Weaving the Digital World into Young Adult Fiction: Internet Dating, Gaming, and Blogging

Ten years from now, little excitement may be generated by a story told in a digital communication style if it has no other merit – just as now we are used to books written in the form of diary entries or letters. Today, IM (Instant Messaging) and Blogs have followed Email and crept into YA fiction, drawing people’s attention because of the fresh format. Titles below, listed chronologically, are written in a variety of digital communication formats, or at least have such communications as part of the narrative. Included are a few titles that incorporate the digital game world. When available, books held at the UIUC Library are listed with location and call number.

Many of the titles have been gathered from listserv discussions on “YA lit and digital communication” at child_lit listserv (http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~mjoseph/childlit/about.html) Jan. 2006.

At the end of this post is a list of LC Subject Headings that are assigned to fiction either written in or related to digital communications.
Romiette and Julio / Sharon M. Draper. 236 p.
Atheneum Books, 1999.
Romiette, an African-American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy, discover that they attend the same high school after falling in love on the Internet, but are harassed by a gang whose members object to their interracial dating.
[Education Storage] S.D791r

Ultimate Game: A Novel / Christian Lehmann; translated from the French by William Rodarmor. 178 p.
D.R. Godine, 2000.
When three high-school-age video game fanatics play a grossly underpriced, new virtual reality game, each is transported to the battlefields of different times.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award Honor Book
[Education Storage] S.L5281n:E

Hot Mail / Tessa Duder & William Taylor. 179 p.
Penguin Books, 2000.
A novel in emails.

Snail Mail No More / Paula Danziger & Ann M. Martin. 307 p.
Scholastic, 2000.
Sequel to P.S. Longer Letter Later. Thirteen-year-old Tara and Elizabeth use email to “talk” about everything that is occurring in their lives and to try to maintain their closeness as they face big changes.
[CCB] S.D238s

The Gospel According to Larry / Janet Tashjian. 227 p.
Henry Holt, 2001.
Seventeen-year-old Josh, a loner-philosopher who wants to make a difference in the world, tries to maintain his secret identity as the author of a web site that is receiving national attention. Do not miss its sequel Vote for Larry (S. T181v) if you like this one.
[CCB; Education S Collection] S.T181g

Heir Apparent / Vivian Vande Velde. 315 p.
Harcourt, 2002.
While playing a total immersion virtual reality game of kings and intrigue, fourteen-year-old Giannine learns that demonstrators have damaged the equipment to which she is connected, and she must win the game quickly or be damaged herself.
[CCB; Education S Collection] S.V28h

Once upon a Marigold / Jean Ferris. 266 p.
Harcourt, 2002.
This is not about the digital world. In this fairy tale, the hero and the princess communicate by carrier pigeon, a technological advance known as “p-mail.”
[CCB; Education S Collection] S.F417o

Ttyl / Lauren Myracle. 209 p.
Amulet Books, 2004.
Chronicles, in “instant message” format, the day-to-day experiences, feelings, and plans of three friends, Zoe, Maddie, and Angela, as they begin tenth grade.
[CCB] S. M996t

Donorboy: A Novel / Brendan Halpin. 209 p.
Villard, c2004.
Told entirely through e-mail, instant messaging, journal entries, and other random communications.
2005 Alex Awards Winner.
[Main Stacks] 813 H1642d

The Year of Secret Assignments / Jaclyn Moriarty. 340 p.
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2004.
Set in Australia, this novel told entirely in letters, diary entries, e-mails, bulletin-board announcements, etc. about three female students from Ashbury High writing to three male students from rival Brookfield High as part of a pen pal program.
[CCB; Education S Collection] S. M824y

Heart on My Sleeve / Ellen Wittlinger. 219 p.
Simon & Schuster, 2004.
From the end of high school to the beginning of college, Chloe and Julian deal with major changes in their families and friendships and explore their feelings for each other through emails, letters, and a visit.
[CCB] S. W786he

Rob & sara.com / P.J. Petersen and Ivy Ruckman. 210 p.
Delacorte, 2004.
Rob, who lives at a school for troubled teenagers, and Sara, the sixteen-year-old daughter of an army colonel, meet in a poetry chat-room and develop a close relationship via email.
[CCB] S. P4422ro

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez / by Judy Goldschmidt. 202 p.
Razorbill, 2005.
In a weblog she sends to her best friends back in Berkeley, seventh-grader Raisin Rodriguez chronicles her successes and her more frequent humiliating failures as she attempts to make friends at her new Philadelphia school. Its sequel Raisin Rodriguez & the Big-Time Smooch (S. G572r) is also told in blog form.
[CCB] S. G572s

Confessions of a Boyfriend Stealer (a Blog) / Robynn Clairday. 228 p.
Delacorte, 2005.
Florida high school junior and aspiring documentary film-maker Genesis Bell’s blog tells the true story of the unbelievable events that caused the breakup of her friendship with her two best friends.
[Education S Collection] S. C525c

Click Here: (to Find out How I Survived Seventh Grade) / Denise Vega. 211 p.
Little, Brown, 2005.
Seventh-grader Erin Swift writes about her friends and classmates in her private blog, but when it accidentally gets posted on the school Intranet site, she learns some important lessons about friendship.
[CCB] S. V521c

Bad Kitty / Michele Jaffe. 268 p.
HarperCollins, 2006.
While vacationing with her family in Las Vegas, seventeen-year-old Jasmine stumbles upon a murder mystery that she attempts to solve with the help of her friends, with whom she communicates via IM from time to time.

Subject Headings:
Computer games–Juvenile fiction.
Electronic mail messages–Fiction.
Electronic mail systems–Fiction.
Email — Fiction.
Instant messaging–Fiction.
Virtual reality–Fiction.
Web sites–Fiction.

(Written, compiled and submitted by Minjie Chen, doctoral student in Library & Information Science)