar career early!  The average age of the members of The Rolling Stones is about 66; that means at least 50 years of rock for your band!


2) Make rock concerts in libraries a good thing!  San José Public Libraries are not places where you can only wear rubber soled shoes and have the potential of being shushed.  They are thriving, active, and fun community hotspots.  Do your part to keep the library that way!


1) Make your parents/family/friends proud.  Yeah, I know; that sounds kind of lame, but it’s true.   Performing in front of live audiences is really nerve wrecking,  but the end result is the pride you and your loved ones will feel when they see you on stage. 


So sign up NOW for our annual Battle of the Bands competition!