Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crossover Literature It's Ok to read them

Crossover literature is composed of stories that appeal as much to adults as they do to children or young adults. I didn't realize that I was part of the phenomenon or trends of the past decade, when I began reading the stories my children were reading and enjoying them. Authors who write crossover titles include, but are not limited to: JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, Suzanne Collins, Robert Jordan, RA Salvatore, Brian Sanderson, Stephanie Meyers, Philip Pullman, Mark Haddon, Tamora Pierce and Christopher Paolini. Some of these author's books have been published with different covers and sell well in both markets.

Crossover fiction usually has protagonists who are tweens. They are just on the edge of turning into adults. They are faced with tough life choices and most must grow up quickly. Many, although not all, feature some use of magic. Susanne Collins does not use magic, but technology abounds in her Hunger Games Series. This technology adds a feeling that big brother is watching you and knows everything. This in itself can be a form of magic.

Rowling's Harry Potter series is set in a magical world where anything can happen. As with most children's stories good usually triumphs over evil and true to the form of a crossover novel, a somewhat ordinary 11 year old boy is thrust into deadly situations that he almost assuredly will not survive. This is truly a coming of age story, one where the love and devotion of friends sees him through.

If you enjoy fantasy, Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time Series is an excellent crossover adventure. It also has 13 books in the series with the final story to be released possibly in 2012. It's a story packed with adventure, intrigue, magic and of course the good vs. evil controversy. Jordan's series begins with story lines and insight into each character's point of view. Most of his characters are children who are just on the cusp of adulthood and grow older as the series continues. The insight into each character captures the reader’s attention and holds it from one book to the next. The latest novel, Towers of Midnight,  is primarily Mat's and Perrin's storyline and lasts an amazing 861 pages. In comparing this novel to Tolkien's series, the latest novel is similar to the Two Towers. The 13th novel in the series is the gathering action. The battle against the dark forces begins in ernest and the struggle to survive is intense.

Of course, in most stories nowadays sex is everywhere, including young adult literature. Fortunately, this is done with more care in crossover literature. In crossover books adults are reminded of the innocence and purity of their first love and how life can change in a moment. Stephenie Meyer's novel, Twilight series is an excellent example of young love with consequences and choices.  The crossover novel shows children hard choices, pain and possible heartache depending on their choice. It gives them a look at consequences based on the decisions they make.

Most crossover stories have a mixture of light and dark. Crossover books can be dark like Pullman's The Golden Compass, JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or light hearted and not quite so dark as in Harry Potter. Graceling and its sequel Fire are a blend of childhood lightness and growing up which becomes filled with dark choices. The choices are necessary but each has its own impact on the world and what happens next. The characters can only hope that their choice makes the world a better place.

The primary power of a crossover novel is the story-telling quality. The reader, be they adult or child is hooked by the characters, the settings and fantastic plot lines. The crossover novel is by definition good children's literature. It requires the writer to stay true to the story line and entertain the reader. There is of course violence and emotional conflicts abound but there is a much broader sense of friendship that ties the story together. This is evident  in Shifter  and Blue Fire by Janice Hardy.

So don't hide the cover of your book. Chances are that someone sitting next to you has already read the book or it is on hold for them. You might  also be surprised to learn that the adult title you just read was also read by a teen. This has happened to me and often leads to wonderful and insightful discussions. So pick up a good book any style (juvenile, young adult or adult fiction) and read.

You never know when you'll find someone with similar interests reading the same book, even if you might be generations apart.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice! Now I am a cool granny. I took my copy of Mockingjay with when I visited my daughter. My grandson saw it and we ended up having quite a discussion.