For this purpose, we want episodic books, or those not focused on very complicated plots. We want to be able to pick up reading chapter 17, and have it make sense even though we read chapters 10-16 three weeks ago. Detective stories would only work if each chapter were its own mystery. (Mirable?) Or if the idea was to follow the character development of the detective, more than to figure out the puzzle the detective was working on. (Charlie and Constance?)
Both of us have a low tolerance for sexism. (We all know the difference between sexist characters and a sexist story? Good.) I can be ok with an all-white story, but not with active racial bigotry. We have limited patience with characters being stupid just because it's convenient to the plot. One nice thing about reading aloud is being able to call out the annoying bits as they go by...but we don't want every page to collapse into MST3K.
We had a good time with Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons and 2 of the sequels (the last in the series was less good, because of characters being gratuitously stupid, but not a disaster.) Naomi Kritzer's The House That Wasn't There was a somewhat more serious adventure, aimed at the young side of YA, and we really liked it. And A.J. Hall's The Curious Incident of the Knight in the Library was great fun.
There are a great many stories outside YA and fanfic that Redbird hasn't read yet. (Those categories do seem to help the odds. She's read very little fanfic, and only that YA which has crossed over to adult popularity.) In order to work for this purpose, YA needs to avoid dystopias and problem novels. Fanfic needs to avoid relying too heavily on the source texts--we read The Curious Incident of the Knight in the Library as a standalone novel with some peculiar character names. I think horror is right out, but other genres might work.
This entry was originally posted at http://adrian-turtle.dreamwidth.org/918