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A World Beyond Narnia

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 21 March 2010

Louise Doughty explores the phenomenal growth of the Young Adult Fiction market, which made over £50 million in the UK in 2009, and asks if it is at last coming of age.

Until recently, when girls and boys outgrew the children's sections of bookshops and libraries, they moved on - for better or worse - to adult novels. This is no longer the case. The Young Adult Fiction market made over £50 million in the UK in 2009, an astonishing growth of 89% on the previous year, and while half of this was spent on Stephenie Meyer's extraordinarily succesful Twilight series, the genre does now seem to have reached a critical mass. As well as being a novelist and broadcaster, Louise Doughty is also the mother of a teenage daughter, and for this very contemporary edition of Radio Three's Sunday Feature, she explores the origins and appeal of the genre and asks what it tells us about the lives of teenagers today.

Louise's starting point is her own memory of reading the final book of C.S.Lewis' Narnia series. In The Last Battle, Susan is exiled from Narnia because she no longer believes and because she has become too interested in "lipstick and nylons and invitations..." but if Lewis had no interest in the teen years, there have been, ever since the 1950s, a growing number of writers for whom this readership is highly appealing.

Louise speaks to Richelle Mead, author of the cult Vampire Academy series, to Patrick Ness, Meg Rossoff and William Nicholson, all of them award-winning authors for children and young people, and she visits Crossley Heath School in Halifax to hear from young adults themselves about what reading means to them and about their likes and dislikes when it comes to "A World Beyond Narnia."

Producer: Beaty Rubens

  • Further reading suggestions by producer Beatrice Rubens

    Books and authors referred to in the programme were as follows:

    Meg Rossoff: The Bride's Farewell. Pub Penguin
    Patrick Ness: The Knife of Never Letting Go. Pub Walker
    William Nicholson: Rich and Mad. Pub Egmont
    Richelle Mead: Vampire Academy. Pub Penguin
    C.J.Skuse: Pretty Bad Things. Pub Chicken House

    Other books which may be of interest include the following:

    Black Out by Sam Mills. Pub Faber
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Pub Atom
    A Swift Pure Cry by Siobahn Dowd. Pub David Fickling Books
    Ronan the Strange by Julie Hearne. Pub OUP
    The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine. Pub Harper Collins
    Falling by Sharon Dogar. Pub Chicken House
    Are These My Basoomers I See Before Me? By Louise Rennison/ Pub Harper Collins


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