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>Richard and I have been watching MI-5 (The Show Originally Known as Spooks) via Netflix. Andrew Thorne warned me not to get too attached to any of the characters, and I’m seeing why, as the show seems liable to bump off anyone at any time, either by death or banishment to a foreign country. It’s a very different experience from watching any high-stakes American show, in which any departure (lethal or otherwise) of a main character is scheduled for Sweeps Week or the season finale, and is accompanied by much drum-banging in advance. (Of course, this might have happened in the U.K. when the shows were originally broadcast–does anyone know?)

When i was speaking at the Simmons Institute this past weekend, somebody asked me if the broader parameters for YA (age range, subject, sheer numbers) meant that our expectations of the genre had become more uncertain. My first thought was that we have an awful lot of main characters dying in the first chapter, but since they go on to narrate from The Beyond it’s not all that disturbing. But are we thrown for more loops? Despite the ever-greater perils into which they are thrown, can we still count on YA heroes to stick around for the finale? Who’s done a body count?

Frankly, I’m up for any book which doesn’t make me say, “oh, it’s another one of those.”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >"Frankly, I'm up for any book which doesn't make me say, "oh, it's another one of those.""

    Good advice for any genre, really.

  2. >This brings to mind a conversation I recently had with a friend, who warned me about the high death toll in Torchwood and that the newest Doctor Who "dies more times than Kenny in South Park." I wonder if the thinking is that the only way to show real gravitas in fiction these days is to kill off a lot of characters? How attached can you get to characters if you have an "uh oh" feeling very early in the story?

  3. Melissa W. says:

    >Are you up to Rupert Penry-Jones yet?

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