Young Adult Fiction

The May 2006 issue of Locus Magazine has a fascinating feature story on young adult fiction. They give the statistics that roughly shows that the number of YA genre titles published has more than doubled in the last ten years.

They also capture thoughts on the YA market from some people in the YA community. I found some of their comments to be very interesting and thought I’d share some of them. Keep in mind that (1) these are my summations of their words, and (2) this is a small subset of a very interesting feature – Buy the latest issue of Locus Magazine to see more.

Author Ursula K. Le Guin’s thoughts on YA:

  • Authors and parents need to be responsible when presenting fiction to kids; some of it can be age-inappropriate.
  • Like science fiction itself, young adult fiction is often dismissed by people who haven’t read it.
  • Young adults are great to write for because they are very vocal and provide good feedback.


Author Jonathan Stroud on the YA novel:

  • “Young Adult” is a shiny new term for carefully designed to prevent proper grown-ups feeling embarrassed reading kids’ fiction. But the term is patronizing in that it implies of limited scope and ambition, an immaturity of book and reader, when often the reverse is true.
  • There are two possible definitions of YA: (1) A story that features a child protagonist, and (2) A story accessible to a young reader. Neither definition excludes adults from enjoying the book. (He cites Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea as an example that fits both definitions but is rich and satisfying for adults.)
  • Fantasies have always been transitional texts, regardless of the author’s intent.
  • There is no doubting the importance of fantasy in keeping children reading when they are tempted to stop.
  • Why are most commercially successful titles written for children? No padding and the nostalgia of a books newness.

Critic Farah Mendleson:

  • In the last year of reading, she has struggled to find science fiction written especially for children and young adults that offered scientific, social or political challenges. She sites William Sleator as the only to offer scientific challenges; mathematical in this case.
  • She reviews 15 titles that make children think about the world instead of families/emotions/boyfriends.

Also:

  • Author Garth Nix has a dislike for categorization; a good book is a good book regardless of how it’s classified.
  • Author Jane Yolen says YA readers say they want happy endings, but actually demand the Scouring of the Shire, King aRthur Betrayed and Charlotte dying.
  • Editor Sharyn November says that after Harry Potter, YA fiction books became more acceptable to adults and publishers, in turn, repackaged YA titles to appeal to adults.
  • Author Julie Czerneda says that YA short fiction is bait on a hook; if it’s done well, readers will come back for more.

Related to the Young Adult feature, this same issue of Locus also has an interviews with YA authors Scott Westerfeld and Kenneth Oppel. All told, another fine issue.