Friday, June 5, 2009

The Graveyard Book

Cape Cod Weather Today: Rain. Again. 'Nuff said.

I took my daughter to the library yesterday to try and finds a few new chapter books that will hold her interest. I don't know why she's so finicky, but she is. I went through this phase with both boys at some stage, but the answers were different for each kid. So I went to the expert. The children's librarian.

My daughter wanted something funny and fast-paced like her beloved Junie B. Jones books, but I wanted something a little more challenging to her third grade reading level. She's tried (and not enjoyed) the Magic Treehouse series, the Mermaid SOS series, the color fairy series, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, the A to Z mysteries.... the list goes on of what she doesn't like. The librarian was able to steer us to a few new series choices that will *hopefully* work. We'll see.

But while we were sauntering down an aisle, I saw a poster for "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, reminding me of all the wonderful things I've read about it while trolling the internet when I'm supposed to be writing. And I remembered Elana's recent blog at "Mindless Musings" about reading someone else's work to take a writing break and clear your mind and all those other procrastination excuses...

I inquired, and was told the book resided in the teen section because of it's scary content. Since it starts with a triple homicide and all. (After reading it, I'm not really sure which section it ought to be in, but it certainly isn't gory-scary like some of the other fantasy stuff in that section. or in the middle grade section, even.)

I read the book last night, after the kids went to bed. 300 pages, including the illustrations, so finished it in about two hours. And the verdict?

I enjoyed it. It's very fresh and different. A premise I hadn't ever read or considered before. Plus, it seemed to bend and break a lot of what I thought were "rules" about writing, but did it all in a way that seemed okay. Definitely worth the time spent reading, and a good choice for summer reading lists.

One question I had after reading was - - if someone else wrote this book, would it have been published? If an unknown author broke this many rules, would an agent have been interested, or figured it was unpublishable?

I think my 11-year-old would enjoy this story a lot - quite a lot - but know my 13-year-old would not. He'd hate it. "YA" is such a wide range of ages and styles that it's hard to think of it as a single category. Theoretically, both sons fall into the YA category with their ages and reading abilities, but each has his own taste and opinions. The older loved the Twilight series, and the younger loved all the Scott Westerfeld books. The each have adult books they've enjoyed a lot, as well. (The older son read "Pillars of the Earth" at least twice so far, the younger ones "Jurassic Park.")

What is my point?

Write the book you want to write. There are so many readers out there that enjoy such an awesome variety of books. If the writing is good enough, your story will find an audience.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself ;-)

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