Buying and reading YA genre novels

Cory Doctorow over on BoingBoing posts an interesting article on the placing of his book in the YA section of book stores which appears to have confused some people and Scott Westerfeld picks this up on his blog asking “There’s an interesting wave of discussions going on right now about YA sections of bookstores. Do adults read YA? Should they feel dorky for doing so? When shopping for YA, should they bring a teenager along to make them less conspicuous?”

I’ve noticed, browsing in the YA section looking for my fix of whatever I’m missing, that I tend to be the only adult (apart from the staff) in the section. Frankly some of the genre writing for those readers is finer and pushes more imaginative boundaries than adult genre – I hold up Steve Augarde’s trilogy, Garry Kilworth’s Attica and Hundred Towered City and Steve Cockayne’s the Good People as a tip of the tip of the iceberg exemplars. Neil Gaiman’s children’s writing is great fun and I rate Coraline as one of the best books that he’s ever written.

John Scalzi makes a similar point in a post on his blog where he comments:

“In a sane world, [Scott] Westerfeld would be a hero to adult science fiction readers, because he’s pretty much single-handedly flown the flag for science fiction to teenagers, thus saving the genre’s bacon for another 20 years. But: He’s YA. So he doesn’t count” and that he ought to get a Hugo.  Scott is a great writer and I’m really looking forward to the next book, Leviathan, and he makes the hours of reading fun and leaves me wanting to know more.

Potentially this says something really quite deep about genre. Either it genuinely doesn’t know what’s happening in the cool world of YA or it doesn’t care. I sort of pray its the former. My answer to Scott is yes, I do read YA and don’t feel in the slightest dorky or uncomfortable. I buy it because I like and blog about it for the same reason and I’m certainly not bringing any teenagers with me to buy it.

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