Monday, June 28, 2010

Even the New Yorker Has Something to Say about YA Lit

For a nice introduction to dystopian novels for teens, take a look at t Laura Miller's article "Fresh Hell" in The New Yorker (June 14 & 21, 2010). She focuses on Suzanne Collins' fine Hunger Games, gives Scott Westerfeld's Uglies its due, and notes other works.

Miller notes why such novels -- series, often -- appeal: with so many hovering parents, any adventure is welcome; the pool of ideas is deep, and as "new" readers, teens don't mind if the plot is kinda like that one Twilight Zone episode; and they are not didactic. In fact, she asserts
Dystopian fiction may be the only genre written for children that's routinely less didactic than its adult counterpart. It's not about persuading the reader to stop something terrible from happening -- it's about what's happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader.
To sum up, Miller points us to Westerfeld's observation that perhaps dystopias appeal "'partly thanks to high school being a dystopia.'" Even if the machinations of the dystopia change, Miller predicts, the appeal to teens of stories set in a broken world, won't go away.

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