About the Youg Adult fictions in France

I am not a native English speaker/writer. Don’t hesitate to report any mistakes! 😉

As I promised on Blackwatch’s, blog I write for August 15 an article on Youg-Adult fictions (YA for short). Why? Because The Book Smugglers’ site invites everyone to write an article on it to close a series of articles to this category of fiction.

What is Young Adult literature?

If you’re French, it is normal that you did not hear much about (if not…). According to Wikipedia, it is in Anglo-Saxon literature on readers aged 14-21 years. In France, straddling the “Youth” and “Adult” categories. These two sectors are so compartmentalized that professional critics outright despise youth novels while some English language masterpieces (like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials) have been ordered in! Some publishers have coined the term “adulescents” (a mix between “teenagers” and “adults” words), but I find this is an horrible word.

Personal history with YA

I discovered unwittingly YA literature after having exhausted the vein of Franco-Belgian comics from the library of my collège. I was then 13-14 years old and looking for fresh stories.

Among other historical novels for young and and teens, I’ve found the first book of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. It was a revelation for me.

First volume of His Dark Materials

First volume of His Dark Materials (in French)

After devouring the series (although I have very fond memories rather mixed for the last volume), I stumbled on Harry Potter by JK Rowling. At the time, the fourth book came out. Me directing more and more toward the Imagination genders (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fantasy), I continued to delve in novels for young people.

On the side of science fiction, I discovered the Other Worlds collection by Mango editions, consisting of books for teens and preteens.

Les Abîmes d'Autremer (The Abysses of Othersea) by Danielle Martinigol

Les Abîmes d’Autremer (The Abysses of Othersea) by Danielle Martinigol

Projet oXatan (oXatan Project) by Frabrice Colin

Projet oXatan (oXatan Project) by Frabrice Colin

Regarding the Fantasy, I read and loved Eragon by Christopher Paolini. If I did I realized later that this novel was a pale copy and paste of an incredible number of stories, he had the merit to interest me in other YA novels from the English speakers/writers.


Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I’m not going to list all the YA novels I’ve read, but among the most notable series, I’ll only mention Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, Midnighters and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (Will I have the patience to wait the French version of Leviathan?), and finally the diptique Airborn / Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel.

Artemis Fowl 1

Artemis Fowl 1, by Eoin Colfer (French cover)


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (French cover)

Midnighters, book 1

Midnighters, book 1, by Scott Wersterfeld (French cover)

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel (French cover)

In short, here are four things I like and I like least in the YA, where English-language novels remain strong.

  • Young people who are going through trials. YA novels are generally more focused on the psychological changes of the characters. They across many kinds of difficult situations and grows.
  • Evasion. The adventure will leave his daily routine, discover new horizons
  • Waiting. You need to wait on average a year for the French translation of English books? When one is accustomed to a series or an author, we must learn patience … or have a good level in English and order the original versions!
  • The bad translations. There was a change of translator for the French release of the sixth volume of Artemis Fowl, and we saw that! I think it has degraded the quality of the story, besides being very disruptive. There is really no solutions for this, except perhaps a petition from fans and send it to the publisher in the hope that the future will be better … or reading in the original language.

And what about the French YA literature?

I’ve already discussed this Autres Mondes (Other Worlds) collection who could claim a YA classification, but the French fantasy is not an exception! The recent wave of YA novels in English which has followed the global success of Harry Potter is now catching on in France. I can cite such books as the most consistent the first volume of Raisers by Pauline Alphen, Phænomen by Erik L’Homme, or Opal’s Eyes by Bénédicte Taffin (release in the 9th September).

Les Éveilleurs

Les Éveilleurs (Raisers) by Pauline Alphen


Phænomen by Erik L’Homme

Les Yeux d'Opale

Les Yeux d’Opale (Opal’s Eyes) by Bénédicte Taffin

We can therefore conclude that the Young Adult Literature in France, although still recently here, is revolutionizing gradually the French literature by breaking elitist predetermined categories for years by publishers and booksellers. Stay tuned, then. 😉

On the theme of YA, I also recommend the article of Backwatch thereto.:)

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