Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Way or YA?

by Miriam

My “away” vacation this year was spent in the Outer Banks with my family, mostly eating, drinking and lounging on the beach (actual swimming was not really possible given the profusion of jellyfish). A couple of those days were also spent reading the last installment of Richelle Mead’s delightfully unputdownable (yes, I know, it’s not really a word, but it fits the bill) Spirit Bound. I could tell you that, by doing so, I was catching up on work – around here, we like to read books from each others’ lists so that we can speak intelligently about them at cocktail parties – but I’d be lying. In fact, I’d been hounding Jim McCarthy for a copy of the book to take with me, even though the ones the publisher had sent over were designated for rights sales. The reality is that ever since Jim urged me to read the first Vampire Academy book, I’ve been hooked on the series. Will Rose have to kill Dimitri? Will she be able to save him? Will Lissa and Christian work through their issues? The series is about serious teenage vampire angst with a body count and boasts a thoroughly engaging, kick-ass heroine, so as soon as I finish a book, I start bugging Jim for information about the next one. (He doesn’t find this annoying at all.)

As you all know by now, we like to think of ourselves as serious publishing professionals, but we’re also just big old geeky readers who can be sucked in by certain books like swimmers by a riptide. These days, it seems that a lot of the books dragging us out to sea are YA titles. I love Amanda Foreman’s quote about her love of YA books in this New York Times piece: “A lot of adult literature is all art and no heart, but good Y.A. is like good television. There’s a freshness there; it’s engaging. Y.A. authors aren’t writing about middle-aged anomie or ­disappointed people.” I think this perfectly explains the boom in this category in recent times and why it is adults are so captivated by literature meant for tweens and teens. Even when tackling difficult, dark subjects, the writing in this genre is all about possibility, about the ability to overcome obstacles and get to the other side. Who can resist that message and the edge-of-your-seat plot twists?

One of the takeaways for me is that the reason YA is so huge among adults right now may be that readers want good old-fashioned great storytelling that takes them away from their uncomfortable realities (the economy, the state of world affairs, global warming, the Kardashians) and makes them believe in possibility. What do you all think?

8 comments:

  1. I am hoping some teens will read my YA, but honestly, so far, almost all my readers who have contacted me have been adults! And what do they like about my book? Hope. They almost all cite the fact that it's got hope.

    That's why I read YA too.

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  2. I'm a huge VAMPIRE ACADEMY fan. I love the series. I'd say about 99% of what I read (and 100% of what I write) is YA. It's not just the engaging plots and the possibility, but it's also the angst and the emotional roller coaster that comes with teen life. Everything is more important, more dramatic. The characters feel more driven because the outcome means so much more.
    I am forever a fan of YA.

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  3. I have to agree wholeheartedly, and is the main factor of why I write. I want to entertain people, both adults and children with my stories. If I haven't entertained them to draw them away from reality for a while, then I have failed.

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  4. Great blog post title. Richelle was at the Surrey International Writers Conference (SiWC) last year. I bought a copy of her book for a friend of mine who would love to be a vampire!

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  5. "good old-fashioned great storytelling that takes them away from their uncomfortable realities"

    Boy, I sure hope so, because that's what I write. :D

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  6. I think that the current YA trend underestimates so many young people. My book was written for adults, yet my own young sons have read it multiple times, and my best friend's two children have read it twice. My book is filled with a mix of characters, young and old, just like in real life.

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  7. To be fair (if I must), the best "adult" books are good stories well told. One of my fellow train riders is reading Harry Potter and another Agatha Christie. It's gratifying to see how some stories are timeless.

    [Insert favorite diety] bless "geeky" readers.

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