I don’t remember the first time I heard about such a thing as a novel in verse, I suspect it was sometime in my teens, perhaps hearing about Dante’s INFERNO or Milton’s PARADISE LOST. Both of course are classified as “epic poems” among others such as Homer’s ODYSSEY or BEOWULF. I dabbled in reading epic poems in my late teens and twenties. I’m sure I thought I was a literary genius but to be honest, I’m pretty sure I never really “got” them.
I eventually wrote for film and television, then novels for kids. I kind of forgot all about reading “literature” and therefore any classic that hadn’t captured my fancy as a pretentious undergrad was now unlikely to ever make it back onto my TBR pile. The classic epic poems were relegated to the SRBPW (should read but probably won’t) pile.
Then a few years ago I read an article about Sonya Sones and her then latest book ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. Quite apart from having a deliciously ironic title I was surprised to learn this book was in verse. A novel in verse? Like BEOWULF? For teens? I was intrigued and a few days later Amazon kindly delivered this book to my door. I breezed through it, enjoying it very much but was fascinated to discover that it was essentially a collection of narratively linked poems rather than an epic verse. I was amazed how well it worked.
Since then I have read dozens of novels in verse and written one of my own, AUDACIOUS which will be published in 2013. My verse novel reading coordinates with all my other reading in that I mostly read YA and MG. However I AM branching more adult material lately (I read the whole Games of Thrones series for example) so in the next few weeks I’ll be reading a couple of verse novels written for adults too: Ellen Hopkins’s TRIANGLES and THE MARLOWE PAPERS by Ros Barber both slated for publication in the next few months.