Friday, May 29, 2015

YA books

I was reading an issue of  Locus Magazine recently and noticed how many new book contracts there were for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy there were.  Sorry for the not great pic.  But of all the listings a LARGE percentage of them were YA books.

I remember when I was reading YA books, there were really not a lot of genre books to choose from.  We really can thank the Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games and others for the explosion of interest over the last decade or so.  Love 'em or hate 'em they really are making kids read more.  It's exciting - and yes, there is a lot of so-so books out there, but there is also a lot of real quality out there as well.  I think the most important takeaway is OPTIONS.  Adults often read them too, and if that gets someone with a busy life to stop and take the time to relax and read, then I am all for it.  The age range (debatable) of Young Adult books is often when we really get into a joy of reading that we take with us the rest of our lives.  It is encouraging - and can expand our minds and imaginations.

That said, I do not see the same expansion level in mysteries.  One could argue that cozies are great for YA because of their nature.  Often though, the YA reader wants a protagonist that is also a YA to relate to.  

I grew up with Nancy Drew like so many others.  Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon etc...  They were wonderful but reading them now, they are really outdated.  Let's face it - society has changed and our protags need to change to.

Now, that isn't to say there aren't any great mysteries being written for  younger readers - there are.  It just doesn't seem that publishers are willing to produce as many as Fantasy, afraid they won't get the same sales numbers (and movie rights if I am being cynical).  Maybe that is true - but how will we know if the readers don't have the options?  I tend to believe from the number of ADULT mystery readers, that the market is there.

But I thought I would post the Agatha Awards in the category for the last several years (Winners notated with *:

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlen Coben (Putnam Juvenile)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery by Kathleen Ernst (American Girl Mysteries)
Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower (Zonderkidz)
* Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books)
Code Busters Club: Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben 
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George 
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead 
* The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

So - let's hope things change going forward, and that we encourage writers to write for younger readers and publishers to publish for them.  Everyone wins!


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