What is Crossover Fiction?

Late last night, I sighed with satisfaction as I finished Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. The bestselling duo had penned a perfect ending to a fast-paced story about a teen girl who finds herself in a Pandora’s box type of situation. Most readers expect a book from King’s workshop to target adults (who crave horror), but this one can be termed a crossover—a story spanning adult and young adult genres. King has done this before—in Carrie (the made-into-a-movie revenge tale that launched his career), The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and, a year ago, The Institute—with great success.

While many readers broadly define an Adult-YA crossover as a book that appeals to both adults and young adults, I’d like to narrow it with the inclusion of teens as main characters. Tons of teen readers enjoy books featuring adult characters by popular authors like John Grisham, Kristin Hannah, and Nicolas Sparks. But there are not as many written ABOUT teens that adults also enjoy. That’s what makes the crossover stories special for both young and old.

Think about the three giant bestselling YA series of the last decade—J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (though controversial, made reading cool again for kids), Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. They were written for teens, feature teens, and eventually were consumed by teens and, no exaggeration . . . millions of open-minded adults.

Or, how about John Green? He does a terrific job immortalizing Hazel’s battle with cancer in The Fault in Our Stars. And Jodi Picoult nails Chris’ anguish in The Pact, a heart-rending story of suicide. The teen protagonists in these two stories expose the issues of physical and mental illnesses with raw clarity to readers of all ages.

Another amazing work of fiction, geared toward adults and picked up by teens, follows angsty junior high hockey players in Fredrik Backman’s Beartown. I know nothing about hockey, but I devoured Beartown, then raced through Us Against You. Male teens will camp out with this two-book set.

Remember William Goldman’s Princess Bride? Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us? Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries? All beloved by a wide audience. Check out a list of more than 200 on Goodreads’ Adult YA Crossover Shelf.

Yep. I believe crossover books featuring teens are here to stay. What crossover book would you recommend?

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