Gifts for Teens: YA Book Pairing

6 years ago

Still need ideas for family, friends, teachers, coworkers, bloggers, zombie lovers, special needs kids, app addicts, photographers, style mavens, or foodies? We've got you covered and then some with our gift guides, chosen by BlogHer staff, contributing editors and members. We wouldn't steer you wrong.

It's edging ever closer to December 25th and you still have a teen or two left to buy for on your list. My vote is, as always, for books. Books on their own might not be so thrilling, but a book paired with a companion item that is complementary to the novel is a winner.

Every other day I find yet another rave review for Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution. The book is set in Paris and flips back and forth between the modern day and Revolution-era France. Liz B from A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy named it one of her favorite reads of 2010 and let me tell you, she doesn't throw such distinctions around lightly. This is why she loved it:

Because the language is stunning. Because Andi and Truman, Alex and Louis-Charles haunt me. Because I am still wondering at the difference between stupid and brutal, brave and kind, and whether it matters. Because my reservations about the book are about only a handful of pages, and those handful do not outweigh the seeking of braveness and kindness in ourselves.

You see how what looks to be a red ribbon runs across both images on the cover and makes it look like both girls are wearing a red ribbon necklace? If I was gifting this book to a teenaged girl I'd run to my local craft store and get red satin or velvet ribbon and add an antique-looking key charm like the one that is on the UK cover of the book. Slide the key on the ribbon and you have either a necklace or a bookmark. Easy-peasy. Another option is 2007 Kristin Dunst film Marie Antoinette.

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan write fabulous books together and their latest, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, is no exception. Lily leaves a red moleskin with a trail of literary clues in it on the shelves at The Strand and Dash finds it and follows them. Then he leaves his own clues for Lily to find. The dares refer to the fact that they have to go to crowded locations (eg. FAO Schwartz) to pick up clues. Like me, Sarah thinks it was totally fun:

The plot was full of crazy antics and fun from the dare. I could not stop laughing at times. I also loved how the setting was all over New York. I think that this book was really original and unlike anything that I have ever read.

It reminds me of a Paula Danziger book called Remember Me to Harold Square in which three kids go on a six-week scavenger hunt in New York City. I think it would be fun to pair it with that but a red moleskin with an initial dare in it for your recipient would really be the perfect pairing, not to mention the start of a shared adventure.

So, do you have someone on your gift list that is really into computers? I mean really into them and thinks it would be the most awesome thing every to have a computer hooked up to your brain? Then look no further than Brain Jack by Brian Falkner. Sam hacks into a large telecommunications company and accidentally brings down world's infrastructure, then gets recruited by a secret government department and I did I mention there are a neuro-headsets that you can use to control your computer? Leila at Bookshelves of Doom didn't just call it fun, she called it wicked fun.

The hacking scenes, actually, are much more exciting than I'd have expected, and for a book that involves a lot of staring at computer screens (or having them beamed directly into one's brain -- YIKES), I found myself thinking, more than once, that this really would make a great movie.

Shades of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson and Doctor Who: How can you beat that?

Since neuro-headsets aren't really on the market, my first instinct would be to pair it with the first season of the television show Chuck or Dr. Who. I'd also be tempted by the 1969 classic, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. No, not the Kirk Cameron made for tv movie, the original with a young Kurt Russell.

While classics aren't for everyone there are still lots of people, including teens, who enjoy them. The market for retold classics is booming and Jane by April Lindner updates Brontë's tale by making Jane a college dropout and her employer a rock star on the verge of a comeback. It has all the romance, moodiness and mystery of the original. Angieville had a hard time putting it down.

Reader, I loved this book so much I can't stop thinking about it. I had such a gut feeling about Jane from the first time I heard about it and it really is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world when your first uninformed impressions of a book come true. It was honestly difficult putting this one down at night and then getting through the next day all the way until reading time once more.

While I've never quite understood Mr. Rochester's appeal I do have a fondness for BBC period dramas that stems from my own teens. I've been told that if I saw the BBC's 2005 version of Jane Eyre I'd be better able to understand why Rochester is so swoon-worthy. I'd also be tempted to pair it with another book, Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and a stuffed dodo or dodo t-shirt, but I have been told I sometimes have an odd sense of humor.

Let's talk zombies. Zombies are awesome (though not as awesome as unicorns). Have you ever wondered what would happen if famous people were zombies? That's what Alan Goldsher did with his novel Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion. I can tell you it has one of the grossest and vivid descriptions I've read for how to turn someone into a zombie, which is sure to be a plus with some zombie fans. Mick Jagger is a zombie hunter. The book is made of zombie awesomeness. Cheryl called it "a zombie chomping, brain munching, gut busting, good time!"

This book is a double-hitter. It works for both zombie fans and Beatles fans. If you a gifting a zombie fan the easy pairing is a couple of the Beatles remastered CDs. For the Beatles fan I'd pair it with another book, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks. They'll want to know what to do if they ever run into an undead John Lennon in a dark alley.

Contributing Editor Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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