Thursday, 28 January 2016

Why your next read should be a Young Adult fiction read


So Frances Hardinge's "The Lie Tree" has been awarded the Costa Book Award. It's only the second time a teen novel has won the prize since Pullman's "The Amber Spyglass" in 2001 giving us all a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the often overlooked work of some of the most innovative writers around today.

You've heard of YA Fiction? You've read "Harry Potter"? You've seen "Twilight" - although don't rush to judge, it kept me up until one o'clock in the morning on several occasions and despite some cringing prose, you can't deny it was a fresh reinvention of a traditional genre and captivated millions of imaginations and hearts! But beware- Teen Fiction isn't just about high school, love triangles and supernatural monsters.

If you don't read YA fiction you are missing out on an incredible wealth of outstanding novels. Shops often only stock the most popular titles which misrepresents the breadth of this market. If you can search fuller shelves then you will see that YA writing is diverse, complex, sophisticated and powerful. It has as many genres and sub-genres as adult fiction and includes some of the most talented authors writing today.

Teen Fiction isn't there to encourage reluctant readers, inform, moralise or educate. Teenagers hate being patronised as much as adults do. They want a story. They won't persist with anything that doesn't engage, inspire, move or excite them -making them a much more challenging audience to please! YA Fiction isn't frightened of breaking taboos or creating new genres or giving the reader the chance to explore something difficult or new through the safety and neutrality of a book. And for any concerned parents, Gayle Foreman said in a recent You Tube video not to be scared of the darkness that is written about but to embrace it. "Use it to start a conversation. It can be a tool to start a whole number of conversations." Don't for one moment think that YA books are merely fluffy fairy tales and happy endings! They can be as chilling and haunting as some of the psychological thrillers hitting the adult book stands.

The YA market has got to be at its most exciting point. There is such a huge wealth of titles to chose from these days with some of the most gifted authors dedicating themselves to writing for them. The rise of MA's and University Courses on Children's Literature, such as the one running at Goldsmith's led by the fascinating Michael Rosen, show just how seriously this area is being taken and how it should never be underestimated, undervalued or over looked as simple and less worthy.

We all know that novels can be a source of information, a great support and a fantastic friend but ultimately YA Fiction is to be enjoyed. By all of us. As C S Lewis said, "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."

Look out for my top recommendations in my next post!

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