PUBLISHING TREND : Teen Nut Allergy Drama!

     The teen & YA publishing world loves "issues." Especially an "issue du jour." Like cutting, gender identity, obesity & anorexia, school shootings, etc. Kids are drawn to tragedy and sensationalism, and publishers capitalize on that.
     I think there may be an emerging trend of teen books about NUT ALLERGIES. Deadly ones. Here's why:
     I was just going through the December 2012 issue of VOYA, and discovered a review of Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed. It's a drama about a girl who eats a peanut butter sandwich, kisses a boy, and then the boy DIES because unbeknownst to the girl, he had a severe peanut allergy. But don't laugh! The reviewer refers to the book as a "...timely heartbreaker, designed to raise awareness about nut allergies..."
     From that same issue is Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe's Peanut, a graphic novel about a girl so desperate for popularity that she FAKES having a nut allergy, which results in an emergency medical scare involving paramedics, etc. So she's outed for NOT having nut allergies. To keep anyone from thinking the book is insensitive to those who DO have violent nut allergies, the book includes "information on what teens really go through having a life threatening food allergy." (Halliday has street cred, having created the well-known East Village Inky Zine, and writing for Bust magazine)
     I know that any kind of severe allergy is nothing to sneeze at, and I myself had to use a prescription inhaler for several years, still have to frequently pop Claritin-D, but come on. Peanuts are funny. Peanuts KILLING people is hard not to laugh at, isn't it? I am sorry. I would definitely read Halliday and Hoppe's Peanut before I'd try wading through Gurtler's Who I Kissed. But I'm sure many drama-seeking girls will love it.
     Maybe "peanut allergies" will be the next "paranormal romance!" All the teens will be clamoring for it.
     I'm trying to be sensitive, but we had a student with peanut allergies a few years ago, and at a school function he stupidly ate something that had actual obvious peanuts in it. Not just something prepared with or near peanuts, but PEANUTS sitting there IN it, not even trying to be sneaky. Anyway, he had a bad reaction, had to go to the hospital, etc. He was fine, but it was a major scene and we had to discuss awareness of nut allergies and food preparation for students. It was hard to be very sympathetic, though, because maybe the kid, who KNEW he was allergic to peanuts, should have NOT EATEN PEANUTS.
     So anyway, if you want to jump on the latest cutting-edge teen fiction trend, write something dramatic yet sensitive about the very real threat of NUT ALLERGIES. If you're REALLY ambitious, write a DYSTOPIAN teen novel about a future in which some murky government controls the populace by GIVING them peanut allergies through genetic engineering, and then controlling the food supply, thus being able to PUNISH those who disobey by slipping peanut oil into the food supply.
     Wait-- that's my idea. I should write that.

FAN SERVICE: not just for manga anymore

          The first time I noticed the term "fan service," it was on the back of a manga volume in the junior high library, in context like, "rated T for teen because of violence and mild fan service," or something to that effect. I had to ask a Japanese teacher friend to explain it to me. Not just because she's Japanese, she really was the biggest manga fan I knew at the time.
          She explained it in terms of Japanese boy bands, saying that it's when the boys pretend to be "romantic" with each other on stage, even though they're not really gay, or not really involved with each other. They just do it because their fans are mostly teenage girls who WANT to see them kissing or whatever. They just do it for show, to please the fans.
          It also applies to comics, like when they show female characters flashing their panties for no apparent reason. It certainly doesn't further the plot. It's just "fan service."
          Just now I was leafing through the new August 2011 VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates), and noticed a review that stated of a certain book, "gratuitous sexual crudity, female objectification, and fanservice may make this book a hard sell to parents and librarians." There was that damn phrase again! This time boldly smushed into one single word. And it was not even a comic book, it was a teen novel.
          I don't know how long they've been trotting this catchy term out in book reviews intended to help us library folk with collection development. Seems a little pretentious, doesn't it? They drop that term like we're all supposed to know what it means. Drop it like it's hot. Even though I DO happen to know what it means, I can guarantee you that plenty of other library people do NOT.
          In case you're wondering, the book tagged with "fanservice" in the new VOYA is The Robot by Paul E. Watson. It's about teenage boys who encounter a "super-realistic, sex-bomb of a robot, with no underpants..." I'm not even kidding.
Can you believe they did NOT put the robot chic with no panties on the cover?