Saturday, June 13, 2009

kids books vs. adult books

As a whole, I love fiction. I love immersing myself in a really good story. (and even better when that story is extended into a whole series! Well, as long as the series has an end and doesn't drag on forever.) I love character development; I love good stories and great relationships; I love new and interesting worlds different from the one I know. So... why is it that I find that this is more easily found in children's literature rather than in adult literature?

I recently read a book called The Lightning Thief by... some guy. Oh, Rick Riordan. It was fun in a Harry Potter kind of way but much different, too. The premise is that there are these children who were born of a human parent and a Greek god parent, thus demigods. When these children are made aware of their non-full-human state, they become a threat to other non-humans. Many classic Greek mythological themes are thrown into a cute storyline making for a fun read. But as mentioned earlier, this left me wondering why it had to be in a children's book context that this fun read worked. Plus, if this type of premise were created at an adult-level, it probably would be nothing more than a fantasy story or a trashy romance novel. Why can't something like this be simply literature?

I definitely have no answers, but it means I will continue to look for fun literature in the children's section for years and years to come. :)


Jennifer said...

Some other children's/young adults books I've read recently that I really liked:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I am the Messenger and the Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist!

I think there are good adult fantasy type books to be read out there, but you have to kind of dig through a lot of crazy stuff to find them. But I think those books tend to not want to be "fun", they try to be more "raw" or philosophical. I used to wonder when I was going to grow out of reading kids' books but it seems that's not ever going to happen?

burkie said...

okay, you shamed me into blogging, but i need to comment on yours, too :)

i feel the same way about fiction--i love good character development. the plot is secondary. tom clancy? -gag- the man will waste chapters describing a weapon system, but a few paragraphs on a character. the first series i fell in love with was The Three Investigators series by robert arthur (FAR superior to the hardy boys series, in my opinion).

perhaps one of the reasons why character development in so-called children's lit is often done so well is because the protagonists are most often children or adolescents whose very existence is defined by the fact that they are developing as human beings, they are developing their own identities. adult protagnonists are adults--already developed as people. they usually aren't going to go through a identity development process; they are going to adapt to situations based on who they already are. at least, that's my theory. at the moment.

i think i told you that i'm reading a mystery series by carol o'connell about a detective named Mallory, who is one of the most interesting characters i've come across in a long time. o'connell is spreading her back story over a number of books, and it's rich (if over the top, but who cares?). definitely not kid lit, though.