Genre Guide: Young Adult Humor
It is almost impossible to define or categorize what constitues a “humor book” versus a “book that is funny.” Nonetheless, I think it is important to be able to point to books that have an overarching comic, comedic, or humorous plot. These are the books I will label as part of the “humor” genre, even though humor is a lot more complicated and broad than that.
According to arbitrary rules of comedy that comedians/comic writers break all the time, a comic plot is one that continues to escalate, or “raise the stakes,” until it is fundamentally resolved in some manner, and ends with the general success of the protagonist, often (but not necessarily) romantically. I’m personally going to say that a young adult humor book is one in which some comedic device, whether it’s a classic trope like the ol’ mistaken identity trick, or something more complex, like a plot that relies a lot on situational irony, takes up most of the plot. The plot can still include romance, fantastical or science fiction elements, tragedy, etc.
Authors to Know
- Louise Rennison
- Jake Wizner
- Libba Bray
- Meg Cabot
- Lemony Snicket
- Terry Pratchett
- Carl Hiaasen
- Joan Bauer
- David Lubar
Again, this is nearly impossible to pin down, but generally speaking, a YA book that is categorized as “humor” should make you laugh (or, at least, make a good number of people laugh, since comedy is subjective). Common themes might include situational or dramatic irony; black humor or dark humor surrounding death, disease, or plague; failed romantic attempts; main characters repeatedly making similar mistakes; wordplay; and satire or parody.
Well, who doesn’t love to laugh? Additionally, these books appeal to readers who might want a break from the doom and gloom of dystopian fiction. Some people also feel that humorous authors write more realistically than others, since we all have silly or funny things happen to us occasionally. Or, uh, daily.
An enormous range! One of the biggest ranges in YA literature, probably.
While there are no particular websites for young adult humor some good places to start include:
- Comedy by Andrew Stott (in case you’re annoyed or confused by my terminology)
- Humor in Young Adult Literature: A Time to Laugh by Walter Hogan
See this handy post I wrote a few months back!
— Chelsea Condren, currently reading Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris (a very funny book.)