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Trading Places: A Gender-Swap YA Wish List

FYA makes like Stephenie Meyer and imagines gender-swapped versions of YA books! (Never let it be said that Twilight isn't a trendsetter.)

Trading Places: A Gender-Swap YA Wish List

So the big news yesterday was that Stephenie Meyer wrote a gender-swapped version of Twilight for its tenth anniversary. Which got FYA HQ thinking about the books we would actually want to be gender-swapped (and which ones would probs do it to much better effect than Beau and Edythe*). 

*I've never read Twilight (I know!), so I'll refrain from commenting on the books. BUT EDYTHE? Y'all, remember what happened to the popularity of the name Bella when Twilight first hit the scene? Edythe?!? WHAT HATH YOU WROUGHT NOW, STEPHENIE MEYER? 

Anyway. We picked a few YA books to gender-swap the blurbs of, swapping all gendered words but also only making changes when necessary, like for names, pronouns, and gendered objects (e.g., bras, gowns). That means descriptions that are traditionally more associated with femininity or masculinity (e.g., beautiful, handsome) were not changed, and -- as much as I wanted to so badly -- books that didn't feature LGBTQ characters to begin with were not changed to include any.

On a related note, there are no titles listed with transgender or non-binary characters. (I'm sorry! Y'all already get excluded from so much, and it's not that I don't want to include you, but I also don't want to make insensitive swaps.) The swaps are also all exclusively between female and male, even though there are obvs a lot more possible combinations when considering all genders.

Without further ado: here is FYA's wish list of gender-swapped books!

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, reimagined as Are You There, God? It's Me, Marshall (picked by Kandis)

Kandis:  Surely boys need the embarrassing first wet dream companion book to go with our embarrassing first period bible?

Marshall Simon, almost twelve, has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and he's anxious to fit in with his new friends. When he's asked to join a secret club he jumps at the chance. But when the boys start talking about girls, bacne, and getting their first wet dreams, Marshall starts to wonder if he's normal. There are some things about growing up that are hard for him to talk about, even with his friends. Lucky for Marshall, he's got someone else to confide in... someone who always listens.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, reimagined as Arignote and Donatella Discover the Secrets of the Universe (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  I tried to think of books that were very 'boy' or 'girl' books, in terms of content and/or characters, so this recent FYA Book Club pick came to mind. Plus, I didn't think it was possible, but I managed to make the title even longer!

Arignote is an angry teen with a sister in prison. Donatella is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Donatella will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (picked by Kandis)

Kandis:  Between this and Supernatural, I'm ready for some badass sisters to take their demon hunting on the road.

Mandy W.:  Sorry, Tom Welling lookalike cover model. You're about to be out of a job. 

Sixteen-year-old Nicki and her sister, Alison, are always ready to run. Their mother is dead, and their father is crazy—he screams if Nicki gets near him. He’s no help in protecting any of them from the deadly magicians who use demons to work their magic. The magicians want a charm that Nicki’s father stole—and they want it badly enough to kill. Alison is Nicki’s partner in demon slaying and the only person she trusts in the world. So things get very scary and very complicated when Nicki begins to suspect that everything Alison has told her about their mother, their father, their past, and what they are doing is a complete lie. . . .

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, reimagined as Fanboy (Fanbro?) (picked by Jennie)

Mandy W.:  Clearly, we have Rainbow Rowell on the brain this week. 

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Carl is a Sarah Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Sarah Snow fan...

But for Carl, being a fan is his life—and he’s really good at it. He and his twin brother, Lyle**, ensconced themselves in the Sarah Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their father leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Sarah Snow forums, writing Sarah Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Carl’s brother has mostly grown away from fandom, but Carl can’t let go. He doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Lyle has told Carl he doesn’t want to be roommates. Carl is on his own, completely outside of his comfort zone. He’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around girlfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And he can’t stop worrying about his mom, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Carl, the question is: Can he do this?

Can he make it without Lyle holding his hand? Is he ready to start living his own life? Writing his own stories?

And does he even want to move on if it means leaving Sarah Snow behind?

**If you remember the story behind the twins' names, you'll know why I changed Wren's so much! -MW

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  Andrew Smith got in a bit of hot water earlier this year for comments he made about writing female characters, but I absolutely think his books could work with female leads. Girls can be horny and kill bugs, too! 

Sixteen-year-old Ania Szerba interweaves the story of her Polish legacy with the story of how she and her best friend, Ruby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Ania's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Ania is in love with her boyfriend, Shane, but remains confused about her sexual orientation. She's stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Ruby and Shane. Ultimately, it's up to Ania to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, reimagined as Harriet Potter (picked by Mandy C.)

Mandy C.:  ... Is it sacrilegious to say Harry Potter? Now I'm pondering if the secondary characters will be swapped too ... Harry/Draco slash would never the the same.

Harriet Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harriet Potter thinks she is an ordinary girl. She lives with her Aunt Vera, Uncle Phineas and cousin Darlene, who are mean to her and make her sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Darlene, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all her toys and games.) Then Harriet starts receiving mysterious letters and her life is changed forever. She is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a woman and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harriet Potter is a witch!

Lord of the Flies by William Golding, reimagined as Lady of the Flies (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  I've never read this or even seen an adaptation of it, but what little I do know of it, I'd like it to be retold with all girls. 

William Golding's compelling story about a group of very ordinary small girls marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first, it seems as though it's all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious & life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic & death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the girls know collapses with them—the world of cricket & homework & adventure stories—& another world is revealed beneath, primitive & terrible. Lady of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was 1st published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought & literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lady of the Flies has established itself as a classic.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (picked by Mandy C.)

Mandy C.:  Because it would be fun/frightening to see one guy among all those girls.

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Tamara wakes up in the lift, the only thing she can remember is her name. She’s surrounded by strangers—girls whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a boy arrives. The first boy ever. And the message he delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, reimagined as Me and Joy and the Dying Boy (picked by Posh)

Posh:  I'd love to see young women aspiring to be filmmakers. We need more ladies behind the camera in Hollywood!

Gina Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. She has only one friend, Joy, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Gina’s father forces her to rekindle her childhood friendship with Ross.

Ross has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Ross stops treatment, Gina and Joy decide the thing to do is to make a film for him, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Gina must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, reimagined as The Raven Girls (picked by Meredith)

Meredith:  Mostly because I think it's funny to imagine a teen boy in crochet leggings.

Posh:  THE RAVEN GIRLS YESSSSS. With Ginny and Rhonda driving sweet cars.

Mandy W.:  #SaveGinny.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Reeve said. “Either you’re her true love . . . or you killed her.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to his clairvoyant father as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue himself never sees them—not until this year, when a girl emerges from the dark and speaks directly to him.

Her name is Ginny, and Blue soon discovers that she is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby girls. Known as Raven Girls, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Ginny, in a way he can’t entirely explain. She has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but she’s looking for much more than that. She is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Girls: Anna, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around her; Rhonda, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Nia, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as he can remember, Blue has been warned that he will cause his true love to die. He never thought this would be a problem. But now, as his life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Girls, he’s not so sure anymore.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  This is one of the 'girliest' books I could think of (absolutely no shade; there is nothing wrong with being girlie or being not girlie), so I thought it'd make for an interesting gender-swap. Although I think the actual series is sort of already doing that, so Kiera Cass had the same idea as me!

For thirty-five boys, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering garments and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Princess Maxine.

But for Austin Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning his back on his secret love with Arden, who is a caste below him. Leaving his home to enter a fierce competition for a crown he doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then Austin meets Princess Maxine. Gradually, he starts to question all the plans he's made for himself—and realizes that the life he's always dreamed of may not compare to a future he never imagined.

Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  No matter how much the Wakefield twins change, I'm sure our drinking game rules will still get plenty of play. 

Double Love

Will Jesse steal Tonya from Lars?

Lars and Jesse Wakefield are identical twins at Sweet Valley High. They're both popular, smart, and gorgeous, but that's where the similarity ends. Lars is friendly, outgoing, and sincere -- nothing like his snobbish and conniving twin. Jesse gets what he wants -- at school, with friends, and especially with girls.

This time, Jesse has set his sights on Tonya Wilkins, the handsome star of the basketball team -- the one girl that Lars really likes. Lars doesn't want to lose her, but what Jesse wants, Jesse usually gets ... even if it ends up hurting his brother.

Meet the Wakefield twins, their gals, and the rest of the gang at Sweet Valley High....

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, reimagined as The Time Traveler's Husband (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  Not YA (and parts of the plot can't be directly gender swapped), but The Time Traveler's Wife because ladies rarely get to time travel!*** LET RACHEL MCADAMS TIME TRAVEL.

Meredith:  Yeah, any title that's "[profession]'s [female relation]".

Audrey Niffenegger's dazzling debut is the story of Clark, a beautiful, strong-minded art student, and Hannah, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clark was six and Hannah was thirty-six, and were married when Clark was twenty-three and Hannah thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Hannah is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: her genetic clock randomly resets and she finds herself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from her life, past and future. Her disappearances are spontaneous and unpredictable, and lend a spectacular urgency to Clark and Hannah's unconventional love story. That their attempt to live normal lives together is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control makes their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

***Thanks for fighting the good fight, Outlander!

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, reimagined as To All the Girls I've Loved Before (picked by Mandy W.)

Mandy W.:  What would one of my fave YA romances be like if it starred a boy instead of a girl? Still pretty cute! 

To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before is the story of Jean Luc, who has never openly admitted his crushes, but instead wrote each girl a letter about how he felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under his bed. But one day Jean Luc discovers that somehow his secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all his crushes from his past to confront him about the letters: his first kiss, the girl from summer camp, even his brother's ex-girlfriend, Joss. As he learns to deal with his past loves face to face, Jean Luc discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, reimagined as Willa Grayson, Willa Grayson (picked by Posh)

Posh:  Because John Green's boy protagonists can get a little whiny, and the world needs a Tina Cooper.

Amanda R.:  I'm imagining Tina Cooper to be a HUGE Joan Jett fan. That would make for one hell of a musical finale.

Willa Grayson meets Willa Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.

It's not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Willa Grayson and Willa Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Willa Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old - including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tina Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire - Willa and Willa begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.

Which books would y'all like to see gender-swapped? Let us know in the comments!

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.