The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) through the American Library Association (ALA), gives the Alex Award to “ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things received this award in 2007.
I understand why The Book of Lost Things appeals to teens. Connolly’s book contains many themes important to teens: coming of age, dealing with grief from the death of a parent, dealing with divorce, a parent’s remarrying, and learning to handle the addition of half brothers or sisters. Many additional themes appear in the book as well and Connolly deals with all these themes effectively in the book’s fairy tale world.
The Book of Lost Things would appeal especially to boys since Connolly tells the story through the point of view of a 12-year old boy named David. David’s adventures include fortifying villages, fighting monstrous beasts, and infiltrating fortresses and castles. David also learns to think on his feet and to think strategically. He learns from his experiences and applies what he learns to new situations.
Connolly wrote The Book of Lost Things as an adult book. It is an adult book that teens enjoy reading. As an adult reading The Book of Lost Things, I found large parts of the story predictable, but I found Connolly’s twists on well-known fairy tales interesting. The last part of the book deals more with David as an adult and I found this part of the book more interesting probably because I understand grief and loss on an adult level with an adult’s perspective. I did not have much patience for the first half of the book.
I feel that Connolly couldn’t decide which way he wanted The Book of Lost Things to go: more teen-centered or more adult-centered. If you read The Book of Lost Things, read it as if it is a young adult book, not an adult book that appeals to teens. I think you will enjoy it more.