Harry Potter, the Twilight series, Hunger Games – these are some of the most recent bestselling books in series for tweens and teens. Just this morning, I did a phone interview for my publisher about Eye of the Sword, fantasy novel #2 in the Angelaeon series. One of the questions: “Why does the fantasy genre seem to connect so well with young people?” Here’s my answer:
First of all, I wouldn’t limit the connection of fantasy only to the hearts of young people. That said, tweens and teens experience life with an intensity that fantasy matches. Teens are going through a natural process of questioning, wondering, and forging their own identity. They’re facing a lot of the darkness and real difficulties of the world for the first time. They have deep interior wishes and dreams – as well as anxieties – which fantasy addresses particularly well.
Fantasy shows us heroes and heroines confronting tremendous difficulties – physical, mental, and emotional – and shows our heroes overcoming those difficulties against great odds, which is not unlike the task that tweens and teens confront growing up. It’s just that in a fantasy world, the rules are different. I like that about fantasy. We can’t take a fantasy world for granted. It shakes us awake, keeps us thinking and on our toes (or the edge of our seats).
Part of what makes fantasy “true” – and appealing – is the moral cause and effect, the emotional cause and effect, the inner world. Yes, fantasy often reveals chaos, fear, hatred, vengeance, and despair. But the best fantasy uses chaos in order to get to calm, fear to get to courage, hatred to get to love, vengeance to get to forgiveness, despair to get to hope. Those are issues teens – and all of us – confront.
So go forth, find yourself a good fantasy, and read!