Monday, July 03, 2006

Spider Men



YALSA has named Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman a Best Book For Young Adults 2006, which mystifies me. Not that the book isn't good. It just doesn't appear to me to be YA. It doesn't appear to me to be published as YA.
They could have named it an Alex Award winner, meaning it was an adult book that appeals to young adult readers. But they didn't. They categorized it right with the YA books.

I think even an Alex Award would have been a bit of a stretch because I don't see a whole lot here to attract YA readers.

Anansis Boys revisits the fantastic idea behind American Gods--the gods of other cultures still exist here in America, though in a somewhat down-to-earth form. They have children who don't necessarily know their own fathers. Anansi Boys is much lighter than American Gods. Almost more run-of-the-mill, though certainly still an entertaining read.

Anansi, who has been hanging out in Florida, dies and his two adult sons meet for the first time. One of them is a godlike being. The other is some kind of an accountant.

There are themes here about identity and understanding your place in a family, which certainly are common in young adult literature. But there are no young adult characters and no compelling reason why the book should be considered more young adult than adult. Sure, anyone can read and enjoy this book. There's no reason in the world why it shouldn't make its way to some high school reading lists. But is it young adult?

I don't see it myself.

6 comments:

Leila said...

Anansi Boys did get an Alex Award. I hadn't realized it was a BBYA, too.

Gail Gauthier said...

How embarrassing. I checked, too, but missed it.

Roger Sutton said...

BBYA has always included both books published for young adults and adult books of interest to young adults. In fact, until the 1970s, the list only included adult books. In more recent years, the list has become weighted toward published-for-YA books--a situation that in great part caused the invention of the Alex Awards. (Margaret "Alex" Edwards herself was very dismissive of young adult books, although of course in her time they mostly consisted of romance and "career" novels--Jane Drives the Bookmobile, etc.)

Summer Institute NCS said...

A handful of my middle schoolers -- very strong readers -- read Coraline, wanted more of Gaiman, and loved Anansi Boys. It's funny and sexy and fast-paced and its central drama concerns the existential horror of having parents and siblings, so I think it's actually quite a good fit.

SpicyReads said...

BBYA means, just as it says, "Best Books FOR [my emphasis] Young Adults," not best books that ARE young adult. Your words make the case for this one: "Not that the book isn't good." "Anansi Boys is much lighter than American Gods. Almost more run-of-the-mill, though certainly still an entertaining read." In discussions, we heard of MANY teens who are hooked on Gaiman in general and this book specifically. For me, this was an incredibly easy "YES!" vote, which had the added bonus of making my teen daughter very happy with her father.

Ed Spicer

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