Ender's Game

hallieod at indigo.ie hallieod at indigo.ie
Thu Mar 27 14:06:38 EST 2003


>Young adult fiction differs from adult fiction for several reasons, only one
>of which is content (and in my opinion that's pretty far down the list).
>More importantly, there's a difference between books one can read based on
>one's ability level and books that are specifically written as young adult
>titles.  In other words, the term "young adult fiction" should be viewed in
>the same way we see "romance" or "science fiction" books--a category that
>defines a kind of literature, and not a guideline to reading age.
>When I say that _Ender's Game_ is not a young adult title, it's not because
>I think kids shouldn't be reading it.  It's because the way it's written,
>the way the story is told, the characterizations and the timelines exclude
>it from the category of young adult fiction.  The one thing that does NOT
>define young adult fiction, quixotically, is the age of the reader.  A young
>adult reading and enjoying _Watership Down_ does not make that book a YA
>title.  The members of this list reading DWJ do not make her books adult
>fiction (as I know our average age is definitely not in the teens).
>The definition of YA fiction is slippery, and you'll be hard pressed to find
>two experts who exactly agree with one another, but there are a few
>generally-agreed-upon characteristics.  I culled these from my YA lit class
>and from discussions with lit professors at the local universities, and
>they're not in any particular order of importance:
>1. Singularity of plot line
>2. Age of protagonist
>3. Well-defined themes
>4. Importance of character development, particularly growing up or learning
>to change
>5. Relative simplicity of prose style--NOT overly simplistic
>6. Age-appropriate content (not really very important, given that nobody
>agrees on what "appropriate" for an age means; but many mainstream YA books
>feature teenagers in typical (or atypical) home and school situations)
>I can't remember any others, and not every YA book has all these elements.
>I'm sure there are other things that matter....
>This is a kind of fiction that is peculiarly slanted toward change and
>personal development.  In the worst examples it is didactic, a how-to manual
>for growing up.  In the best examples it is far more subtle, encouraging
>broadness of thinking and exploring a wide range of possibilities.  You
>probably have heard that the best YA fiction is that which can be read by
>adults as well as teens; that's because there are some things we never stop
>needing to learn, no matter how old we become, and when adult fiction
>presupposes that the reader has already learned them, there's something else
>to fall back on.
>Anyway, that's what I was talking about.

That was interesting, and I was very glad to see the list of 
characteristics written out (with due respect to the slipperiness of 
definitions like this), but I don't really feel it answered my 
question.  (English is so unsatisfactory sometimes - that sounds as 
if I'm saying *you* didn't answer my question, which I'm not.)  Just 
that I look at the list and still wonder why you consider this 
particular book not to be a YA book.  I guess it must have been 
Dorian who said that Card thought it wasn't, which is another 
question again.


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