Q:  Last day of May…do I know where my Teen and Tween are?
A:  Yes, at home.  Where am I?  I’m not telling!
Q:  What books are on my ping pong table?
A:  The subject of this post…read on!
YA = Young Adult
There are YA novels…and there are YA novels!
If you are reading (or writing) in this genre, you know what I mean.  The YA shelves of most libraries are packed full of novels which follow a very similar theme.  Such as:  girl in extraordinary situation quickly meets boy who is unusually awesome…they face many dangers together and end up falling in love.  Of course, there’s almost always some reason why they must *not* fall in love…generally the Romeo & Juliet version of my family hates your family (my kind hates your kind), or distrust of the special “power” that the protagonist must learn to master in order to…of course…save the world!
Now, I’m not criticizing.  It works.  These books are published, they are being read, and plenty of teens and tweens are thrilled with them!  But, sometimes it works really, really, really well!  To the point where the adult population gets involved, movies and super-stars are made…and people around the world know the titles better than they know their own middle name!
The Harry Potter Series
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Hunger Games
The Twilight Series
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Outsiders
The Princess Diaries
The Princess Bride
and more…
I divide the YA world into three categories:  
#1 –  the cookie cutout and boringly predictable
#2 –  the enjoyable yet not memorable
#3 –  the BREAK OUT novels that cause you to shop at two different book stores over a 5-day weekend because you’re too embarrassed to walk into the first shop three days in a row to buy the “next” book in the Twilight series.  (grin)
So, my question to you is…what makes the difference?  
Is it the writing?
Is it the tension – or lack of tension?
Is it the uniqueness of the story?
Is it the timing?
Is it the __________?
All of which brings me to the new YA novel on my ping-pong table, written by Amy Butler Greenfield.  Chantress.  I’ve just started it, and I’m guessing that it won’t leap into category #3.  But, I’m not sure.  It definitely isn’t in category #1.  And, as a writer…I’m trying to ferret out why her characters seem slightly more believable than characters in books that I simply slide back onto the library shelf?  Why do I already care – a little – after just ten pages?
Because, if a writer wishes to use Fiction Stories to inspire their readers to be “the change they want to see in the world,” then you’ve got to be writing in category #2 or #3.  As an activist (or a writer of Actopian Fiction), writing the “break out novel” is about so much more than an advance or a royalty check.  
After all, money is just money…but positive influence and inspiration is what the children of tomorrow need from the people of today…
So, I’m going to read the book,
talk with my writer’s group and other
friends who work as agents or
editors…and get back to you 
with some ideas.
Until then…won’t you share your thoughts?
Don’t miss my previous authors! Archived here: www.voiceofvashon.org/prose-poetry-and-purpose