More accurately, it is an issue of sub-genre.
Recently we have been discussing the issue of content and censorship in young adult literature. Because of explicit content such as the drug abuse in Swimmers, or the sex and sexual assault innuendos in The Shore Girl, complaints have been launched against the appropriateness and intended audience of the young adult literature genre as a whole.
While arguments could certainly be made the for the censorship of explicit drug and sex content in young adult literature, why are these complaints tarnishing the genre of young adult literature as a whole? I believe that issue lies in how young adult literature is classified.
When I visit a book store and make my way to adult fiction section, I find the section for the adult fiction genre broken up into smaller sections of sub-genre. There are shelves for fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, romance, and many other sub-genres. Erotica is even categorized on a different shelf from romance, despite at one time both of these genres being considered one. When I venture into the young adult and the children’s sections, I find no such categorization. Young adult books about high school love affairs share shelf space with young adult novels about dragons. Historical fictions about World War Two rub covers with books about drug abuse.
Perhaps breaking young adult fiction down to recognizable sub-genres would help to alleviate the overwhelming criticism that attacks young adult fiction. When an adult mystery novel has a disturbing scene that could be interpreted as promoting violence, adult fiction is not criticized, the mystery genre is. This is probably because the target audience of an adult mystery novel is mystery novel readers, and not adult readers in general. It is highly unlikely that the fantasy sub-genre of adult literature would be criticized for the content of a book from a different sub-genre. So why not do the same with young adult literature?
As it currently stands, the only target audience for young adult literature is young adults, and not young horror or romance readers. As a consequence, a novel by Darren Shan is placed next to a novel by Fran Kimmel, despite the only major thing that these two novels have in common is that they are both classified as young adult literature. Perhaps if sub-genres were utilized to divide young adult literature the criticism towards The Lesser Blessed would not tarnish the reputation of Harry Potter.
The next questions to answer then would be: what are the sub-genres of young adult literature? Do the same type of sub-genres used in adult literature apply to young adult literature? What new sub-genres would have to be created within the young adult genre? And most importantly in relation to this course: What sub-genre(s) would be used to classify The Shore Girl, Swimmers, and The Lesser Blessed?
I will leave the answers to those last questions up to you dear reader. Comment below what sub-genre you think the novels we’ve studied could be classified as. I would love to read about what you all think about this idea of sub-genres in young adult literature, and what new sub-genres you all think should be created within young adult literature.Thanks for reading!