Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reading: Young Adult Fiction

Last week's New York Times Book Section had an essay about a high powered New York book club in the publishing world which reads exclusively young adult fiction. The essay talked about how young adult fiction was increasingly sophisticated and typically free of the various post-modern conceits of adult literary fiction. While I have nothing against adult literary fiction (post-modern or otherwise), my own reading list has increasingly included a heavy dose of young adult fiction that I have shared with my fourteen year old daughter who is a voracious reader just entering high school. On either side of reading Ron Chernow's Titan, his wonderful biography of John D. Rockefeller Senior, I have been devouring Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Orson Scott Card's Ender in Exile, and Simon Rich's Elliot Allagash.

I have enjoyed them all but am particularly taken with Neil Gaiman as an author of both young adult and more adult fiction. Gaiman is a the author of Coraline and Stardust on the young adult side, Neverwhere somewhere in the middle, and American Gods (among others) for a more adult audience. They are all inventive, well-written, and frequently a but disturbing given his ability to twist every day life in a dark variant of what most would consider normal. He is the equal in every way of Philip Pullman whose Dark Materials trilogy are among my all-time favorites and the perfect example of why the only categories that matter are good fiction and bad fiction.

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