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Side by Side

We know that every book is original, but one thing we love at Teenreads is trends! It's fascinating to see how two books might tackle the same topic (reality television, PTSD, soccer) but approach it in completely different ways. In this feature, we'll ask authors whose books cover similar themes to answer the same set of questions, and list the results side by side. Sometimes the authors might even interview one another about their books, and we'll print their conversation.

Side by Side: Snow White

We all know the story: a jealous queen, a magic mirror, a girl with skin as white as snow and a collection of amusing but caring dwarves. However, authors Alex Flinn and Donna Jo Napoli both spin the traditional Snow White tale on its head. Set in modern-day Miami, Flinn’s MIRRORED follows the beautiful Celine, her evil stepmother Violet and her best friend, Goose, who she eventually moves in with to get away from the family drama. Napoli’s DARK SHIMMER, on the other hand, takes place in ancient Venice and follows a mirror-maker named Dolce who has no idea that quicksilver has the power to drive her mad.

Below, we ask these two talented authors about their research, their characters and what they’d do with their own magic mirror. Read below to find out, and be sure to check out their books!

Side by Side: Survival

Whether you went camping under the stars, learned how to tie knots in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts or even just navigated the wilderness that is high school, you've had to deal with survival skills at some point in your life.

But the characters in Melinda Braun's and Paul Griffin's new books take survival to a whole new level. In Braun's STRANDED, Emily and a group of campers are forced to face the world's most violent enemy: Mother Nature. In Griffin's ADRIFT, new friends decide to take a stolen boat out on the Atlantic, but not all of them return to shore.

We decided to ask Melinda and Paul some questions about their books and the unique set of skills it takes to survive in the wild --- check out their answers below!

Celebrity Hunks

Everyone likes the gorgeous star of their favorite TV show or that super muscular athlete, but there's just something about a celebrity hunk who can play an instrument. A beautiful guy (or girl) who can knock your socks off with a single note, or transport you to another world with their guitar riffs? Yes, please!

Both Miranda Kenneally and Katie M. Stout incorporate musically-inclined hunks into their new novels. In Kenneally's JESSE'S GIRLMaya shadows teen idol Jesse Scott in order to acheive her dreams of becoming a rock star.  When Grace --- the daughter of a famous music producer --- runs away from home to South Korea in Stout's HELLO, I LOVE YOU, she encounters Jason, a famous pop idol, who introduces her back into the world of music where she begins to understand what she is truly running from.

We decided to ask Miranda and Katie some questions about their books, their personal relationships with music and their celebrity hunks of choice --- check out their answers below!

Erasing Memories

We all have those memories that we cherish --- our first kiss, our trip to China, or that time we got a standing ovation at our piano recital or scored the final goal of a tied soccer game. But we all have some peskier memories, too --- some that are heartwrenching, scary, embarrassing or just plain awful. What would you do if you had the opportunity to erase those memories? Would you do it?

Authors Maggie Lehrman and Adam Silvera each explore that question in their new young adult books THE COST OF ALL THINGS and MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, respectively. When Ari’s boyfriend dies in THE COST OF ALL THINGS, she buys a spell to erase the memory of him. And when Aaron --- a boy whose father committed suicide and who has a loving girlfriend --- falls in love with Thomas, a kid from his neighborhood, he decides to undergo Leteo Institute’s memory erasing procedure to forget that he’s gay.

We decided to ask Maggie and Adam some questions about their books --- and their own memories --- below. Check out their answers below, and the books themselves!

Mental Health Awareness Month

One of the best things about the modern young adult literature scene is the increasingly diverse set of characters and stories. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but more than ever before, you can find protagonists who fall in all points on the LGBTQ spectrum; who come from a variety of ethnic, racial, religious and familial backgrounds; and who might have a physical disability or disease.

Or, as in the case of Fig in FIG by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz and Adam in THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten, have personal experience with mental disorders. Fig worries that she’ll develop schizophrenia just like her mother and begins to engage in various forms of self-harm, and Adam has OCD and joins a support group to learn to control it.

In honor of Mental Health Month, we did a candid joint interview with Sarah and Teresa where we asked them about the reasons they wrote their books, what they learned about mental health in the process and their advice for teens going through difficult issues of their own. On a lighter note, we also learned about their favorite characters, their writing routines and their writing advice (which, you’ll find, is shockingly similar!).

So read below, and afterwards, be sure to check out their books! For other recent books revolving around mental health, check out ONE THING STOLEN by Beth Kephart, SCHIZO by Nic Sheff, THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson and CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman. If you want to learn more about Mental Health Month, see the official site, here.

Side by Side: Space Travel

Have you ever thought about hopping in a spaceship and taking a trip around the universe? Maybe you’d like see the stars, have an epic adventure and fall in star-crossed love. The characters in LIFER by Beck Nicholas and THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman get to do just that.

In LIFER, Asher is a slave, called a lifer, aboard the spaceship Pelican. She’s desperate to aid the brewing Lifer rebellion, but she could be in serious danger. On the other side of the universe, Blank wakes up without his memory and has to play for it in a black-market gaming warehouse. In THIS SHATTERED WORLD, Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac are caught between two sides in a senseless war over a terraformed planet.

We talked to Beck Nichols, Megan Spooner and Amie Kaufman about their inspiration, their sci-fi research, and what aliens would think about their high school days --- and their apparent mutual love for chocolate that grows on trees.. Read below for this month’s Side by Side.

Side by Side: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is famous for writing some of the eeriest poems and stories in English literature, rife with people being buried alive, talking ravens and mysterious detectives. Years later, his works are still frightening readers everywhere --- and inspiring a new generation of authors.

For our latest side-by-side, we talk to Bethany Griffin and Jessica Verday, both of whom based their latest YA novels on one of Poe’s masterpieces., Bethany Griffin reimagines the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” in the tension-filled THE FALL, which follows a girl named Madeleine who is trapped in a living house that is slowly driving her mad. In OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS, Annabel discovers that her father’s two assistants --- Edgar and Allan --- are in fact two halves of the same person, and that they’re determined to commit the crimes described in Allan’s stories.

Read below to learn what inspired Bethany and Jessica, their biggest irrational fears, and what they’d do if they had a day to spend with the legendary author himself. 


Side by Side: Frosty Reads

The leaves may be just starting to turn in most parts of the country and some of us are still stubbornly clinging on to our t-shirts and shorts, but in the YA book world, things are a whole lot chillier --- by about 50 or 60 degrees.

For this side by side, we’re taking the polar plunge and exploring two particularly “frosty reads”: WINTERKILL by Kate A. Boorman and THE WINTER PEOPLE by Rebekah L. Purdy. In WINTERKILL, Emmeline and her community are trapped in their freezing, isolated village because the enemy who killed half of her people lives in the woods just outside.  When her dreams urge her into the forest, however, she can’t help but follow. In THE WINTER PEOPLE, Salome has been desperately afraid of winter since she fell into a frozen pond as a child, but when her grandparents leave her in charge of their estate, she learns about an entirely other world --- and an evil that swirls in the snowy backdrop.

Read our side-by-side interviews with Kate and Rebekah below to learn the coolest thing they learned when researching their books and their favorite high school winter memory.


Side by Side: Running

Sometimes, the only way to get over a tough time is to turn your focus onto something else --- set a new goal and go after it.

Side by Side: Genies/Jinn

A lot of people have a very specific image when they think of “genie” --- the loveably goofy, blue one from Aladdin who is forever bursting into song and imitating various accents. However, authors Amber Lough and Lindsay Ribar have a very different take on these mysterious creatures in their new books.

In Amber’s THE FIRE WISH, Zayele, a girl who is engaged to the Prince of Baghdad against her will, trades places with Najwa, a jinni training to be a spy in the war against the humans. In Lindsay’s THE FOURTH WISH, the second book in The Art of Wishing series, high school student Margo finds out she’s a genie and has to reconcile doing whatever her master wants with coming into powers she never imagined having.

For this side-by-side, we asked Amber and Lindsay to tell us a writing-related wish, what they would have wished for in high school, what magical creature they would like to be, and more. See their answers, below!