Unmet YA Fix
March 18, 2013
Reading the back cover review snippets alerted me to The Rook being a “genre-bender”. (Ha, this was originally auto-corrected to “gender-bender”, which, I would argue, is also true of this novel.) The Rook is likened to Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ghostbusters, as well as the Jason Bourne trilogy, War of the Worlds, etc.
Perhaps drawn in with the Harry Potter reference, I found myself opening the cover of a book recommended by my brother (not a common occurrence). Craving a YA fix, I was prepared to jump into a dystopic world in which governance was based on chessboard mechanics. And that’s where genre busting began for me – I had thought, until a recent reading of The Windup Girl, that play with utopia/dystopia elements to be a classic YA identifier (e.g. The Giver, The Hunger Games), but this is not the case. I repeat, The Rook is not a comfortable YA lit fit!
Yes, Harry Potter elements may allow for a “rich secret world to play in” but this play is for adults and with this play, the genre-mashing continues. While softening to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, I have long held a certain prejudice against adult books featuring dragons and wizards on the covers. I’d accepted these elements if marketed as YA – I’m an English teacher and there’s a guilty pleasure for me to keep up to date with supernatural romps such as The Lightening Thief. My overall enjoyment of The Rook cemented for me what has been a slow journey towards appreciating Fantasy books for all ages, starting first with a Terry Pratchett audiobook and a head-over-heels infatuation with George R. R. Martin’s GOT series. I expect brother-recommended Sci-Fi and Fantasy books to become more commonplace in my reading lists – in fact, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Falling Free is lined up as an April book club selection.