So Yesterday is a 2005 novel from Scott Westerfield. You might have read the Uglies series? It is narrated from the perspective of a 'cool hunter' called Hunter, but his side kick is the much more interesting. She is called Jen, and she's an 'innovator'. While Hunter is on the lookout for the latest trend, Jen is creating them. He first notices her because of her shoelaces and the rising sun pattern she has tied them in.
Again set in Manhattan, this tale is a race to find a disappearing boss, and solve the puzzle of an amazing pair of sneakers.
This is a pacey read that early teens would enjoy. Westerfield plays with the readers pop-cultural intelligence by not product placing any brand names in the text. For example: 'the client' is never named, but the reader can fill the gaps with the Greek goddess of victory ubiquitious shoe. His credit card is a four letter word! These little riddles are humourous and entertaining. But more than that there are informative sidebars into subjects like epidermiology to make points about consumerism and the spread of 'cool.'
I think this would appeal to teens who are consumer and advertsing aware, who might have been exposed to texts about coolhunting before, like the documentary The Merchants Of Cool, or web based organisations like Adbusters. Kids are culturejammers at heart; they hate the idea that they are a cog in the consumerist machine. And this entertaining read would touch that nerve.
- research an innovator (there's a list in the back of the novel)
- invent some brand names
- invent a cool new product and pitch it