Over the last few days I’ve finished reading several fantasy novels. Some of them—like “Elantris”—I read by myself. Others—like “Nightmare Academy” and “Dragon Slippers”—I read with my two sons, ages seven and ten. One of the things that I noticed as I compared the different novels was the apparent age group for which the books were written.
Nightmare Academy has a very middle grade feel to it. Lots of jokes and a silly style of writing. The main character was thirteen I think, but my youngest son loved that book the best. I think my favorite scene was the “trout of truth.” Silly yes, but so funny me and my boys just about died with laughter. I also like the comedic side-kick, Theodore, who tells Marcus that his fists are machines of destruction that he can’t always control.
Dragon Slippers was really a little too old for my seven-year-old son. He liked the dragons but wanted more action and humor. My ten-year-old liked it just fine. It also had humor, but it wasn’t quite as silly. It was more the kind of humor that you chuckled at. No rolling on the floor.
I didn’t even bother trying Elantris on my boys. It was Robert Jordon type fantasy. Interaction of religion and science, plotting was slower, and the action dragged quite a bit at times. But it was very good and very deep. I enjoyed it a lot. As I did all of the books.
Some books are tougher to quantify. Is Harry Potter middle grade, YA, or adult? Depending on the book and section, it can be all three. I almost didn’t read the whole series after book one. But the fourth book is one of my all time favorites. Clearly all three types of books can be read by more than one age group, depending on the style you like, but you should go in with different expectations.
With that in mind, I have launched a new poll. I’ll post the final results of the old poll and my take on them tomorrow. Good reading!