Monday, June 26, 2017

On gritty middle grade/YA novels

As middle grade readers begin checking out YA books, the transition can be tough. To begin with, YA books deal with much different issues than your typical middle grade novel. YA books also tend to be trendier, grittier, and have very upfront and in-your-face love stories (or bizarre love triangles). Writing for middle grade and for YA is SO DIFFERENT as well - most middle grade is much fluffier and fun, while many YA books use more difficult words and are written in more real voices. For a middle grade reader who doesn’t quite know how to deal with these changes, I have a few suggestions. These are also for anyone who wants a bit of easy, but gritty, reading:
  • Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale - While this novel isn’t entirely dark, it has several dark aspects to it. Montmorency makes a Valjean-esque change from rags to riches and spends plenty of time being confronted with his past - while still trying to provide for his future.
  • Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix - In a dystopian future not to far from our own world, families are only allowed to have two children. Haddix explores the stories of secret third children - and the terrible danger posed with their continued existence. My mum read these books before I did and highly recommended them when I was young. It was one of the darker books I read at a young age and I remember being somewhat
  • The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick - In this Lord of the Flies-esque book, Philbrick shows a dystopian future where children run their own dark society and where some children cannot let go of their traumatic pasts.
  • Lord Loss by Darren Shan - This series is one of the bloodiest I have ever read. For many children, the themes (and bloodshed) in this book may be too intense. The writing is very middle grade and incredibly easy to read. Parents may want to read this book before offering it to their children.
  • The White Mountains by John Christopher - This classic science fiction novel was one of the first chapter books I remember reading. At age 8, it both intrigued and disturbed me. Reviewing it later in life made me realize it wasn’t nearly as dark as it seemed to me when I was young, but for a kid, this book packs a punch. While being easy to read, it can be a lot of very young readers to swallow. Highly recommended for introducing your child to science fiction.

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