[DWJ] hexwood, archer's goon, and age

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Mon Jun 23 21:39:36 EDT 2008

I have a bunch of questions I'd like to run by the list, and
they'll be wicked spoilery for Hexwood and Archer's Goon, so if
you haven't read those, go away and have a cookie.



My questions are about protagonist age and expectation.

For fifty years, there's been a general assumption in
(non-picturebook) English-language literature published for
children and young adults that the protaganists are about 1-3
years older than the text's implied reader.  Obviously there are
exceptions, and obviously there's a difference between texts
marketed to children and YAs and those *read* by the same, but
still, it's a nice genral guideline.

In recent years, I'm starting to see more sf&f books marketed to
YAs in that subset of younger adult (as opposed to young adult ==
adolescent) protaganist which teens always *read* but from the
adult section: Deep Secret had crossover marketing, and Kristen
Cashore's forthcoming Graceling, and Simon Morden's forthcoming
The Lost Art.

But Hexwood and Archer's Goon both exhibit a trait which feels
unique to me: a text which, along with the protaganist, spends
most of the book ignorant about the protaganist's true adult
status.  In AG, this is less startling, because the siblings are
pretty childish even for Titans, so Howard's true age is less

But I find the age discrepancy in Hexwood to be really odd.
There's a *huge* difference between Ann's, what is it, twelve?
and Vierran's youthful adulthood.  *Especially* since there's a
romance, but not entirely.

How did other people react to the age fakeout?  If you read all
of Hexwood exactly as it was, but the character of Ann Stavely
was older -- say 19 -- would it be the same book?  Is the text's
implied reader Ann's age?  Vierran's?  Either? Both?

I don't suppose that I have ever been so happy. No; was it happiness?
Something wider and darker, more like knowledge, more like the night: joy.
 				- Ursula Le Guin, "The New Atlantis"

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