I flat out refused to read as a teenager. Didn’t like it. Didn’t want to do it. Took too long. I’m pretty sure this is a result of a horrific moment at the age of 14, having just started a new school, being coerced into reading (out loud) a passage fromMacBeth in an English lesson. Consequence = cock up. I could feel the heat rising through my ears and my face turning a deep shade of mortified red as I stumbled and tripped over the iambic pentameter and complex language.
Despite my distain for actually reading I went on to (rather ironically) study Primary Teaching with English at… wait for it… Reading University. It was here that I fostered my dislike for authors I can only describe as… verbose. The first book on my reading list by that wonderfully verbose author Hilary Mantel. (I have tried Wolf Hall since; I believe I have developed some sort of mental block.)
Now when I eventually do get the chance to read proper books -not literacy books - I don’t like reading to feel like a chore. I don’t want to have to concentrate too much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to know what is going to happen at the end from the beginning. I like to be gently guided to the ending with some obvious plot developments and some shady characters that you ‘just know’ are a little bit dodgy from the off.
It is with these requirements I have found a safe haven of teen fiction. At the ripe age of 25 I am rehashing the experiences I should have had with literature at the age of 14 and loving every minute.
In the last hour I have finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth (desperate to read it before seeing the film). Loved every minute of it and will be rushing to the nearest book shop to buy the next asap. And as I write now, an advocate for the love of teen fiction, I believe there is a teen fiction selection out there for everyone.
In my mind there are 3 categories.
The love story (aka. Tthe kindness of human nature.)
It’s not real love… no… teenagers can’t be in love… everyone knows that. The books of John Green fit perfectly into this category. And probably many more but this isn’t my sort of book.
I’m all over this genre like a plague of genetically modified locus. The Hunger Games, Susan Collins; Divergent, Veronica Roth; Uglies, Pretties, Specials; Scott Westerfield.
The real life drama (aka. Isn’t the world an ugly place to be?)
I have to be in the right frame of mind for this category. It depresses me in some ways and enlightens me in others. My mum likes these sort of books. I’m thinking Junk, Melvin Burgess (or just anything by Melvin Burgess). The most recent I read was Trouble by Non Pratt.
However my aim in writing this is not to create a comprehensive list of teen fiction. It is to say: I love teen fiction and I am proud. I will no longer feel guilty about reading books I enjoy. And finally there is a teen fiction genre out there that any adult and every adult could and should enjoy.
So next time you are in the bookshop. Just slide over to the teen fiction section. You never know!