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Author Topic: YA for young males?  (Read 10153 times)

Offline Overlord

YA for young males?
« on: January 25, 2014, 07:37:14 PM »
YA (fiction) for males is notoriously one of the most difficult genres to break into… Stephen Deas and Joe Abercrombie are some of the few authors deciding tackle it.

I was wondering why you think this is. Do you think it really is that young males don't read (they play sports, games, movies instead) or do you think there is something else - such as them skipping YA books in favour for fantasy books aimed at older readers?
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 09:27:52 PM »
Interesting question. It's not a big leap from Harry Potter to Wheel of Time for any young person interested in fantasy. That's pretty much the route I took. It's possible that Fantasy is saturated with male authors and male themes (or so all those seemingly angry blogs tell me) and YA fiction like Twilight, etc. provides something that many young women want, but aren't getting from male dominated fantasy. (I can't tell when I'm joking anymore and when I actually agree... Can it be both?)

Although, if I were being truly honest. I've never thought of YA being tailored to gender. I think of specific books as being written that way (such as twilight), but most of the novels that I've read and would call YA are also books that I would think of as genderless (like Harry Potter).

Offline Elfy

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Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 10:39:50 PM »
The Hunger Games seems to be as popular with males as it is with females and when it was coming out that was something pointed to as being a good thing. Robert Muchamore has written a YA series about a secret teenage espionage organisation that seems to appeal to young males. James Patterson has loaned his name to a series of YA novels that appear to be designed to appeal to both genders equally. Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books are about a teenage spy (almost like a teen James Bond) lot of boys like them and they were even popular enough to get a movie made. Plenty of boys and girls alike got into Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus series, same with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. There's the Percy Jacksons and the Skullduggery Pleasants too. Terry Pratchett has written a few books aimed at the YA market and I don't think they're exclusively read by girls or even YA's.

Offline ACSmyth

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2014, 11:27:49 AM »
The Hunger Games seems to be as popular with males as it is with females and when it was coming out that was something pointed to as being a good thing. Robert Muchamore has written a YA series about a secret teenage espionage organisation that seems to appeal to young males. James Patterson has loaned his name to a series of YA novels that appear to be designed to appeal to both genders equally. Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books are about a teenage spy (almost like a teen James Bond) lot of boys like them and they were even popular enough to get a movie made. Plenty of boys and girls alike got into Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus series, same with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. There's the Percy Jacksons and the Skullduggery Pleasants too. Terry Pratchett has written a few books aimed at the YA market and I don't think they're exclusively read by girls or even YA's.

With a few variations, you just about described my teenager's bookshelf.

Offline xiagan

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AW: Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2014, 01:11:54 PM »
Quote from: Justan Henner link=topic=5888.msg1#msg1
Although, if I were being truly honest. I've never thought of YA being tailored to gender. I think of specific books as being written that way (such as twilight), but most of the novels that I've read and would call YA are also books that I would think of as genderless (like Harry Potter).
This.
Can we please not say PR = YA? There are a lot of good, epic YA fantasy books with female leads I would recommend for boys too (Pierce's Tortall for example).
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Offline Sa5muelSB

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2014, 02:52:02 PM »
It is my belief that genre is never tailored to gender. Maybe, because it is hard to write or get a guy as the whole complicated by emotions type of hero...that is why I think that YA for dudes is a lot of work but it can be managed with the right kind of blend...
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Offline Elfy

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Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2014, 11:28:34 PM »
Oh yes I saw another series that appeals to both genders in another thread Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series.
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Offline ladybritches

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2014, 03:13:39 AM »
I think some of the series being mentioned here fit into the middle-grade category more than YA, and as far as I've heard, middle-grade boys still like to read.  ;D

Seems to me that with the popularity of paranormal romance, a lot of store shelves are lined with "girl books" (or books with girls in pretty dresses on the cover), which don't exactly scream "buy me" to sixteen-year-old boys out shopping with their friends. They might actually be avoiding that aisle.  What's interesting though, is that when I go to the book stores, I see just as many teenaged boys there as there are girls. They must be buying something, right? Gaming guides or graphic novels maybe? 

Anyway, Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series is another one that should appeal to boys.

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2014, 06:01:53 PM »
I think some of the series being mentioned here fit into the middle-grade category more than YA, and as far as I've heard, middle-grade boys still like to read.  ;D

That's my point though. For me, there wasn't much of an in-between from the Middle Grade's like Harry Potter (Possibly his dark materials, although the themes at the end are little more YA) to novels like Mistborn or Wheel of Time.

Part of the problem is that YA isn't that clearly defined. It seems like a pretty arbitrary label, dependent more on the target audience than the book's content. Personally, I would place Twilight in YA because it's a teenage character with age appropriate themes and I don't think the romance discounts it from being both PR and YA Fantasy. I would place Mistborn in the same category for similar reasons, but I would not put Hunger Games in that category (even though it is) because it's one of the most depressing books I've ever read, and violent in a non-detached way. Regular fantasy has its violent moments, but most fantasy is so fantastical (even series like Song of Ice and Fire) that it doesn't seem real, whereas Hunger Games is more striking in its realism.

Although... I guess I'm underestimating young adults. In my teenage years I would have read any of these books listed and did read or re-read most of them at that age.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 06:03:28 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline Elfy

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Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2014, 11:55:09 PM »
Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay was defined as YA. They even redid the covers as YA. That would mostly appeal to young adult males. It is a poorly defined area and the waters will only be muddied further with the growing popularity of the 'new adult' category.
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Offline BillBlume

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2014, 09:40:19 PM »
I think some of the series being mentioned here fit into the middle-grade category more than YA, and as far as I've heard, middle-grade boys still like to read.  ;D

Seems to me that with the popularity of paranormal romance, a lot of store shelves are lined with "girl books" (or books with girls in pretty dresses on the cover), which don't exactly scream "buy me" to sixteen-year-old boys out shopping with their friends. They might actually be avoiding that aisle.  What's interesting though, is that when I go to the book stores, I see just as many teenaged boys there as there are girls. They must be buying something, right? Gaming guides or graphic novels maybe? 

Anyway, Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series is another one that should appeal to boys.

This is very much the issue I have seen. My son is 12 and my daughter is 13, and I am frustrated by the lack of material within YA for my son vs. my daughter. That was the motivation behind writing my first published novel, which is a YA book tailored more towards boys (I won't name it, so I can avoid spamming).

The issue is complicated on many levels.

The publishers: They don't produce the content because they don't see boys buying books.

The boys: The publishers have a bit of a point. Between video games, movies, TV and the Internet, there are tons of things competing for the boys' attention... and they do a damn good job of outperforming books.

The bookstores: They don't stock the content for boys. I took my kids to a Barnes & Noble and when I let them get a quick look at the books on a faceout shelf, to see what caught their attention, my son needed much more time to find anything. Come to realize, the stuff tailored more for boys was placed on the very bottom shelf, where it's hardest to see those books.

Society: Yep! Society gets a shot here. I cannot get my boy to read Hunger Games. Floors me. It's an ass-kickin' book, and he won't touch it. The reason is because the main character is a girl, and that's just stupid. It's not "cool" for a boy to read a book about a girl. Girls, however, can read a book about a boy, and that's apparently perfectly fine. Major double-standard here.

The writers: With the market not there, it's easy to see why some writers would look at this and go, "If the publishers aren't buying it, why waste my time writing it?" I don't share that opinion, quite the opposite, but we see a similar issue with women writing thrillers that aren't romance driven--which is just as discouraging.

My son is a very good reader, so I find it frustrating to see this gap within the YA market. That said, there are some brilliant books within the YA market that boys aren't touching, and that's a horrendous shame... books like Hunger Games and Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I think the most rewarding moment in seeing my first book published was when my son read it without me pressuring him to and he enjoyed it.

Offline Overlord

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2014, 09:52:57 PM »
I upset someone over Twitter (I almost made it through January without doing so; damned, man… so close!), so I'm going to ask the question in a more PC way…

I think a lot of YA books are purchased by the publisher with a reader in mind. What YA books do you think were purchased - and subsequently marketed - with a male reader 13-18 in mind?
Note: I could list lots of gender neutral ones and - as I will in a sec - ones for 13 - 18 year old women)

My suspicion is that parents, publishers, libraries, etc see Fantasy and Sci-Fi as a genre for young males - if you look at the video game choices of most boys you will see shelves full of games such as Skyrim, Halo, Diablo, Gears of War, etc. Although the general belief is that 'young boys do not read', I think the other belief is that 'if they do they will read Fantasy or Sci-Fi'. I don't think girls suffer with the stigma of not reading, so publishers have created their own 'marketable to girls' label that they attach to books such as Twilight, Hunger Games (in the early days), City of Bones, Vampire Diaries, Fallen and so on.
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Offline Overlord

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2014, 09:54:27 PM »
Oh, wow, BillBlume's post and mine (which I hadn't seen whilst writing it) seem to draw the same conclusion :)
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Offline Arry

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Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2014, 10:06:45 PM »
There are statistics and research that show there is a definite gap in reading by boys vs. girls.

Here's just one such article on the topic.
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/676

As for the lack of diversity/available material, I can't help but speculate that it is a direct result of the gap in reading. If less boys read, then publishers sell less books that boys may find more interesting. They sell less books, they're going to publish less. I think the solution is more involved than just publishing more books (though, that could certainly help those that do read).

As for your question Overlord, I'm not much help  ::) My older son reads books for that age group some, but likely reads more Middle grade. And, he doesn't read enough that I have had to search for new releases.

« Last Edit: January 31, 2014, 10:14:59 PM by Arry »
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Offline Frankie Ash

Re: YA for young males?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2014, 10:52:12 PM »
I'm a female YA SF/F author and this is a great topic. I will be speaking at a university next month and would love to discuss this with the students; I think it's important to investigate. I'll post back with any insights:)