I have a confession to make. Actually, perhaps I ought to switch to Catholicism as it seems from all these blog entries that I have a lot of confessions piling up. Unfortunately I don’t think any of my unburdenings are the types to be bothering priests with and there really is no penance for them.
Today’s confession is that I have become exceedingly tired of Young Adult fiction.
As with all genres I firmly believe there is a place for it, and like most other genres I’ve unashamedly read my fill of YA from the time I was 9 until today. Sarah Dessen is one of a few authors whose new releases I’ll buy sight unseen, reviews unheeded. There is a refreshing simplicity to the language and plotting of novels in this genre that makes them perfect for hammocks, beaches, lunch breaks; perfect for all those times you want to immerse yourself in the world of the novel without being over your head in pages and adverbs.
Some of my best friends are Young Adult novels.
So what is this impasse we’ve come to, and why is it an impasse at all? Thanks to the overwhelming success of Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games series we are at a place in the book business where the big sellers are uniformly coming from the YA genre. Not because these books are better, mind you. But they are better for the marketing departments of the big publishers. For a business that is struggling to stay afloat in a changing marketplace, these books are a godsend. The page counts are shorter, the buying market encompasses a wide swath of ages and as most of these books are part of a series they are a perpetual marketing machine. If I were in the marketing department I would beg for as many good YA titles on the frontlist as I could get.
I’m not in the marketing department. I’m in the buying department. As much fun as a YA book can be, I do read at times other than lunch and places other than hammocks and beaches. If Young Adult books are hearty appetizers, I’m at the place where I’d also really like to have something for the main course.
As a writer I’ve been making the acquaintance of more working writers as a way to find kindred spirits, and those working writers are opening my eyes to The Rules. You may have gathered as much, seeing as how I have been complaining about those rules of late. And it occurred to me the other day as I read through one of the random lists of rules that people are extrapolating rules for YA fiction to apply to all genres. That bothers me. We already live in a world where YA is the current King Baby. And now all books are to be remade to look more like a YA title:
1. Go light on the Adjectives and Adverbs
2. Avoid shifting points of view
3. Show, don’t tell
All of these rules make sense in the YA category where there is an economy of language, a moral message and easily relatable characters. But should they be hard and fast for books from which we expect a wider cast of relatable characters, a greater depth of language and a message that is more obscured by story?
Even more horrifying is the thought that readers who are on a steady diet of YA may lose their interest in adult fiction styles altogether. I’m really starting to worry as I watch The Hunger Games and Daughter of Smoke and Bone camp out at the top of the bestseller lists. I’m afraid that the world of adult fiction is receding from view.