Thoughts from a Discerning Reader

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More on YA books--the good and the mediocre

In my last post, I wrote about Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl which wasn't impressing me with its genuine depiction of real teenagers. Well, I finished that particular book and then read Rebecca Stowe's Not the End of the World . I have to say, the Stowe book was impressive. It chronicles the story of Maggie Pitsfield, a troublewd twelve-year-old girl, and the terrible secret she harbors. In the Stowe novel, the author actually does get the voice right. I just want to hug Maggie and tell her everything will be OK, and that's the sign of a good book, when the author can, with great skill, make me care about the characters.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Young Adult fiction

So this is my first post ever. I've played around with Blogspot before, but finally decided to get serious and just start posting my thoughts about what I'm reading. As I read everything from young adult fair to erotic romance, hopefully someone somewhere will get something useful out of what I'm writing.

So, let's start out with a discussion of young adult novels, shall we?

It could be argued that I'm not all that far away, agewise, from the target audience of these books. So perhaps it bothers me, reading a YA novel in my mid-twenties, when the characters fail utterly to act like teenagers. The author will do anything--anything--to try to portray a young teenage voice--and often it rings false.

Ah, fuck it, let's go for an easy example. At the moment, I'm reading Charles de Lint's YA novel, The Blue Girl and, while the story itself is compelling, the protagonists in no way resemble sixteen-year-old kids I've ever seen. Our main protagonist, Imogene, is supposed to come off as smart but streetwise. She instead comes off like a 50-year-old trying very hard to be hip. In some ways, Imogene is almost a little too childlike, but then, she has the habit of making sweeping social pronouncements and displaying a maturity I'm not buying from someone of her age.

It's something I've seen often in YA novels. The authors simply can't get the voice right, and if they can't manage that, they're not going to have much of a readership.