YA Fantasy-Not just for Kids

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Rob B, Apr 28, 2003.

  1. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    There have been topics about many of these authors but no real dedicated topic to what can be considered Young Adult Fantasy.

    I'm talking about Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass[US]/Northern Lights/[UK], The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass); Neil Gaiman's wonderful Coraline, Michael Chabon's fun and fantastic Summerland, the Lemony Snicket Books (though more dark in tone than actual fantasy, but it feels right lumping them here), the Narnia books, Garth Nix's work (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen) to name a few.

    I've found myself being drawn to these books lately and I am really enjoying these books and admiring the skill the authors have to utilize in getting their voice in the right frame for the intended teen-ish audience. What is great about the books I've metioned above (Aside from Garth Nix, who I haven't read yet though the SFBC ominbus of the three books is on the way, thanks to my friend for joining the club so I could get some free books! ), is how well they work for adults. Again, for the books I mentioned above, should not be pooh-poohed simply because they are marketed as YA books.

    Of course there are the Potter books as well. And please don't tell me about Shannara and WOT. Yes teens read them, but they are only now being re-marketed for the Young Adult market.

    Anyway, I really would like to get people's thoughts on this growing part of the genre as well as thoughts on either the authors above or those I haven't mentioned.

    Here are some of the topics I found for the specific authors/books:
    Garth Nix
    Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
    Tamora Pierce
    Harry Potter
    The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
     
  2. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    A big me too

    Is it a second childhood thing? Or just a craving for "story"?

    I'm about halfway through Summerland. I've read and enjoyed the Pullman books, and the Snickets, the Potters and Coraline.

    Didn't care much for the first book in Cooper's series so shelved that one. Nix is in the TBR. Recently re-read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and have bought a nice new edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord is on the nightstand, and I'm thinking about continuing the Artemis Fowl series but haven't decided yet.

    I think for me it's wanting to get more story. Seems like other stuff I've read lately has been mostly character interaction but not much happens. Lots of epiphanies but not much buildup.

    When someone asks me what one of these books is about, I can tell them. It's not so easy to do that with the more literary stuff. "It's about a father's estrangement from his family" or "it's about a woman searching for herself" or "it's about a dysfunctional family." Gets old.

    Summerland is about baseball and about saving the world. How cool is that?
     
  3. JohnH

    JohnH Abstainer from Foolosophy

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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2004
  4. DrBloodmoney1

    DrBloodmoney1 Reed-Sternberg Cell

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    I agree. I recently finished Sabriel and I thought it was great. I have Summerland on the TBR pile and Coraline as well.

    I can really identify with these books, especially the newer ones. I think that it relates to how I was introduced to the genre. Narnia, L'Engle, The Wind in the Willows- those are all of my favorites from growing up.

    I was wondering what everybody thought about Abarat by Clive Barker. I recently picked it up because of the artwork. It really caught my eye. I think that he has another 3 books in the series.

    DrB
     
  5. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    I haven't read Abarat and haven't heard anything about it, except that it's selling well.

    What's it about?
     
  6. Bear

    Bear I eat fish.

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    I'm a big fan of young adult books. In fact, most of my favorite fantasy authors are either lumped in this category or in the urban fantasy genre. A lot of high fantasy, unless it's really exceptional or original, feels pretty stale to me. And IMO, YA fiction is where the creativity is. The plots are (usually) very original, and as Auntie Pam stated, there's a lot more movement. Instead of page after page of introspection and interaction, we see things happen. It really keeps things fresh. And sure, I'm a bit older than the target audience, but who cares? A good story is a good story. If done right, a book can easily transcend age, as JohnH was saying.

    And FF, I really watch the YA genre too. The skill and creativity some these YA author's possess is astounding. And isn't a little sad that a lot of the YA books are better written and more thought-provoking than the so called "adult books?"

    That being said...

    Glad to see some others enjoyed Coraline. I thought the book was great, and to top it off, Dave Mckean, one of my favorite artists, did the illustrations. Excellent stuff.

    Pullman and Rowling are wonderful authors. Once I crack open any of their novels, the book will be done with by the next day, without fail. Both of them write total page-turners (Order of the pheonix is at the very top of my "can't wait to read" list).

    The books I've read from Nix I enjoyed, especially Shade's children. It was a grim story, but quite good. Recommended. Sabriel's another one to pick up.

    The Theif Lord was decent, but not a favorite. It was well-written but not as likable as some of the authors mentioned above.

    Colfer's Artemis Fowl books are enjoyable. I didn't exactly love them, but they were interesting, if a little too "techy" at times. But the twisting of familiar legend, as in "LEPrecon," was great.

    The Snicket books sure don't last long, and some of the installments are pretty weak, but I consider myself a fan. And I love the artwork.
     
  7. DrBloodmoney1

    DrBloodmoney1 Reed-Sternberg Cell

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    I am a big Charles de Lint fan. He recently put out a book of short stories that were marketed for a YA crowd called Waifs and Strays. I was very impressed as always with his top-notch storytelling.

    DrB
     
  8. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    I was just going through some old posts of mine. I was pretty amazed to see how my tastes and attitudes have changed over the past 3 years.
    Anyway, one of these posts reminded me of an author I read quite a lot of when I was younger - Victor Kelleher.
    He's an Australian based author who mostly writes (or used to write at least) young adult novels, many of which are fantasy.
    I fondly remember reading some of his fantasy such as The Forbidden Paths of Thual, The Hunting of Shadroth, Master of the Grove, The Red King, The Makers, etc. I have quite a large collection of his books hanging around somewhere...

    Has anyone else read them? I suggest them as worth a look if you're interested in reading some YA fiction. They're not quite at the level of Nix or Pullman, but they're still a good read.
     
  9. allanon

    allanon The Druid

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    I like YA fantasy vety much; for me "Harry Potter" is as enjoyable as my favourite Epic Fantasy authors, if not more, and I also like "Artemis Fowl" very much.
     
  10. rune

    rune Registered User

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    I've read all the books in the Harry Potter series and thoroughly enjoyed them. However, when I tried His Dark Material by Pullman and Coraline, I was a little disappointed as their style wasn't quite as mature for me as Rowlings was and this can spoil a story for me a little.

    Still that's just my thoughts, and I am sure a lot of adults would enjoy reading these other YA authors as there is plenty going on in the books and they dont tend to be overloaded on detail:)

    rune
     
  11. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    Re: Re: YA Fantasy-Not just for Kids

    No kidding? Wow. I'm just the opposite, Pullman's style seems more mature to me than Rowling's. I don't get much from Rowling's books, although I enjoy reading about her various creations and I usually get a chuckle from the wordplay.

    I haven't finished Phoenix. Nothing annoys me more than overuse of adverbs in describing speech, and Rowling tosses them around like bird seed at a wedding.

    It's always interesting to see how books affect people so differently. :)
     
  12. JohnH

    JohnH Abstainer from Foolosophy

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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2004
  13. rune

    rune Registered User

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    Just goes to show how individual we all are :)

    I often seem to like books that other readers aren't so keen on and dislike books that other readers rave about. Perhaps I'm just a bit odd :)

    rune
     
  14. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    No, rune, not odd. Like you said, individual.

    Not that there's anything wrong with being odd . . . :)
     
  15. Bond

    Bond Registered User

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    One of the things I enjoy in most YA oriented material is that they generally don't have as much of the pretense of books geared towards adults. Authors are also constrained to use simple but effective language because of the target audience, so over elaborate floweriness and unnecessary sophistication is stripped away leaving the essential. That may be why many YA stories seem to move much more briskly.

    On the point of the relative maturity between Pullman's and Rowling's writing, I tend to agree with Rune although I'm not sure if it for the exact same reasons. As I've argued before Pullman's subject matter and tone seem to give it more gravitas but if one is talking about psychological development and complexity of characters and interactions between them I'd contend Rowling's are far more interesting.
     
  16. Bear

    Bear I eat fish.

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    Well-stated, Bond. This is an argument I've been making for years now.
     
  17. Khallandra

    Khallandra Autobot

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    I've read all of the Harry Potter books (own them too :p) and loved them
    I have even read the entire Jedi Academy Series too

    But what is the best series that I have read out of "YA" books is Garth Nix's Sabriel series - it is brilliant - I even passed them on to my mother who loved them too and his new series "Keys to the Kingdom" starting with Mister Monday is equally as good - so when ever you get the chance give them a try - you might be surprised and like them :)
     
  18. alison

    alison Books of Pellinor

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    I don't differentiate between YA fantasy and fantasy. Like someone said earlier, a good book is a good book. (And yes, I do remember Victor Kelleher...) I read a lot of children's fiction, some of it is more sophisticated than what's called adult fiction. A current favourite is David Almond, who reminds me of Alan Garner - and Garner's books - fantasy? I always thought so - count as some of the more impressive novels about. I think too that books written for a YA audience have to readable, and maybe are less prone to hype. HP being the obvious exception - but even there, there would be no hype if children weren't riveted to the books in the first place, and that's something that can't be faked.

    I kind of agree with the reservations about His Dark Materials, though I think Northern Lights is very good; the second two disappointed me, in retrospect, although I enjoyed them while reading them. And Artemis Fowl is a complete hoot. Another classy book I think is Across the Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearne, which is marketed as YA, although all sorts of people seem to read these things.
     
  19. ChrisW

    ChrisW Banned

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    Have you noticed how they are giving "Across the Nightingale Floor" away for free now when you buy the second one. Looks like they printed way to many. That and it wasn't very good.
     
  20. alison

    alison Books of Pellinor

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    I thought Across the Nightingale Floor was a very decent book, and well written, which is hard to find sometimes in fantasy books. My son, who's a 15 year old Japanophile (he's in Japan at the moment) totally loved it. Haven't read The Grass on Her Pillow because he took it with him. The hype is something else: they printed so many. I remember seeing piles of 30 in the shops. But that's about the publisher, not the book.