Saturday, December 28, 2013

Trending YA Entertainment: 2013 - 2014

As a father of three who also works with youth, I have seen the power of entertainment to shape one's perspective of the world. Almost two years ago, I began posting reviews of the stories that most directly impact a primarily young adult audience. My goal is not to critique the art form as much as look at the worldview in the stories. Why do these stories resonate? What messages are teens absorbing?

Because my time is limited, I focus on popular trending books, films and TV shows. I freely admit to avoiding teen romances - but they aren't being turned into movies, are they? Dystopias, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and superheroes seem to be where all the action is right now. I, for one, will not complain.

I am confident that my perspective is imperfect; nonetheless, I hope this blog can create a resource that encourages critical thinking, serious reflection, conversation, and clarity as we navigate the competing worldviews around us. Feel free to weigh in with any of your thoughts!


Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games:  J.W. Wartick gives a good overview of the film version of Catching Fire; click here for a perspective on the entire series and here for an article that will provide multiple links for insights based on The Hunger Games and Philosophy. 

Veronica Roth's Divergent:  The book was excellent; I hope the movie lives up to the hype.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game:  Once again, J.W. Wartick gives a great summary of the film; my review looks at the story from a different angle.

Max Brook's World War ZThe book is brilliant.  Seriously. The movie vaguely resembled it.

Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies:  A surprisingly deep story of love and human nature.  The book was written for adults; the movie aims for a YA crowd. The content matches the target audience in each.

Beautiful Creatures: A riveting story that left a lot of unanswered questions and a little uneasiness.

The Mortal Instruments: The book was a glittering mess. Engaging, flashy, and epic, its moral center did not hold.

Joe Hill's Horns: Stephen King's extremely talented son has written the most disturbing young adult book I have readIt's dark, vulgar, and ultimately hopeless, though there is a sort of crude justice that shows up throughout the book. And Frodo got the nod for the movie?

Joseph Delaney's The Last Apprentice: The upcoming movie version (Seventh Son) looks great; the book on which it is based is okay.

Joseph Finder's Paranoia: The movie bombed in spite of being headlined by some some heavy hitters. As interesting as the book was, it didn't feel like a YA book, and the ending left a lot to be desired.


Neil Shusterman's Unwind: I highly recommend this brilliant analysis of the culture of abortion.

Jonathan Mayberry's Rot and Ruin series: After reading and reviewing the first two, I bought the next two for my boys for Christmas. It's a great series that takes the zombie genre and turns it into a compelling story of character, heroism, and nobility.

Paolo Bacigalupi's The Drowned Cities:  Excellent book. It's violent and grim, but it give a thought-provoking and honest look at war, idealism, science, politics, and human nature.

Allie Condie's Matched series:  A solid-but-not-spectacular dystopic story overshadowed by The Hunger Games and the Divergent series.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean At The End Of The Lane:  A riveting blend of mythology, religion, good, and evil that topped the Goodreads Fantasy category in 2013.

James Dashner's The Maze Runner trilogy: Though the first book is clever, I didn't care for the series overall.  Based on its incredible popularity, I am clearly in the minority.

Aprillynne Pike's Wings: A light, saccharine story of a girl who is actually a fairy and the boys who love her.

Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hand and Teeth and Sarah Mass's Throne of Glass: Both feature strong female heroines who became increasingly less compelling as the story unfolds. Perhaps their unfolding series will accomplish more than the initial books.


The Walking Dead - It's one of the most popular shows on the AMC-can-do-no-wrong playlist. Here's a link to a series of posts that use The Walking Dead and Philosophy to look at the deeper issues in the gruesome but compelling show.

Man of Steel: I'm a sucker for Superman movies, I admit.

Star Trek: Heart of Darkness.  J.J. Abrams is doing some cool things with this franchise.

The Wolverine: It's a dark, violent, serious chapter in the Wolverine saga. Best viewed in light of the overall story arc.

This Is The End: The apocalypse had a busy year in entertainment. This raunchy movie did not target teens, but trust me - they saw it.


  1. enjoy ur life with fun and with entertainment :)


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