31 March 2009

What is "Young Adult" Fiction?

I recently read the first half of popular Young Adult fantasy released last year. I was surprised to discover that the first several chapters contained sex, incest, infanticide, and gang rape. It was hard for me to take, even as a not-so-young-adult. I don't want to sound like a prude, but should a book like that really be marketed as YA? I realize that young people have to learn about the harsh realities of the world, but do those realities have to be dumped on them with such harshness and insensitivity? 


lesleylsmith said...

What you describe seems hard to fathom as YA. :( I wonder what the official definition of YA is? I guess for one thing, YA stories have an adolescent protagonist. Often YA novels are coming of age novels, or focus on the challenges of being an adolescent. I would really hope those challenges don't include incest, rape, etc. :(
I'm guessing you didn't finish the book?

Todd Bradley said...

That does sound pretty bizarre. Would you care to share the name of this popular book? I'm curious to read the Amazon.com reviews of it.

ssas said...

Yup, you got to tell us the book now. It sounds like one I would like!


Really, though, when that agent wanted to market my novel as YA I was doubtful but she said it fit fine. Okaaaay, killings abound, but whatever.

David E. Hughes said...

The book is Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. Lesley is correct that I did not finish it. The book is on a number of Locus' "Best of 2008" recommended reading lists. Apparently, is was originally released as an adult book in Australia and then released as a YA book in the US.

I had some other problems with the book in addition to the subject matters (e.g. little setting or character details, slow-moving plot, etc).

p.s. an awesome YA book from 2008 is Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. He addresses serious issues as well. I reviewed that book in a previous post.

lesleylsmith said...

Clarkesworld, in Oct 2008, did an interesting interview with Lanagan about this book: