Saturday, March 17, 2007

What's Missing In YA?

YA Authors Cafe is doing an open discussion this week on genres or subject matters that seem to be missing from contemporary teen literature.

I saw a few comments suggesting that mysteries might be underrepresented. That is interesting. I'm trying to recall if I've read many mysteries with characters above the age of thirteen or fourteen. The Gilda Joyce books feature a freshman in high school, but I can't recall anything else right now.

3 comments:

Katie said...

Mysteries are *definitely* underrepresented in teen fiction. There is a ton of it for younger readers and a ton of it for adults, but in between you pretty much just have horror thrillers and gore fests. It's very frustrating because the market is definitely there, and many of them don't want to read the adult books (many of which seem to be about librarians with helper-pets, which rarely appeal to teenagers). There needs to be more true mysteries. They don't need to all be murders, but mysteries with detective work and such like you find in the children's section. I'm tired of having to give teenagers Sherlock Holmes and the few semi-interesting adult selections that they look at skeptically, but still buy because otherwise they get nothing.

gail said...

I'm finding the lack of teen mystery very interesting. Perhaps this has happened because as recently as ten years ago I was told by someone at my publishing house that teenagers didn't read YA, that they jumped to adult books. The publishing world probably believed teens jumped to authors like Agatha Christie (as I did when I was a teenager) and John Grisham (as some of my young relatives did).

But now that you mention it, a lot of adult mystery does fall into formulas--cozies, tough single women, noir--that I can't imagine today's teenagers being particularly interested in.

Maybe Beka Cooper, Terrier can serve as a cross-genre offering--fantasy and police procedural with a teen protagonist.

Mago said...

I've got a nebulous, half-formed theory going here. Younger readers accept mysteries with protagonists their age because they don't demand the realism that YA readers do, and adults accept mysteries with protagonists their age because those can be realistic, but it's hard to write a realistic YA mystery (I mean without getting all Nancy-Drew/Hardy-Boyish).

For me, Agatha Cristie was tween/early-teen reading, and as an older teen I graduated to first Josephine Tey and Margarie Allingham, and finally Dorothy L. Sayers, before going on to my more varied adult reading choices. Can any modern writer match the appeal of that Trio of Mystery Queens?