Hooray for campus interview days at work! Since I’m low enough on the totem pole to not actually do the interviews (I “greet” for an interviewer, which means I'm a glorified receptionist for the day), I have time between escorting hopeful candidates to… get more work done, of course! And post on this blog.
So those of you who have perused my reviews thus far have probably noticed that I have a hankering for the teens and tweens section of the bookstore. I promise that I will review works from the normal sci-fi/fantasy section in the near future! I actually used to read almost exclusively from that sub-genre a few years ago (much love to David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, and Robert Jordan).
Currently, however, I have been drawn to YA fantasy novels. And not because of phenomena like Harry Potter. (I have yet to read any of Rowling’s mega-hits as of this posting. Don't worry, Sis! It's on my to-do list.) I think I can distill my reasons down to one word:
In setting, in theme, in language. I love that YA authors tend to keep things simple. For me, one of the challenges of adult fantasy is the complexity and detail overload that bombards the reader. Factions and organizations are interconnected by tentative alliances or centuries of bad blood. Witch-kings and warrior-queens and lord regents and high inquisitors and what-have-you all seek to help or hurt the cast of 50-something main characters, each of whom have suffered the loss of a parent, made love in secret with the enemy, and/or must gather the 198 sacred stones to prevent armageddon. It’s a lot to take in!
Sure, being able to describe the story elements with such attention-to-detail enriches the book’s background and speaks to the genius and creativity of the author. But at the same time, it can bog down the reader who, after a 9- or 10-hour work day, does not have the mental fortitude to make a relief map of the faerie realm or sort out the intrigues within intrigues. (I’m talking about me, obviously.) I’m sad to admit I have yet to finish any of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels; that boy had a LOT to say about Middle-earth!
Keep in mind that simple is not mutually exclusive with profound, captivating, or compelling. In many ways, I feel like the spare-yet-elegant nature of YA fantasy fiction enhances the reader's experience, and the author's judicious choice of detail serves to direct, rather than distract, our focus.
Like I said, I will cross back over into “grown up” fantasy for the occasional book or series, but the “page turner” allure of the young adult realm has my heart for the foreseeable future. Haters may call me shallow, immature, simple-minded. I like to think I’m… efficient. :)
Plus, I’m working on a YA novel right now. I need to see what I’m up against!
What is it about the young adult shelf that draws your eye? (Please don't say it's the sexy covers.)