Stephen King's sequel to The Shining contains some real, grown-up monsters
Second, an entirely new literary genre, or at least trick of demographic marketing, has been invented: that of "young adult" fiction. In my day the choice was between children's books (Willard Price) and adult books (Stephen King). Now The Hunger Games is the tweenie juggernaut on which everyone wants to hop. I went to a few Australian literary festivals earlier this year, and every second writer I met confessed that they were working on a "dystopian Young Adult" novel.
I don't know whether the idea is that adolescents are too stupid to understand grown-up dystopian novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, or simply that they won't be interested in expending their precious media time on a book unless there is a teen romance at the centre of things. There is something terribly condescending in this industrial discovery or invention of the "young adult", but you can't argue with the sales figures. Presumably teenagers loading up on this stuff are not reading as many books by old hands such as King.
One doubts a writer of King's enormous success is too worried about this, but there are some ironic swipes at YA fiction in his latest book. At one point a character thinks: "It was sort of like being in one of those love-and-horror supernatural novels, the kind Mrs Robinson in the school library sniffily called 'tweenager porn'." There are also allusions to Twilight, Game of Thrones and the Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense – all of which is strangely reassuring, since in most genre fiction the characters have never read or seen any genre fiction. This is a shame because it might help them deal with the vampires or werewolves or zombies they have to contend with.