The Guardian has an article today asking why adults are reading children’s and young adult books: http://bit.ly/1A2TXsG
To me, it’s obvious – because they’re better.
The problem with grown-up books is that (massive generalisation alert!) when they’re literary they’ve got no plot, and when they’re populist, they’ve got no depth.
I once went looking for the best thrillers ever written. A website pointed me at “The Firm” – which was Ok, but a bit empty. Then I read Simon Mayo’s Excellent “Itch” – a young adult book which was twice as exciting, twice as clever, and had more intellectual clout.
The Hunger Games, A Monster Calls, The Iron Man – I could go on, but basically what these books have in common is that when you’re writing a children’s or young adult book, there are no excuses: if the kids are really going to like what you do, you HAVE to have intellectual and emotional depth, and you HAVE to have page-turning excitement.
Drop either for a couple of pages and you’ve lost them.
Adult writing can suffer from waffle, self-indulgence and transparent characterisation. Kids and young adults can spot this stuff a mile off and just won’t tolerate it.
Conan Doyle wrote in the intro to “The Lost World” (one of the best children’s / YA books ever written without any kids in it):
“I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man,
Or the man who’s half a boy.”