YA, NA and MG Fiction Defined With Recommendations

Most readers will be familiar with the genre of books referred to as YA, but what about NA and MG?

Young Adult (YA)Eleanor & Park
YA fiction generally contains novels written for readers aged in their teens, or more specifically between the ages of 13 and 20. The stories feature teenage protagonists and often explore themes of identity and coming-of-age. Having said that, YA novels can be from any genre, science fiction, contemporary, fantasy, romance, paranormal etc. Some popular YA novels include the Harry Potter series, Hunger Games series, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Middle Grade (MG)
MG novels are generally written for readers aged between 8-12 years, with main characters less than 13 years of age. Themes can include: school, parents, relationship with siblings and friends, being good or misbehaving. Just like every genre, some MG books can have an underlying message (e.g. be kind to animals).

Some examples of popular MG novels include: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

New Adult (NA)A Court of Thorns and Roses
NA fiction is a relatively new genre in publishing, and in my opinion grew from the popularity of adult audiences reading and enjoying YA novels (Twilight and The Fault in Our Stars). The genre is situated between YA and adult fiction and protagonists are generally between 18-30 years of age. Themes include leaving home, starting university, choosing a career, sex and sexuality.

Some popular NA novels include: Slammed by Colleen Hoover (called CoHo by her fans), The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Elephant Tree by R.D. Ronald.

On my TBR ListInheritance
I have a number of books on my to-be-read pile from the genres mentioned above, including: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob Grimm, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes and 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson. What’s on your list?

Whether you enjoy MG, YA or NA fiction, the most important thing is that you don’t allow yourself to become pigeon-holed. Enjoy your reading, keep an open mind and explore new authors. You never know where your next favourite book might come from.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory What The

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryBook covers are something of an obsession for writers, editors, and booksellers. A good cover sells itself, achieving the almost elusive combination of intrigue and aesthetic that makes you itch to pluck the book from the shelf to read its contents.

Creating such a cover is, of course, part design skill, part muse-inspired, and part magic, which makes good ones much lauded and bad ones much not lauded.

The new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover due to be launched on September 4 is, based on the internet’s thunderously unanimous reaction, clearly the latter (which seems especially depressing given how iconic Quentin Blake‘s illustrations have been to date).

I’ll not deny I’m more than a little confused by the cover. For a bunch of reasons. (If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s got a Lolita-ilk doll front and centre, with a woman doll’s body partially visible.)

One reason I’m puzzled is because I genuinely couldn’t tell what was going on with the cover—to whom do the various limbs belong, and why does it look like the girl doll is sitting between the legs of the woman doll?

Another is because the cover’s a newly commissioned, freshly minted update to celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary. That is, it’s a fancy version of a cover of a perennially bestselling book that has a significant number of covers from which to draw inspiration and to reference and build on.

Also, the book’s important to both our collective book-loving memories but also to Penguin Modern Classic’s stable of profitable books. Those factors combined with the significance of the half-century anniversary would, you would think, warrant the publisher putting their best design minds on the job.

So what the hell happened?

In a case of it truly looks like the wrong file was sent to the printer world-is-fukt style, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been printed with a cover better suited to Lolita.

We’ve come to expect better—much, much, much better—from Penguin Modern Classics. In fact, when I first saw the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover design, I thought Facebook had done that annoying thing it is wont to do: display an image unrelated to the post unless you remember to go in and cycle through to select the one you actually want. Many other fans, it appears, thought it was a spoof.

LolitaOr worse, the designer and the managing editor (or whoever signed off on this disaster) hadn’t read the book. This is kind of inexcusable both because of its long-time-loved status—even if you hadn’t read it, you should know the gist of the tale—and because there were also a number of movies made about it too.

If you hadn’t read it, you could have cheated high school-style and watched a film. Failing that, wouldn’t you go for something literal, like a reference to chocolate or a chocolate factory as hinted at through the title?

And am I the only one to wonder why there’s a girl on the cover when the book’s protagonist is a boy?

Sure, there were a couple of girls in the book, but they were part of a cast of snotty-nosed children Charlie encounters and none of them are worth singling out on the cover. If they were going to reference the other children, they should have had an image that represented more than one of them.

BuzzFeed has collated the best internet’s responses so far, which makes for head-nodding- and guffaw-inducing reading.

Some of my favourites include:

  • You know how it always looks like a cover designer’s never read the book?
  • Just so we’re clear, that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover is one of the biggest publishing mistakes ever. Hitler’s Diaries bad.
  • Remember that really famous part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the terrifying dolls? Nope. Me neither.
  • Jon Benet and the Chocolate Factory. Creepy. Not in a good way.
  • Publishing protip: If readers confuse a book cover for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Lolita, not a very good CHILDREN’s design.

With this new version to be released in just under a month, I suspect this isn’t the last we’ve heard about this horror design…

Roald Dahl: the BFG (Big Fat Genius)

*Taps pen against chin*

Hmmm.

How to possibly write a post commemorating one of the most amazing authors of all time, that will actually do him justice.

I can’t.

But I can profess my undying love for Roald Dahl, a day AFTER Roald Dahl Day. Yes, dear readers, I was meant to write this post yesterday, 13th September 2010, on RD’s birthday. Life gets in the way, though, and before you know it 24 hours has past and it’s already the 14th. I hope he won’t mind this belated birthday message – from me to him.

Dear Mr R. Dahl,

This is a half-birthday card, half-love letter, from Yours Truly.

Most people will remember you for your awesome children’s books: The BFG, The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox. I know I always cross the street when I see a woman with ugly square-toed shoes, just in case she is a witch.

And your collaboration with Quentin Blake (aaah! Revolting Rhymes!) is a particular masterpiece I hold close to my heart, long after the primary school memories have faded. I’ve always wondered: how many people WERE disgusted, when Cinderella’s panties busted?

I know, Mr Dahl, that you tried your hand at some more ‘mature’ works, and I’m sure they are very fine. But my very favourite of yours is a lesser-known picture book, gifted to me very young, by my very favourite uncle. The Minpins filled my childhood nights with dreams of finding ripe red strawberries in back woods, in the Forest of Sin. I wished I was Billy, and I wished I had come across those miniature little people and saved them from the hot breath of the Gruncher. I think you must have known that the monsters surrounded by fiery breath (so you can never get a proper view of what they actually look like) are the scariest of all. I always wished for a pet swan like Billy’s, that I could ride on up into the clouds. And I remember how devastated I was the day Billy got too big to be carried by the swan. I guess girls and boys have to grow up sometime. But still, did you have to put that bit in, Mr Dahl?

In short, I think every child should own a copy of The Minpins, and I hope you don’t mind me marketing it so blatantly on my Boomerang Books blog…

Anyway – what I’m trying to say is – you’re the best. Happy birthday, Mr Dahl. Wherever you are. May your endless days be filled with golden tickets, everlasting gobstoppers, swan rides, and the best strawberries you’ve ever tasted, straight from the forest floor.

Lots of love and blue spit, xxxxxx