Book Article

Teen Playas

EW takes a closer look at young adult titles -- New teen novels tackle topics such as cross-dressing, drug use, and beer pong

Judy Blume, meet MTV's The Real World. Where once the protagonists of young-adult fiction simply pondered the prospect of sex, many of today's teen characters are actually doin'it! Though outlets like Wal-Mart may decline to stock some of the racier titles in their stores, there's a growing market for teen fiction (Barnes & Noble reports double-digit growth in YA sales in the past six years). And that's led to more envelope pushing for an easily jaded audience. ''These are the kids watching The O.C. on [Thursday] nights,'' notes FSG editor Wesley Adams. ''That's going to inform what they want to read.'' Here are four upcoming titles that teens might choose over a night with Seth and Summer.

Terence Blacker's Boy2Girl, for kids 12 and up, finds an American teen in London involved in a prank in which he must dress up as a girl. He's very convincing. Suggestive Content Hello? We're talking cross-dressing here. Sadly, not much else happens. (There are no Crying Game revelations.)

Jeremy Iverson's 21, for ages 16 and up, chronicles the 21st birthday party of frat boy Bret, during which he must consume 21 units of alcohol. Lessons might be learned along the way. Suggestive Content Heavy drinking (duh!), drug use, beer pong, girls making out for cash, a Pimps 'n' Hos party.

In John Green's Looking for Alaska, for ages 14 and up, a teen guy who likes to memorize the last words of famous dead people attends boarding school in Alabama and falls for a girl named Alaska. Suggestive Content Booze, porn, and a scene Green describes as ''a very bad, very unentertaining [oral sex act].''

Paul Ruditis' Rainbow Party, for ages 14 and up and due out in June, features a phenomenon famously explained on an episode of Oprah last year: Teenage girls + different-colored lipsticks + oral sex = rainbow! Suggestive Content Gay and straight oral sex, a teen flashing two older women in a pharmacy.

Originally posted Mar 07, 2005 Published in issue #810 Mar 11, 2005 Order article reprints
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