Friday, June 12, 2009

Is YA the most exciting genre happening right now?

Let me start by saying, it is a travesty that I'm writing a blog on YA. I know little about it and up till maybe a few weeks ago, I had the stupid, and uneducated opinion that YA was about orphaned wizards, or vampires who don't have sex.
But I was lucky enough this week to spend twenty minutes at Maureen's house, and peruse her books, and picked up a couple of YA's both of which went on to blow my little mind.

The first was, The Dust of a Hundred Dogs. It's about a pirate, a teenager, who is cursed at her death, to spend her next hundred lifetimes as a dog, until she is finally reincarnated as a human, who remembers her pirate life.

The second was The Hunger Games, which, and I've only read the first chapter, completely enthralled me. I am seriously salivating to get my hands on this book, based only on the first chapter. It's set in an alternate world, features a seventeen year old girl, who has to compete in a fight to the death with twenty-three other teens.

Both books are really dark, and the premise of both is imaginative and well thought out, and like nothing in the romance genre.
As far as I can tell, the only limiting factor in the YA genre is age, your main character can't be fifty, but otherwise, almost anything goes.
The other common factor of those two books, was the voice of the main character was crisp and clear and leaped off the page. So amazing writing is also part of the package.
So I'm going to hunt down more YA books. Or maybe just scour Maureen's house again, and take all the books she's been telling me to read for the past while.

19 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

It is a really interesting slice of the market right now. I used to think of YA as adult-books-lite, (probably because the first ones I read were by romance and/or chick lit authors branching out to a younger audience). Many of those books, to me, felt like their adult counterparts, but without the bite (or the bit and the sex, as in your vampire reference. LOL) Recently, I'm thinking it's the opposite.

I think part of it is that the YA market it's less segmented by genre. Not that the publishers don't describe books as romances, or mysteries, or dystopian sci-fi in marketing materials... but in the bookstores, most bookstores I know, anyway, they're just shelved as teen fiction... so less stigma and/or restrictions about what goes between the pages.

I'm just starting to catch on to what I think some of my friends have been trying to tell me for 2-3 years...

I've been meaning to read Scott Westerfield for years... (Have UGLIES, sitting on a shelf) Really looking forward to Diana Peterfreund's new book RAMPANT about killer unicorns, too.

Sinead M said...

I think what did it for me was the set up of Hunger Games. Absolute conflict on every page, and the external set up allowed the heroine to be tough, sarcastic, capable and so thoroughly sympathetic at the same time, that she almost broke my heart.

We dream of creating heroines like that in romance..

Maureen McGowan said...

She is an amazing heroine. Cannot wait for the next book in that series.

Was reading on Moonrat's blog how she made her editorial asssistant line up at 7:00 am to snag a copy of the ARC at BEA. So jealous.

Maureen McGowan said...

Okay, it was 8:00 as I read it again. 7:00 is more dramatic. ;-)

JKB said...

Oh oh oh!

You will love Hunger Games! It is so fantastic!

I do think that YA is a very hot genre...it seems like the current hysteria going on (correct me if I'm wrong, I write MG) is that people worry that YA is *too* dark and edgy. But to me all I've read lately is totally honest and spot on.

I remember that age. It's probably why I'm so messed up now. :)

Joanne Levy said...

I think of YA as being defined as "What kids like". The genre (if you can even call it that) is built on where to put books in a bookstore. You can find dark, violent, gritty stories or light, romantic comedies mixed on the same shelf. I think as long as there is some kind of conflict and a good pace along with an approrpiately aged cast of characters, anything goes in YA.

Incidentally, I loved both The Dust of 100 Dogs and The Hunger Games

Lisa McMann said...

Loved both those books! YA is edge-of-your-seat exciting. Lots of great stuff out there. Great post!

Maureen McGowan said...

Yes, Joanne. Pacing does seem to be key.

I noticed Nathan Bransford's post Dude looks like a YA (he cracks me up) mentioned pacing, too, as a major difference between adult and YA fiction...

But maybe he really meant adult literary fiction... b/c I think most adult genre fiction tends to be pretty fast-paced, too. At least the most successful stuff. Okay, the stuff I like...

Maureen McGowan said...

Lisa,

Loved WAKE, too. Awesome. Will also loan that to Sinead.

Joanne just brought me my copy of FADE you kindly signed for me. Looking fwd to moving it to the top of my TBR pile.

Maureen McGowan said...

Lisa. Sorry. Should tell Sinead to BUY a copy of WAKE. :-)

A.S. King said...

Sinead -- So stoked you dug the book! Thanks for the shout out! My first YA read (about 3 years ago) was EXIT HERE by Jason Myers, which was stunning. I read something recently that claimed YA lit is the new rock n' roll. I quite liked that description.

Amy

Karen W. said...

It's always nice to see a new convert to YA books. :)

I love the fantasy/paranormal YA stuff, and I would highly recommend: THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak, ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin, IN THE FOREST OF HANDS & TEETH by Carrie Ryan, GENERATION DEAD by Dan Waters, GHOST GIRL by Tonya Hurley, SKINNED by Robin Wasserman, and I could go on and on... :)

Have fun with exploring all the great YA books out there!

Sinead M said...

Lisa, will absolutely buy a copy of Wake. If Maureen says it's awesome then I am very excited to read it.

A.S. could not have loved your heroine more, her voice was fantastic, and dark and gripping.

Am loving YA right now and so excited to read more.

Mental note: listen to Maureen more and do what she says.

Sinead M said...

Karen, thanks for the great recommendations...
Love, love the dark books, the fantasy ones as well.

Maureen McGowan said...

That's such a coincidence. My new motto is: Listen more to Sinead and do what she says.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I can't wait to get my hands on these books -- they sound great -- I think the subgenre distinction being more about age rather than content is probably why it's more open. I think so many grat books get shot down in editorial meetings because editors can't find the right way to market things -- or why great books fall through the cracks because they don't quite fit.

I had the best drink of my life last night - two of them... one was frozen watermelon blended with cocunt juice and lemon vodka and the other one was something with cantelope, ruby red vodka and preseco. next time we have some DWT - I'm busting those out.

M. said...

If your taste runs to dark YA then this reco is no good,but if it stretches to funny and poignant YA, I highly recommend the 'Alice' trilogy by BC author Susan Juby. It starts with 'Alice, I Think' (there was a short-lived TV series based on this, I believe, but I never watched because I was too afraid of how they might have butchered the fantastic book) and goes on to 'Miss Smithers' - partially about the funniest beauty pageant ever, in a tiny town in the BC interior.

M. said...

Realized I forgot to mention the last book in the series, 'Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last' which has special relevance for writers because Alice decides to become a screenwriter and there are hilarious excerpts from some of her works. The moose one was classic (yes, that's a teaser!)

Diana Peterfreund said...

Well, it's always nice to see a prejudice busted. there's plenty of time to catch up. :-)

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