I read a lot of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. The official reason is because I write Young Adult/Middle Grade fiction, and it’s vital to read in the field you want to publish in. The unofficial reason is because there’s some darn good storytelling in those books. I feel like younger readers are less jaded, less burdened with silly rules (I’m looking at you, mundane sci-fi fans), less impressed with literary showoffery, and more focused on simply having a good story told well. (On a tangential note, I feel similarly about minority literature and literature from groups that feel disenfranchised from mainstream literary culture–they haven’t abandoned narrative. This very nearly was the topic of my master’s thesis.)
You can see the book I’m currently reading in the widget on the right. It was suggested to me as a possible comp title for my novel Vanishing Act, and I wanted to see just how comparable it was. The image is kind of small, but you can clearly see a silvery-gray circle in the lower left part of the title, which leads me to a prediction. I am almost precisely halfway through the book, and I’m all but certain that somebody’s got to die. All I’m trying to figure out is whether it will be the baby sister, the title character, or the girl next door. Because killing somebody and breaking the protagonist’s heart is the KidLit equivalent of being literary, and an award on the cover of a book is the sign that a Kidlit book is literary.
Don’t believe me?
Do you have examples that I missed?
TVTropes even has a name for this phenomenon: Death by Newbery
So why do authors of literary fiction for young readers hate kids, anyway?
P.S. Don’t go spoiling Skellig for me; I’ll be done with it in a day or so anyway. (I’ll go ahead and spoil Vanishing Act for you: nobody dies, so there will be no medals on the cover of this book. 😉 )