Andre Norton’s YA novels

When I worked at a bookstore (the now defunct Walden Books), I had a co-worker that loved Andre Norton. I’d never read any of her books throughout High School, although I was certainly familiar with her name. I wish now that I did.

Norton wrote largely for what we now call the YA audience: teenagers, with fantastical adventures throughout numerous worlds and times. She was also largely ignored or dismissed for writing ‘children’s literature’, which is a shame, because it’s likely that she had as great an influence on the shape of the modern genre as Robert Heinlein, who’s Juvenile novels attracted millions of fans to new worlds. Norton was the same, and influenced countless readers and writers for decades. It’s fitting that the major SF award for YA fiction is titled The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Go read Andre Norton’s YA novels over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog.

4 thoughts on “Andre Norton’s YA novels”

  1. Andre Norton is one of the most influential writers ever. Probably the most influential to older women who write science fiction fantasy, and paranormal romance.

    When she became ill, I belonged to a group of female writers, many of whom are major names in fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romance. During our discussion about her, I was not so surprised to learn that every one of us over the age of forty got into writing because of Andre Norton. Her books were the first to have girls in them as important characters, and the girls stood right beside the male heroes in the fight. He could not win without her. That was earth-shattering to most of us and made us want to write stories with powerful girls in them.

    Norton wrote everything from Gothic to mystery to adult science fiction, and she wrote all of it well.

    Baen has reprinted many of her SF books, I also recommend the ANDRE NORTON MEGAPACK which an ebook only collection of some of her SF and early mysteries, and TALES FROM HIGH HALLACK: THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF ANDRE NORTON, VOLUME 1 which has many of her early short stories from anthologies and magazines.

  2. This part doesn’t sound right to me: “Throughout her school-aged years, Norton found herself deep in science-fiction stories, becoming enamored of Mary Shelley, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Robert Bloch.” Then it says she graduated from high school in 1930. I don’t think Heinlein and Asimov were getting published back then.

    I also don’t remember her having any female protagonists (as opposed to just non-viewpoint characters) until Year of the Unicorn in 1965, whereas the article implies that she had introduced them prior to the 1960s.

    Norton and Heinlein were both mainstays of my tweens. She had more exotic settings and more consistently enjoyable books, but his best two or three [juveniles] stuck in my memory a little more. But I have held onto my copies of Star Gate, Galactic Derelict, Star Rangers, Storm Over Warlock, and the first few Witch World books, so I can re-read them when my memories of them get too dim.

    1. I recall a number of strong female secondary/partner characters in her early books, but I can’t give exact tiles. One involved a dystopian disaster where the characters were trying to survive.

      THE GIFTS OF ASTI, 1948, has a female main character.

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