R.T. Smith’s most recent post got me thinking about various books that are considered Young Adult fiction and the controversy that surrounds them. Often there seems to be a gray area between books that are considered appropriate for children and young adults and those that are geared more for adults.
Every Christmas I return home mentally exhausted from the last few stressful weeks of the semester, which were primarily spent in the library writing papers and studying for exams. Thus, it has become a sort of holiday tradition that I dedicate a large portion of my break to relaxing and reading “fun” books. Usually I pick these so called “fun” books based on my eleven year-old brother’s knowledgable reccommendations of books that he read and enjoyed. For instance, last Christmas I read the entirety of Rick Riordan’s popular series Percy Jackson & the Olympians. The Percy Jackson books describe a fantastical world where Greek gods still exist and it clearly falls in the YA category. However, this Christmas I deviated from tradition and chose a book that my brother had not yet read. My mother asked me to read the first book in Suzanne Collins’s best-selling young adult trilogy, The Hunger Games, in order to determine if it was appropriate for my little brother. The Hunger Games is a fictional portrayl of a post-apocalyptic country called Panem, which exists where the countries of North America are located today. Every year in Panem, one girl and one boy from each of the 12 districts are selected by a lottery system to compete in a televised battle, in which only one child can survive. Although the writing in The Hunger Games is simple and straightforward, the content is a completely different beast. The story involves complex political, social, and ethical issues and also centers around children being forced to kill other children. I read and enjoyed The Hunger Games, but I concluded that my impressionable younger brother was not mature enough to read it.
What is your take on The Hunger Games and other young adult fiction? Are there other novels that fall into this gray area? What about the Harry Potter series, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or The Giver: where do these books fall in the spectrum?