Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Word about "young adult" novels

Maxine recently added a comment to my post about Denise Mina, saying that she'd heard that Mina's new series about Paddy Meehan, cub reporter, was being packaged as a "young adult" novel. The story of the first novel (and evidently the second) certainly fits that category, as a coming-of-age story in personal and professional life. But that's also the case with Liza Marklund's series, at least in the first two novels and really all along as Annika, her own cub reporter, rapidly climbs the career ladder. Both series are perhaps a bit dark for the young adult category, though books for children can certainly be very dark. In terms of genre fiction, I think of science fiction as a whole as fitting neatly into the young adult category (possibly because I read science fiction when I was a kid and a teenager, and haven't been able to read any of it since, except maybe Phillip K. Dick and Alfred Bester). But the "noir" genre seems as a whole too world-weary for the young adult category. Maybe that's why Mina's Paddy Meehan might fall into the genre--in spite of a bleak setting (both her city and her family), Paddy is ultimately pretty optimistic.

1 comment:

Maxine said...

Thanks for this post, Glenn, which I hadn't read when I posted my comment about your Mina review- reading in reverse order, sorry (for some reason your The Dead Hour review came through in bloglines but the previous few posts didn't, so I'm reading down and catching up).

I don't see Liza Marklund's books as YA. I am not sure why, but I strongly relate to them in a way I just don't to the Winspear book I read and the Field of Blood. Annika is not a "naive young teen" in the way that Paddy and the main character of that Winspear book (young girl ex-nurse detective) is, and both FofB and W had more than a strong smattering of "romance fiction" about them which I think is utterly lacking in Marklund.

I also think Marklund writes much better than either of the other two authors -- Marklund can convey atmosphere, feeling and plot in a way that I don't feel the other two books came anywhere near.

I found it very easy to identify with some of the issues facing Annika -- what it is actually like having a serious job and being a mother of very young children -- the tensions and emotions are spot on. Also the newspaper politics is far more deftly handled than in the Mina book -- Marklund has been a reporter for many years and it shows.

None of these books is particularly strong on the "mystery" element though, it is true. In Marklund's case, journalists (whether Marklund herself as author or Annika and co) quickly get bored with a story and move on to the next thing. Her books convey that -- a sense of having to move on to the next assignment rather than seeing the current one through to all its outcomes.

But maybe it is all subjective, ie a matter of reader taste.