To today's teenagers, books set in the 90s seem like historical fiction. I know -- seriously?
The 90s don't seem that long ago. Who can forget club kids and raves? Beanie Babies. The Spice Girls. High waisted, acid-washed jeans. Scrunchies and banana clips. Flannel. Dawson's Creek. Parachute pants. "Rachel" hair. Overalls. Boy bands.
While I think that a lot of YA has 90s influences, there aren't a ton of YA books that are actually set in the 90s. Given the demographic of YA readers, I think there should be more. Some of us would love to relive the 90s. And actual teenagers are fascinated by the idea of a primitive world without Facebook, iPods, and texting.
Below is my round-up of 90s YA. Tomorrow on Freebie Friday, you can help me relive those days -- or make fun of them-- and you can win a paperback of Drain You by M. Beth Bloom or an ARC of Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone.
by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Published by Razorbill
November 11, 2011
The year? 1996
My review (from Goodreads December 2011)
I laughed out loud as I read The Future of Us and remembered the brave new world of computers in 1996. I'd forgotten that, back in the 90s, you couldn't be on the internet and the phone at the same time.
This book is about two friends, Josh and Emma. Emma gets a new computer and an AOL CD-ROM. When she puts the disc into her computer, and logs onto Facebook, she can see her future ... and Josh's. She's not entirely happy with what she sees, so she starts to try to change the future. And of course, we all know from time travel movies, that can be a dangerous thing!
Best 90s reference? dial up internet, pagers
by Meagan Brothers
Published by Henry Holt BFYR
on April 24, 2012
The year? Unclear. There are VCRs and subway tokens. Kurt Cobain and Jeff Buckley have died, so ... late 1990s?
I liked Meagan Brothers' first book, Debbie Harry Sings In French, and I was excited to read this one. Supergirl Mixtapes is a gritty contemporary read that doesn't sugarcoat either the 90s or the adolescent experience. Sixteen year-old Maria has always been curious about her mother, a talented artist who left her husband and young daughter to live in New York City.
When Maria arrives in Manhattan, she's swept up into the excitement of it all. Travis, her mom's 22 year-old boyfriend, shows her around the downtown scene. She meets Gram, a college guy, at a record store, and he seems really into her. But then reality starts to seep in. Her classmates at school are more into Mariah Carey and the Spice Girls than Sonic Youth and Sleater-Kinney. Maria wants to get to know her mom, but her mother disappears a lot. Maria also hasn't told Gram that she's just in high school. As things start to fall apart, Maria will have to face some hard truths about her mother and herself.
Best 90s references? Repo Man, Beavis and Butthead
by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by Hyperion
On October 9, 2012
The year: 1995
Anna lives in Chicago in 1995. She's drawn to Bennett, the new kid in school, who frustrates her with his erratic behavior, then finally tells her a secret: he's from the future. He's traveled into the 1990s, trying to find a missing person, when he falls in love with Anna. With almost two decades of time and half a continent between them, can the two of them ever find happiness?
Best 90s References? All of them are musical -- Pearl Jam, Blink-182, Smashing Pumpkins...
by M. Beth Bloom
Published by HarperTeen
On July 24, 2012
The year: unclear. But again, Kurt Cobain has died, so post-1994.
Quinlan "Quinn" Lacey is a 1990s L.A. princess, an only child who sulks her way through shifts at the video store and torments her co-worker Morgan with her skimpy outfits and her refusal to acknowledge his infatuation. She's spoiled and bored, the VJ of her own MTV universe. One night after work, she spots a classmate, Naomi Sheets, crying by the side of the road. But when she meets James, Naomi's mysterious brother, Quinn has finally met her match. He's frustratingly unavailable, enigmatically aloof. But no one denies Quinn anything, so she sets out to have him. She doesn't even care that he's part of a sinister world of the undead.
Best 90s references? Too many to name. Of all the books above, I think Drain You is the one that's really steeped in the 90s.
Did I miss any YA books set in the 90s? Let me know in comments! And be sure to stop by Freebie Friday tomorrow so you can get a chance to win your choice of Time Between Us, Drain You, or Supergirl Mix Tapes.