After the other week’s brouhaha about the NY Times review putting down the entire genre of sci fi and fantasy for young readers, along comes an article about James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series (may require registration). Way down at the bottom of the two page article, there’s this stellar quote:
Mr. Patterson said that if he simply wanted to make more money, he would have developed another adult series. “I just am convinced that there aren’t enough books like this — books that kids can pick up and go ‘Wow, that was terrific, I wouldn’t mind reading another book,’ ” he said of his “Maximum Ride” series. “The most important thing to me is that more kids read these.”
I have to tell you, readers, this just makes my blood boil. I have no beef with Patterson as an adult thriller-maker (I hesitate to use the term writer, since almost every one of his books has a co-writer, credited or not, who seems to do most of the heavy lifting). He writes forgettable page turners that have been a huge success for his publishers around the world. Bully for him.
And sure, I understand the impetus to get involved in the YA world — his adult publisher has a YA division, YA books are big business right now, and he can craft plots for younger readers in the same amount of time it takes him to write up an outline for an adult book, maybe even less. What BUGS me, though, is the offhand comment that “there just aren’t enough books like this.” Oh really? REALLY?
I’m sure we can come up with a long list of fantastic, page-turning adventure novels for YAs. Most of which probably don’t benefit from Patterson’s giant name on the cover, or his publisher’s personal phone calls to bookstores requesting front-of-store placement. I’ll start:
John Marsden’s TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN series
SKULLDUGGERY PLEASANT by Derek Landy
KIKI STRIKE by Kirsten Miller (which had several editors I know waxing poetic with love)
The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
and just about anything by Scott Westerfield