It's interesting that Justin Cronin came up with with the bones of this book while hanging out his nine-year-old daughter.
I happened to start the book while hanging out with my nine year old son during our official "offline" hour. Just for family fun I started by reading the first few pages aloud to him, which very much seem to be written for a precocious child.
We've read a lot of big books together. "Harry Potter" of course, and "His Dark Materials." Like Cronin's daughter, my son is a voracious reader and read all seven "Harry Potter" books in two months when he was eight.
I'm well into part 1. And realized pretty soon that this might not be the best book for a 9 year old. Even if he's going on 10. But last night during offline hour I had to wrestle it away from him. And I have a feeling this might become a regular occurrence.
One of the may things I enjoy about the book, is how, amidst the brutality, there seem to be some of these embedded reference to classic YA. In particular the zoo scene, which seemed like Harry's snake talking meeting up with Lyra's polar bears.
I'm curious which parts of the book grew out of Cronin's daughter's contribution. I'm also curious, of course if she's read it. She's 13 now, from what I understand, so she'd be old enough.
Although, there's no way this would quality for YA. The world it presents is chilling in a very adult way.
And I'm pretty sure I have now read the three most terrifying words I will ever read: Governor Jenna Bush.