Monday, October 21, 2013

YA Fiction Doing Just Fine


I'm sick of hearing about how YA fiction is getting too formulaic. There are too many vampires and there is too much paranormal romance. Let's have some serious diversity in fiction. Come on YA.

To this I say bullsh**. Apologies for the ** or maybe the bullsh part. Hmm... not sure.

Just to be clear--any genre may have vivid and unique fiction. It's in the telling--the language and the ideas and the imaginative situations and tone and characterization and story.YA fiction has more than its share of vivid and unique fiction.

Is there formula fiction in YA? Of course.

But without thinking very hard many writers' names pop into my head that aren't writing anything like formula fiction, that are writing great and interesting fiction: Pete Hautman, Laurie Anderson John Green, Kelly Link, Francisco X. Stork,  Neil Gaiman,  Lois Lowry, Markus Zusak to name just a few. These writers, and many many more, make the charge that YA is stale and formulaic simply untrue.

But I've said there is formula fiction in YA, right? Sure. So...Teens like it right? They do but not as much as adults, apparently. Look at adult fiction. What sells the most in adult fiction? Look at the lists.   Formula fiction.  Fifty Shades of Whatever. Thank the Fiction Gods that's not all that sells (many great and diverse writers here, too) but my point is that if you look at mainstream adult fiction, you will find that adults buy large quantities of formula type fiction. If you don't look closely, if you just glance,  you might say that adult fiction is nothing but formula. But that would be as untrue as the charge that YA fiction is.

Many readers are always going to be attracted to and satisfied by formula fiction. To me it's uninteresting but it has its place. It has its place in adult fiction (I would argue a larger place in adult fiction than YA fiction) and in YA fiction. But for those interested in going beyond the formula there are plenty of works of  fiction in both YA and adult for them. The YA commentators who make wide generalizations about the state of YA fiction need to take a breath. It's doing just fine.

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