Notes from the Teen Press Corps

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- February 10th, 2017

BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps brings together more than a dozen opinionated, well-read, book lovers at the store every month to discuss books, trends, and all things YA. We keep them well supplied in ARCs, and they review books for us (in-store and online), interview touring authors, and liveblog at the annual Texas Teen Book Festival. We always take a break over the holidays, but they’ve just kicked off their new year, so we checked in with them to see what they’re looking for in 2017.

The Teen Press Corps keeps us honest. We give them a ton of ARCs to choose from every month, but they read and write about what they want. They set their own agenda and are never afraid to give an unfiltered opinion to us or our customers. To take us into the new year on the right foot, we gave them some prompts and, as always, they had a lot to say!

We asked how what they see in the world right now shapes what they want to read. They said the current climate makes them want to:

  • return to the familiar world of Harry Potter where scary mirrors of the real world come with a comforting dose of hope
  • read more diversely, doing #diversitybingo2017 and finding Own Voices novels
  • read strong female characters, taking inspiration from the women’s march and protests
  • celebrate comic books and graphic novels that offer diverse characters and alternate depictions of heroism
  • demand characters with imperfections and stories that reflect complex real world challenges
  • escape into fantasies that distract from real life
  • avoid dystopian fiction because it seems all too real

10 things they want to see less of this year:

  • Cliched love triangles: Actually, they all enjoy well-done love triangles but think putting them in just to have them insults the intelligence of the reader
  • The Mary Sue: The instant perfect girl who knows how to use her powers the second she has them, who’s good at sports, beautiful without realizing it, and knows how to be different and special without trying
  • Real people on book covers, especially when they don’t match the subject or feel of the book—including movie tie-ins
  • No one doing homework or preparing for school or college unless it’s a specific theme
  • Instant love or friendships: These things take time! Or, conversely, the best guy friend the main character never notices as her soulmate until the very end
  • Forcing that next book and stretching stories to get more books out of a concept
  • Killing parents and friends off just to move the story along
  • Miscommunication tropes: keeping secrets, telling lies, and not saying things people would say in real life just to create a situation that has to blow up
  • Reactionary main characters: characters who everything happens to, but who lack the agency to act independently or proactively
  • Serial retellings: So many novels retelling the same story until it becomes confusing and stale

10 books on their nightstands right now:

Visit the Teen Press Corps website to see some of their writing from 2016!

2 thoughts on “Notes from the Teen Press Corps

  1. Leslie Hawkins

    The regulars in our teen book club also tell us that they’re “sick” of all the love triangles. Some enjoy romance in their books more than others, but all agree that the triangle is just *way* overdone and also that sometimes they want to read a story that’s about a girl and doesn’t necessarily hinge on her romantic life. They’ve noted repeatedly that it doesn’t seem to be as big an issue with male main characters. They get to have romance-free adventures, or at least a romance that doesn’t take over the whole story, but females almost never do.

    Some other things I hear them saying regularly:
    They love it when they get to read a story with a friendship that’s the main relationship; when they get to read something that’s just generally fresh and unexpected (don’t we all!); they love great world-building, even when it’s just immersing them in a non-familiar real place or time in history; and they like flawed, realistic characters, even in their SFF.

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