Here at FYA, we use highly scientific methods to analyze teen literature and separate the awesome from the meh. Obvs this is v. complicated stuff, so here's a breakdown of how we evaluate books.
Whoever said "don't judge a book by its cover" was a BIG OLE LIAR PANTS. It doesn't help that YA is notorious for featuring covers that should never be allowed to see the light of day. We consider it a public service to warn you if the front of a book is totally mortifying, esp. so you can go ahead and bring a brown bag with you to the library or book store. YOU'RE WELCOME.
BFF Charm: Yay or Nay?
There's nothing worse than reading a novel about a stupid, lame-o character. Therefore, it's important to ask, upon finishing a book: would I invite this person to sit at my lunch table? Ask them over for a slumber party? Pass them funny notes in class? These are the types of hard hitting questions that get to the heart of whether a book is awesome (or not).
Swoonworthy Scale: 1 to 10 (Get me to a nunnery <--> I think I'm going have this book's baby)
Look, we can freely admit that the main reason we read YA is for the romance. There's nothing so pure, so real, so gosh darn TINGLY as that first high school crush, and the awkwardness and uncertainty of adolescence just makes it that much sweeter. And yeah, there's also a ton of angst, but as an adult reader, it's refreshing to escape into a world where the most pressing concerns involve deciphering boy behavior and figuring out how to kiss without too much drool.
Let's face it. A lot of YA authors try too hard when it comes to dialogue. Whether it's Britney Spears references or ridiculously dramatic descriptions of a boy's cheekbones, there are tons of conversational pitfalls in the YA genre, which is why it's so refreshing when a writer actually (gasp!) captures an authentic teenage voice. Consequently, a rating of "Straight Up" or "2 Legit 2 Quit" is obviously a v. high honor.
Everyone has a list of things that make them squee. In order to account for unique preferences, we've included this "wild card" category. Examples of factors include Duckie (i.e. a charming boy best friend with potential), Mysterious Loner Dude (i.e. Jordan Catalano), and fine arts camp/school (cos artsy dorks are the coolest. Esp. if they can dance!!!).
Since Hollywood's getting all into YA books-turned-movies, we thought it would be fun to offer our own suggestions for lead characters. Since, you know, we're experts.
Rather than using stars or a numerical system, neither of which really captures how we *feel* about a book, we've decided to sum up our judgement in typical teenage fashion: do we *like* this book? Do we like LIKE this book? Do we actually want to spend all of eternity with this book because OMG LOVE? Or will we totally avoid it in the hallways cos it's really pesky and annoying and we wish we'd never said hi to it in the first place?!!
So yeah, relationship status... speaks volumes.