Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clay by David Almond

By now you might have noticed that my most favourite reading interests lie with the crossover novel. By this I mean YA and Teen marketed books that any adult would read and LOVE. Teen books are hot right now as they have never been. When I was a teen reader I went straight to Stephen King and Anne Rice because Judy Blume only had one or two books for teens by then and there wasn't the idea of a "teen" genre. Just books written for an adult market which could crossover to the teen market. I'm talking 15-years-old-and-up teen, not YA specifically.

Now, with the rise of teen books, adults are turning their attentions to the fantastic fiction that is on a different shelf. And this is my favored niche. I love teen books that have no life outside a teen market as well, but I really enjoy finding the gems that could just as easily be marketed for adults. And there are more than you think!

Meg Rosoff, Sarah Dessen, Bernard Beckett, M.T. Anderson, Chris Lynch are all crossover gems. David Almond is a crossover gem. Most recently I finished his "Frankenstein" book, Clay. Set in what feels like Ireland in the 60's, Clay is the story of two boys on the opposite side of the ethics spectrum who jointly create a man of clay to dispatch their local bullies. Clay is dark and deeply resonant. The Frankenstein connection is unmistakable, but Clay offers a new take on a classic monster concept. And David Almond has a skill for dialogue. He can write a scene entirely through its speakers and you are left with everything you need setting- and character-wise.

His first novel, Skellig, now a movie starring Tim Roth, is one of my favourite books. Again, here is a serious story for a thoughtful reader.

My final say about crossover novels (fat chance) is that teen novels are more often written by adults and often show the integrity of a book written for an adult audience. Many are quite literary and are read for book clubs. If you haven't read a crossover novel (Twilight is one of them, albeit more genre, but still a good romance-adventure), I suggest you pick one up next and see what you've been missing.



Clare said...

Mandy, David Almond is one of my favourite authors. Skellig is just brilliant and I didn't know there was a movie. I wonder if it captures the essence of the book. His later books don't work quite as well for me as Skellig and Kit's Wilderness, but his writing is second to none.

I also think that as far as marketing the books to YA or adult, that's something they don't do as much of in the UK. I know it's been in the news lately about no ages on the backs of books but until recently I didn't see as much of a divide there.

A Canadian author who, I think, treats her audience with the same integrity is Martha Brooks. She can't write fast enough for me.

Anonymous said...


Apparently Tim Roth just plays Skellig as brooding and pathetic in the movie. I haven't seen it myself. Some adaptations I really want to avoid seeing, such as The Golden Compass.
And it is true that Almond's other works don't hold a candle to the brilliance of Skellig.

I think the crossover (teen/adult) divide comes from adults who are reluctant to read something marked as being "for teens". It would be nice if the genre and category/intended reader would not be indicated on the book itself. But then teens might miss out on some great books which would be buried in the adult section. It's a tough question.

I have not read any Martha Brooks! I know OF her, of course. What should I start with? Incidentally I have no books that I want to read right now, so I'd love to pick up some Martha Brooks.


Clare said...

Bone Dance is excellent, as is Mistik Lake. They are, respectively, the first and latest of hers that I read. She won the GG for True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. I liked it but didn't love it. A lot of my American friends, though, came to Martha Brooks through that one and thought it was amazing. It was definitely seen as crossover YA/Adult.

I'm also ambivalent about the YA brand, just answered a Quill and Quire post about it as a matter of fact. In some ways I agree that it "ghettoizes" the books, but in others I agree with you that teens may not find some of these great books otherwise.

What We're Reading! said...


Thanks for the M. Brooks titles. I will look into it. I'll let you know what I think :)
I do love that teena have their own sections in bookstores and libraries and we keep our teen section right beside our general adult fiction, as a way to show that teen fiction shouldn't be in the children's section, per se. I guess it's just a matter of awesome teen-fiction ladies such as ourselves to get the word out to other adults! :)
Here is a great blog about the crossover teen/adult novel, with reviews:


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