This week sees the launch of the social media campaign called #IreadYA. One of the prompts for this week’s push by Scholastic Book’s online community This is Teen is to share what we think young adult characters would read. In my first novel, Gidion’s Hunt, I ran into several places where my teenage vampire hunter’s reading habits make themselves known.
Gidion gets to spend a lot of time at home alone, because his single father works in a 911 Center evenings and overnights. After getting a little wounded from a fight with a vampire, Gidion takes a hot bath to soak his sore arm. While in the tub, he picks a book to read. Having grown up with only his father around, Gidion’s reading habits by the age of 16 mirror his father a bit more than I suspect the average teen. With that in mind, I have Gidion read an adult thriller novel by Kyle Mills. Kyle is one of my favorite writers, but I also felt it was a reading choice that made sense for my character. I never state which of Kyle’s books he’s reading, but if I had to say which one he was most likely to read in that scene, the answer would be The Immortalists. The title of the book contains the obvious reason. My choice here wasn’t without an ulterior motive. While the reading choices of characters in YA need to fit the character, it’s also important that the characters read beyond the YA market as a subtle nudge for the readers to do the same.
Gidion’s reading isn’t limited to novels. Very early in the book, I make it clear he’s big on superhero comic books, with DC’s Red Robin being one of his favorites. The comic book series features Tim Drake, the third Robin in the Batman mythos. I realized shortly after I started writing my novel that Gidion would identify well with Tim, who is the most like Batman out of all the Robins. By the time my novel was released, DC Comics had unfortunately cancelled the series in their company-wide reboot called the New 52. While I recognized the anachronism, I chose to keep Red Robin as a favorite comic book for Gidion, because his adoration of Tim Drake says a lot about him. I was also motivated by the hope that DC would wake up and give Tim his own series again (sadly, still waiting). I peppered several little nods to that comic book series throughout my novel, and the diehard fans won’t miss them.
I think for writers, getting to offer nods to the writers and books that have influenced them is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Perhaps the one shameless nod I force on Gidion takes place during a scene inside a bookstore where he’s trying to set an ambush for a vampire. He randomly picks up a book, and the book he selects is Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Part of Maggie’s book shows how a trio of girls who are lifelong friends drifts apart as the main character gets involved with a boy for the first time. I decided to take that dynamic and apply it to Gidion and his two friends. Part of the twist in how I used it was that my main character isn’t the one starting to date. Instead, it’s one of the other two friends, but the result is the same in that their triumvirate collapses.
So, now it’s your turn. What books do you think your favorite YA characters would read and why? Share it here in my blog’s comments, and make sure to share it with your preferred social media using the hashtag #IreadYA.