YA definitions

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Thu Mar 27 17:10:07 EST 2003

> 1. Singularity of plot line
> 2. Age of protagonist
> 3. Well-defined themes
> 4. Importance of character development, particularly growing up or
> 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
> 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 sounds like the beginning of a good thread to me, and probably a new
technical challenge for the manufacturers of multi-dimensional fantasy
orreries. If I were listing these in order of importance (rather than just
frequency in existing YA titles), I think 2 would probably be at the top,
followed perhaps by 4 - though DWJ in her latest bulletin seems a little
impatient with interviewers assuming that her books are all about Growing
Up, I notice. 1, 3 and 5 all seem to be sops to YA literary
unsophistication, and hence make me suspicious. 6 seems to come awfully
close to saying that the appropriate thing for teenagers to read about is
other teenagers, which kind of repeats 2, but presumably hints in a shadowy
way at the existence of INappropriate things as well. 6 probably needs
further refinement.

I too am sure other things matter, but I'm too tired to remember what they


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