Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I need a grown-up edition of YA books!

I mentioned last post that I'm busy working my way through a huge pile of Young Adult books. Hey, what can I say? I guess I never grew up.

Seriously, though, I don't know why people discount YA fiction. A lot of it is really inventive and well done. Some, of course, is shlocky and worthless, but since most YA fiction tends to be short, at least you haven't invested too much time in a loser. YA fiction isn't "dumbed down" at all, at least not when it's well done. It deals with all the same themes and topics as you'll find in regular adult literature. Mostly all it's missing is gratuitous sex. Oh, there's still sex in some YA books, it just tends to be less gratuitous than in some novels aimed at adults. But don't worry, all's not lost: there still tends to be plenty of gratuitous violence in YA fiction!

But here's my problem. I'm a quick reader. I'm not saying that to "brag"...ooo, I know you're all super impressed with my speed reading superpower, I say sarcastically. It's just a fact. But with a YA book, with their huge typeface and gigantic margins, it gets a bit ridiculous. I have to turn the page like every 30 seconds it feels like. It's distracting.

So here's my suggestion: you know how some books that were originally written for an adult audience are re-released as a YA book? Generally the only changes are cosmetic: a new cover, a larger type size, and big margins. Well, I wish they'd do the same thing in reverse. Take a book originally released as YA and repackage it for adults: Get some less embarrassing cover art, and shrink those margins and type. Oh, and if they feel like it, maybe they could add some gratuitous sex. Because I just read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and you know what, a little sex would have perked that book up during the kind of slow middle of the book.

Random related thought: I just listened to Eragon by Christopher Paolini on CD. I'm really excited the third book in The Inheritance series is coming out soon...this is a fun series. However, it was a bit rough to listen to on CD. First, the reader was okay, but lets face it, he was no Jim Dale (the awesome reader of the Harry Potter series). Most distrubing however, was that hearing it aloud kind of brought some of the weaknesses of the prose to the forefront. As I said earlier, I'm a fast reader and as a result, I can easily overlook weak phrasing while I'm reading, as long as it isn't glaring. I'm moved by STORY, not WORDS in general. I appreciate brilliant writing, but it's not a necessity for me to enjoy a book. But when you listen to a book, it's just far too obvious. And it was distracting when listening to Eragon. But I loved the story. I mean, it's highly derivative of the whole high fantasy genre, but who cares? It's still a great story, and if you haven't read a lot of high fantasy, you won't even notice.

While it's been annoying to wait so long between books in this series, I'm glad the author has given himself time to write. And I'm not particularly one to blame the weaknesses on his youth (good golly, he was only 15 when he wrote Eragon), but I hope that at the ripe old age of, oh, 25 or so, he's gained a maturity that will improve his writing. We'll see on September 20!

And while you're waiting, go pick up Eragon. The print version. Not the audio. Then come back and tell me what you thought. And if you've already read it, please do tell me your opinion. Anyone else anxiously awaiting Brisingr?

While you're busy commenting, what are your favorite YA books? Let me know!


Rhonda said...

Before having the girls and staying home with them, I was a YA librarian and I must say I love YA books. I think being a quick read is a huge asset now that I'm home with the girls.

I loved Twilight and the next two books in that series. I'm number 200 somthing on the waiting list for it at the library.

Eragon...not one of my favorites. Paolini's writing is very immature. Probably a result of being only 15 when he had it published. I always felt like it had a lot of potential, a good story line, but the rough prose made it hard for me to read.

Give Tamora Pierce a try and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

Giovanna said...

Ummm, I'm reading a YA book now! Duh! I'm enjoying the Adoration of Jenna Fox, is that what it's called?
And by the way - I'm super impressed with your speed reading! And jealous too!

What A Card said...

Rhonda-I think YA librarian would be my dream job. Re: Eragon, high fantasy is one of my favorite genres, so I may be overly forgiving of the weaknesses of Eragon. It's just such an interesting world he created. I'll look for some books by the authors you recommended!

Gio-I'm still on the waiting list for our book group book. I talked to the YA librarian again, and she was so excited we'd picked Jenna Fox. And the speed reading: sometimes I wish I could slow down, you know, enjoy the books a little. And maybe retain things beyond five or six days. But I get so wrapped up in stories, I just rip right through them. Ah well!

Nancy said...

LOL! It took me until this post to figure out what "YA books" are...I'm a little slow *blush*

My two favorite YA authors are Christopher Pike (not the goosebumps series though) and William Sleator. Christopher Pike actually wrote an "adult" novel called Sati...which was totally a YA book, just longer. :)

And I totally hear you about the fast reads...some of these used to take me a day or so. That was before kids though...and it was an ENTIRE day of neglecting everything else. LOL

I've heard SO MUCH about Twilight (damn facebook) that I'm hesitant to read it....

Threeundertwo said...

i agree with the fast reads. I wish "Bridge to Terebithia" had been more substantial.

If you want a great YA read and a great Jim Dale audiobook, check out "Peter and the Starcatchers." First in a series.