Take 5: Mystery and Horror Cross-Overs for YA’s Wanting More
Last time I wrote about teens who were searching beyond the teen area for science fiction and fantasy cross overs, and showcased 5 authors who’s series are real hits with my teens. This time I thought I’d talk about mysteries and horror books. These are always a difficult one to pinpoint, because what we think of as a YA mystery ( Gallagher Girls or Heist Society, Code Name Verity or books by Lois Duncan) or horror (Anna Dressed in Blood) doesn’t translate all that well into the world of adults (with the exception of Daniel Kraus, Patrick Ness and Andrew Smith, who Karen thinks does horror well and it translates for adults). And depending on your system, your mysteries can also include bits of the paranormal (I’ve seen Darynda Jones’ Charlie Davidson series- where Charlie is a living Grim Reaper – in both fiction, mystery and science fiction), while horror may not be separated at all. So be prepared to look in various categories for these authors.
In case you don’t know, Janet Evanovich has written the extremely popular Stephanie Plum series (One For the Money, Two for the Dough) that has some of my readers comparing the thinking and antics of Stephanie to Sookie from the Sookie Stackhouse series. They really enjoy the writing as well as the situations that Stephanie gets herself in- which I think helps make her more human and believable to teens who are always finding themselves in trouble for something.
Kathy Reichs has been growing in popularity with a small group of my teens; whether it’s the popularity of the TV show Bones (which is on regular TV as well as on syndication) or they’re really getting into the forensics of her writing, I can’t say. I can say that those who have a strong interest in the science and police investigation behind crime really enjoy her books. Karen’s note: Reichs teen series, Virals, is actually very popular at my library.
My teens love the earlier books by Stephen King: Cujo, Carrie, Firestarter, It, and Mystery are ones that are continuously gaining legs and moving throughout my library, to be hidden in a variety of new and interesting places. Interestingly enough, they don’t seem to like the newer books (the ones published since his car accident in 1999), but anything before then seem to be perfect.
My horror loving teens have just recently found Dean Koontz, and I can’t keep them in his books. They’re currently going through his Frankenstein series (which seems to be a trend with science fiction fantasy in YA as well), and are just inhaling them. He’s “creepy” and “keeps you guessing” says one teen, which is what you definitely need is your horror.
Robert Kirkman is the writer/creator of The Walking Dead graphic novels and produced the TV pilot of The Walking Dead, which is responsible for sucking away many of Karen’s nights during it’s seasons. My teens keep an eye out for the boxes of new books, eagerly awaiting the day when we get a new bound edition of The Walking Dead, and there are fights over who gets to read it first. The comics are definitely very graphic and not intended for a teen audience (rated M for mature, and there are VERY graphic scenes in there), but those who are in desperate need of their zombie fix are definitely going to get it here- they are very well written and the story lines are wonderful, as well as deviating somewhat from the TV show (from what I’ve been told by the teens- I haven’t seen the show) so that adds to the excitement.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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