The actual publisher, Bloomsbury, deems [Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses] as for a teen audience. But if you’ve actually read the book, like me, this gives you a double-take. The graphic sex scenes in both this book and its sequel, though great in my opinion, are not suitable for the entire “young adult” audience. 13-year-olds finding this book in their section of the library is profoundly discomforting to me.
Mya Nunnally on women’s fiction.
This is from a longer article about the problems with speculative fiction written by women being constantly mis-categorized, in this case as being “for children” when it isn’t.
I found the quote above interesting because it’s something I ran into, albeit reversed, when trying to shop The Dragon of Rosemont High. The characters in that are about fifteen, and the book was pitched as young adult. But the feedback I got from multiple editors was that it felt “too young”1 for “young adult”, and that I should “rewrite it as a middle grade” novel, i.e. bump everyone’s ages down a year or two and set it in a middle school, not a high school. I had… Issues with this,2 particularly because at the time there was an active online dust-up going on in the YA scene with Actual Teens positing that, like. Maybe “Young Adult” fiction was swinging a bit too far towards the “adult” rather than “young” side.
And, to be clear. Like, DoRH deals with some pretty heavy issues; there’s violence and death, gore, slurs and the sorts of people who use them, and aspects of young sexuality. But, like. It’s about fifteen-year-olds, and is intended to be read by people who’re also about that age?
But, apparently, “books about fifteen-year-olds” fall into some kind of marketing black hole that’s too old for middle grade (i.e. children) and too young for “young adult”, which now apparently means “adults who read otherwise ‘adult’ books with seventeen-year-old protagonists”. Which… okay. Sure.
Publishing. Go figure.
- The fact that one Unnamed Editor From a Big 5 Publishing House also specifically mentioned the fact that the main character experiences bullying as making him feel “young” and “unlikable” was just… wow. That happened. And also ironically only the second hottest take I’ve ever gotten from a Big 5 editor. ^
- Not the least of which was being asked to essentially rewrite an entire novel on spec but, y’know. Never let it be said that publishing isn’t wildly exploitative! ^