Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Humor in YA

Yesterday I made one of my offhand comments on Twitter about how I wished there were more humor in YA novels. (It seemed to me there used to be more, and maybe I was waxing nostalgic.) Sometimes on Twitter I'll get a few comments or retweets, but I think it's safe to say this particular tweet got more of a response than anything else I've ever said there. The overwhelming sentiment was, "Yes, please!"

There was also some discussion of why we all think there isn't enough funny in our teen lit. Here are just a few of the thoughts others shared:

@BethanyRobison (Bethany Robison): I think maybe funny is just really difficult to do well?

@jackiedolamore (Jaclyn Dolamore): For me it's that the funniest things are very specific and you have to know the world SO well but you also have to convey that to the reader. Like, you all have to know. That's hard.

@crissachappell (Crissa Chappell): I think humor = POV...how the character sees absurdity in the world.

@MissWendyD (Wendy Darling): Even books that aren't specifically humorous could use some levity, you know?

@EyeonFlux (Brian Farrey-Latz): I see very, very, very little humor in my inbox. So "fewer people write it" could be one reason. Also: humor VERY subjective.

@justinelavaworm (Justine Larbalestier): I've been told multiple times: funny is for middle grade.
Funny middle grade books sell better than funny YA ...

@cindysku (Cindysku): middle grade readers are growing up and they still want funny.

@rebekahswm (Rebekah Weatherspoon): do we need to maintain the illusion that teens are all moody and tortured?

@TLT16 (Teen Librarian Toolbox): I feel like sarcasm & snark are represented, but where is the slapstick? The No More Dead Dogs? The LOL?

But of course, there ARE humorous books out there, and people also shared recommendations in tweets, DMs, and email. I'm going to list the authors whose names were brought to me as examples. I will provide this caveat: I haven't read all these authors, so I don't know if I would find them funny. I don't know if you would find them funny. And not everything they've ever written may be humorous. Also, "humor" may mean anything along the spectrum from subtle hints to a sprinkling of jokes to a riotous laugh-fest. But someone somewhere found these authors funny enough to recommend, so you might want to check them out.

I've added a few names that came to my own mind, but I'm sure I'm missing names. So feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

Randa Abdel-Fattah
S.J. Adams
Jesse Andrews
Andrew Auseon
M.G. Bauer
Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman (co-authors)
Robin Benway
Josh Berk
Lauren Bjorkman
James P. Blaylock
Libba Bray
Ed Briant
Jessica Brody
Meg Cabot
Don Calame
Ally Carter
Cherry Cheva
Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (co-authors)
Dave Cousins
Brent Crawford
Tash Desborough
Kerstin Gier
Maureen Goo
John Green
Sandy Harper
Brent Hartinger
Rachel Hawkins
Shaun David Hutchinson
Geoff Herbach
David Iserson
Maureen Johnson
Julie Klausner
Steve Kluger
Justine Larbalestier
Lindsey Leavitt
David Levithan
Sue Limb
E. Lockhart
David Lubar
Carol Midgley
Sarah Mlynowski
Jaclyn Moriarty
Blake Nelson
Emil Ostrovski
Robin Palmer
Kimberley Pauley
Frank Portman
Sarah Rees Brennan
Louise Rennison
Andy Robb
Meg Rosoff
Jess Rothenberg
Rainbow Rowell
Leila Sales
Medeia Sharif
Holly Smale
Andrew Smith
Leah Spiegel
Natalie Standiford
Jonathan A. Stroud
Courtney Summers
Sloane Tanen
Kristin Walker
David Yoo
Allen Zadoff
Meredith Zeitlin


  1. David Yoo -- Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before kills me. There's a lot of humor in teen movies, so I wonder why it doesn't seem to cross over much?

  2. I think this is an interesting discussion. I love moments in YA books that make me laugh out loud, but they ARE few and far between.

    1. I'm glad so many of us are comparing notes on this! :-)

  3. Courtney Summers writes emotionally unflinching YA, but it's also very, very funny. Darkly so, but still. Frank Portman's KING DORK had me laughing from start to finish. For much more lighthearted fare, there's also Ally Carter and Meg Cabot.