Ender's Game

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Mar 27 18:21:52 EST 2003

On Thu, 27 Mar 2003 19:06:38 +0000, hallieod at indigo.ie wrote:

>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 I thought I was clearer on that.  Actually I didn't address _Ender's
Game_ directly, just the difference between classification and reading age
in general, so I suppose not.

The last time I discussed this (elsewhere), the protagonist's age came up as
the reason it should be YA.  It's true that most YA fiction has young
protagonists, but not every book with a young protagonist is YA.  _To Kill a
Mockingbird_ is not YA even though it has a young heroine.  Ender may be a
child, but the way he faces his problems is decidedly non-childlike.  (I
almost thought _Summerland_ should have been marketed as an adult novel, for
some of the same reasons--and because of the symbol-rich text and high
expectations of the reader.)

I also think that _Ender's Game_ takes on some very complex adult issues:
personal responsibility (that one comes up all over the place); uses of
violence; scapegoating; emotional and physical abuse.  And it's not just
that these are adult issues--sadly, too many kids have to deal with these
things--but that they are approached the way an adult would handle them.
The book seems to be written with an adult audience in mind.  The fact that
it also has exciting combats and the whole boarding school thing makes it
appealing to younger readers, but still doesn't change the intended

And this is what I keep coming back to...probably not the answer you were
looking for, because ultimately I'm defining what _Ender's Game_ *isn't* (a
YA novel) rather than what it *is* (an adult novel).  A negative definition
depends on disproving facts, and if your definition of what makes a YA novel
isn't what I'm contradicting, then my answers won't really be satisfactory.

And the thing is that it really doesn't matter, because people should read
books geared toward their own reading level regardless of how they're
marketed.  It's this whole Young Adult label that has grownups turning up
their noses at really good fiction, just because they think it's for kids.
Teens shouldn't be restricted to YA fiction just because it's "for their age
group."  If it matters to me at all, it's because I see some value in
comparing apples to apples, and YA fiction has specific characteristics that
distinguish it from other fiction.

Melissa Proffitt

If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

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