Teen Reviewers

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) runs a teen reviewer program with groups each year around the country. Publishers from across the country send ARCs advanced review copies) to the groups. In turn, the teens send reviews to the publishing company. It’s a great way to get real insight into how books will (or will not) appeal in the marketplace. It is also the first step in the Teens’ Top Ten program, a teen-selected best book list run by YALSA.

We asked the teen group from CPL Teen Reads, Coralville (Iowa) Public Library to blog about their experiences for us. Group members were asked to answer the following questions:

What trends do you see in the ARCs you’ve been receiving this year? What trends would you like to see?

Here are their responses:

The library has received many galley books spanning all genres, but some themes are more prominent than others.  The main trend in galley books is that of romance and emotional stories.  Many of the books are completely romance stories, or contain some amount of romance in their plots.  Others tell of emotional issues.  The romance books can be sorted even more, as some of the romance books are modern-style teen fiction, while others are more fantasy or science fiction, with romance still the prominent idea.  These books seem to appeal more to a female audience, and therefore leave few options open for male readers.  This trend likely formed because romance is what a female teenage audience often seeks in books.  In summary, many of the galley books are romantic stories appealing more to a female audience.

More books which do not fall into the aforementioned category should be published.  There is a lack of science fiction, action, and fantasy among the galleys.  If more of these books existed, a larger male audience would likely enjoy the galley program.—Kaz

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I have seen many trends in the galley books. The top eight are: magic or magical lands on Earth, spies and spy schools, new takes on cliché school-girl cliques both in private schools and public schools, dead people or zombies, teens saving the world, the race to win and survive, realistic fiction and the biggest one I’ve seen within many of the above trends is the attempt to combine a guys (or girls) story-line with something that girls (or guys) also enjoy in order to pull a bigger crowd such as outer-space and love. I would love to see more spy or mystery books (note: not murders, just mysteries) and realistic fiction. —Hannah

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I think a lot of the science fiction and fantasy books are really popular. The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal, and Human.4 by Mike Lancaster seemed to be two of the favorites. Love Inc. by Yvonne Collins was a really popular one with the girls, too. Some of the books we seem to all agree, but a lot of them are really interesting to hear everyone’s opinion of.

I think we’ve had a lot of good variety in all the books the library has received. I’d personally like to see more poetry and short story books, I don’t think teens have enough of these. I’m not sure which, if any, of the publishers publish nonfiction teen books, but I think that they would add a lot to the book group also. —Lily

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The trends I’m seeing are rather varied, actually.  However, it seems that a lot of authors are focusing on issues that teens are facing today, like depression, disturbing mental imagery, suicide, drug use, family problems, and so much more.  I think authors are trying to reach out to more teens by writing these sorts of books, to tell them that after every storm comes a rainbow.  This is a good message to send, but one does get tired of all the happy endings.  I would like to see some books more like Go Ask Alice, where you think it’s going to end happily, but the problem resurfaces.  It doesn’t seem very real when every book ends with the protagonist getting over their problems and moving on with their lives. —Kelsey

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I’ve noticed that several of the books we’ve received were about dystopian societies, often set in the future. A kind of book I’d like to see more books about mythical creatures or historical fiction. —Riley

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I, as many teenage readers, see many of the current books in the young adult section mentioning zombies, vampires, and other mythical creatures. Anything that’s fantasy or science-fiction, really, seems to be crowding up the bookshelves today in the teen sections of your local book store, library, etc. More and more books are becoming fast paced action sequences and less dramatic. Personally, I don’t oppose these trends. So far, I’ve liked the “supernatural shift,” and I wouldn’t change that. However, at a certain point, these books do tend to get quite predictable, and I hope that newer books will add more twists.—Edward

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Teen Reviewers