Something kind of sad has been happening. I can’t read young adult fiction anymore.
I wandered into a book store the other day and decided that I needed to add to my collection. I have always been a great buyer of books – in fact my whole family is this way. I have three cases of books in my room and at the moment they’re probably my most prized possessions. The mistreatment of books causes me physical pain. My friends can warn you of the dire consequences awaiting those who fold, bend, rip, smear, smudge or disfigure my books in any way.
In other words, Madam Pince and I would probably get along quite well.
Although – just between us, I almost dropped a book in the bathtub last night… shhhh.
Anyway, I decided that I wanted to read something a bit fluffy. I’m on holidays and as far as I’m concerned there’s no reason to exert my brain unreasonably considering I will be commencing law school at the end of the month.
I was loitering in the Young Adult section when an attendant asked me if I needed any help. I said, yes please, because nothing was really catching my fancy. I told her what I had just read: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
This book is very conspicuously literary as is to be expected for a work that has won the Man Booker Prize. The writing is beautiful but tricky. The main reason for this is because the author chose not to adhere to the conventional use of dialogue. She rarely uses any speech marks and doesn’t separate different speakers with a new line. At first, I was completely confused but with a little perseverance I got used to it and started to really enjoy the book. It’s historical fiction – Tudor fiction to be precise – and it deals with Thomas Cromwell, the mysterious self-made man who became one of the richest and most powerful figures in Britain . If you’re fascinated by the whole Henry VIII/Anne Boleyn affair but want to read something a little different I would definitely recommend it – so long as you’re prepared to dust off the old brain.
Before Wolf Hall I had read A Game of Thrones – if you’re a fan of the television series I must warn you, these books also involve some serious brain aerobics.
This is the reason I was after something light. But the attendant just shook her head and said, ‘You’re in the wrong section.’
Thinking back, I realised I couldn’t remember the last ‘Young Adult’ novel I read. This is because in the last few years the market has been saturated with books that go a little like this.
1. Girl meets boy
Girl is a quiet bookish beauty with no romantic experience. Boy has miraculously avoided the awkwardness of puberty and physically resembles a man of 25. He’s also a vampire/fallen angel/demon hunter/tormented bad boy of some kind. But shhhh. We’re not supposed to know this yet.
2. Girl discovers a terrible secret about the boy or about herself
Le gasp. Too bad, she’s still interested.
3. Girl meets another boy
While the girl seems to have been asexual thus far, she suddenly has a number of mysterious and attractive young men vying for her love. Oh woe is me!
4. Girl can’t chose between the boys
She makes out with both of them to suss out which one is her Mr Right
5. And just as we get to the good stuff . . .
LOL JKS buy the next fifteen books in the series please.
I can’t work out whether Young Adult fiction has always been like this or whether I’m just becoming a cynical bitch in my old age. I feel pretty sad about this. I really did enjoy books that I could read in a couple of sittings without having to invest much intellectual energy into the process.
So now I’m stuck reading intelligent books. Damn. Well, I guess it’s for the best.