Thursday, December 20, 2007

It Started with Tolkien . . .

Greetings, Fellow Teen Library Enthusiasts!

As this is my first foray into the world of blogging for the Arlington Library's teen page, let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is James Ponder and I am a Senior Reference Assistant at the downtown George W. Hawkes Central Library. I am 29 years old, a Libra, and I enjoy reading teen literature (among other genres) because it is a great venue for unheard of authors, and because the targeted teen audience often allows for a greater range of imagination and creativity among its writers. I have also had a hand in some of the program planning for teens here at Central, and if you attended any of our Summer Reading Club activities this past season, the odds are good that we've already met.

Just recently, I read through James Patterson's first attempt at writing for teens with the Maximum Ride trilogy, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. In the first book, Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, Patterson introduces us to all the main players, including a family of kids (ranging in age from 6-16) who have all had avian (bird) DNA mixed with their own to give them the power of flight, along with a whole host of other special "gifts." They are on a mission to rescue the youngest member of their flock after she is kidnapped by the same mad scientists that created them in the first place. As the bird-kids attempt to find their missing sister, they are constantly pursued by a group of vicious man-wolf hybrids, known only as "erasers," whose sole purpose seems to be capturing and/or killing the escaped flock, before they inadvertently reveal themselves to the world. This story is continued (and made even more interesting) in the subsequent books, School's Out Forever and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, also by James Patterson, when the flock's leader, 16 year old Max (that's short for Maximum, btw) finds out the reasons why she and her friends were created, and what their lives are really meant to be. If you enjoy fast-paced chases, evil take-over-the-world-type scientists and well-written, snarky dialogue, check out this series and you won't be disappointed.

I am now working my way through the books of R.A. Salvatore, noted fantasy author for both teens and adults, and I cannot recommend highly enough the Legend of Drizzt series, featuring the well-known drow ranger, Drizzt Do'Urden (featured in the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance video games for PS2, as well as the Icewind Dale games for PC) and his companions. If you are a fan of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for D&D, or a fan of high-fantasy in general, they are definitely worth a look.

I also have to take this opportunity to recommend the books by J.R.R. Tolkien to anyone that hasn't already read them. If you enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies, you will be truly blown away by reading everything that director Peter Jackson was forced to leave out. From the maddeningly stick-in-your-head songs of Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring, to the detailed carnage that accompanies the Battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers, and all the way home again, with the scouring of the Shire by Saruman and Wormtongue at the end of The Return of the King, the books are soooo much better than the movies. (But isn't that always the case?) Follow that up with the Silmarillion, the Books of Lost Tales and the new Children of Hurin, and Mr. Tolkien can keep you lost in the legends of Middle Earth forever.

So what do you think? Write back and let us know what teen authors you most enjoy, or what books we at the library should read and review next. Until next time - Happy Reading!

Originally posted by James on November 6, 2007

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