June 21st, 2010

Stupid teenage tricks

Is Youtube inadvertently leading to more teens doing dangerous things so they can tape them and then post them online? It seems possible. The New York Times says, “some doctors say that at the very least, the Internet is causing adolescents to ratchet up the danger level. A few weeks ago, Dr. E. Hani Mansour, a burn specialist in Livingston, N.J., treated a teenager who had been severely burned after lighting fireworks. This was not your father’s fireworks accident. The boy had filled the family bathtub with fireworks, covered his body in protective clothing and set up a video camera to record the event. The resulting explosion, which the teenager later said he had hoped to post on YouTube, created a fireball that left the boy with burns on about 14 percent of his body.”

Read more about this disturbing trend here. And just as the Internet might have started the problem, the Internet might also provide the solution, according to a new study. “Megan A. Moreno, an adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Wisconsin, recently conducted a study in which a MySpace persona called Dr. Meg reached out to teenagers who used their pages to boast of drinking or sexual exploits. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” asked Dr. Meg, who went on to explain why they might want to remove the information. The note also warned them about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Teenagers contacted by Dr. Meg were twice as likely to remove references to sex or substance use during the next three months as those who weren’t contacted.”



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The Passage: Worthy of the hype?

It’s hard to remember a book that has been more hyped than Justin Cronin’s The Passage. I first heard about it at the Public Library Association annual meetings, where two folks were complaining that it had been hyped too much, and that at some point readers wanted to be able to discover the book for itself.

But Random House needs to earn back the three million or so it laid out for the book, which is the first in a trilogy. So they did things like develop a Web site for The Passage. Bookstores like it, at least according to the New York Times, which said, “So far, booksellers have expressed early and passionate enthusiasm. “The Passage” was chosen as an Indie Next List pick for June; Library Journal predicted that the book would be one of the most popular novels of the year; and Publishers Weekly raved, “Fans of vampire fiction who are bored by the endless hordes of sensitive, misunderstood Byronesque bloodsuckers will revel in Cronin’s engrossingly horrific account of a postapocalyptic America.”” (Read the rest of the article here.)

And I reviewed it for the Oregonian - although I didn’t even get a freebie ARC, but borrowed one from a librarian. Was it a perfect book? No. Did I think about it longingly when I wasn’t reading it? Hell, yes! Read my review in the Oregonian here.



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A teenager is just like a book

Teen turned 15 on Friday. And on Sunday, I sent my latest book off to my editor.

Kids and books have a lot in common:
- You can't believe how much work they are.
- You can't wait until they are able to venture off into the world on their own.
- But once that day comes, you find yourself worrying about them, obsessing about their welfare. Will everyone love them as much as you do?
- And when they are out and about, doing their thing, the house is oddly empty.



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Conflict is key

The key to making any book interesting is conflict. If there’s no conflict, why would we want to read it?

I was looking at one of those full page ads that vanity presses take out in the New York Times Sunday book review, ads the poor deluded "authors" probably paid through the nose for. Even ignoring terms like “fictional novel” that pepper these descriptions, why would anyone want to read the children’s book “Timmy the Titmouse [Full disclosure: name and species of creature changed to protect the innocent]” which is described thusly: “During his adventure, Timmy learns he can be friends with anyone. He also decides to be nice to everyone at every opportunity. Great Book!”

It’s hard for me to believe that anyone would buy this book, even people who don’t have children and think they are all ill-behaved.



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