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06 June 2011


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I balked at the Ship Breaker rec too. Somehow a father hunting down his son to kill him is not my definition of wholesome.


OK, the B&N YA section does make me giggle with its 3 sections of "Teen Paranormal Romance." But that's not all there is. And "darker than when [I was] a child?" Dude, I read V. C. Andrews and Go Ask Alice and those books about anorexia and abused children and autistic children, and then there was the Stephen King and Dean Coontz that my friends were reading (ew).

I'm pretty sure that even if you count in vampire romances, we're practically having a YA Renaissance here. The quality is just higher all around.


I've never been a fan of any really depressing YA fiction and tend to avoid books about dark real-life issues like the plague. I didn't want to read them when I was a teen, and I don't particularly want to read them now.

So, if that article were true, how did I manage to be a voracious reader as a teen (who dipped a lot into the adult section of my public library, but still)? And why is it that I probably read even more YA fiction now that I'm an adult than I did when I was a teen? I don't read it because I have to, I read it because I enjoy it. There's some fun stuff out there.

I have to say, though, it doesn't look like Gurdon's taste in books and mine agree. The descriptions of most of those books don't excite me, and the only ones I've read are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Fahrenheit 451. I find it amusing that they are both in the "Books for Young Men" section - this is why I'm not really comfortable with labeling books as being "for girls" or "for boys."


I found Shipbreaker too depressing for my tastes -- but that doesn't mean I think it's going to convince all my students to jump off a cliff or something.
Actually, I've noticed (how could I NOT notice?) the current trend/obsession with dystopia. But, rather than assume it was harming kids, I just assumed it was because lots of folks have a negative outlook on our future right now and that is being expressed in fiction. Simple enough.
Be assured, though, that junior high kids still like vampires and zombies. :) I think they always will.


The article was so poorly developed that it does not seem worth commenting on. but the gender divided book list really pissed me off. Listing True Grit as boy reading is like calling Buffy a show for teen boys because there is fighting.

My mom did exactly what many critics of YA want, for parents to watch what their kid's read and choose what they think is appropriate. She would fight tooth and nail if anyone tried to get rid of a book from the school's library but told me that the R.L. Stine I wanted to read was garbage. We had a well curated and large library at home full of books that were award winning, but by the time I reached Junior High I simply stopped reading anything.

Now that I am all grown up I read like crazy and have a huge collection of books thanks to the fact that Books of Wonder and The Strand are both nearby. They are mostly YA books, which horrifies my mother, but delights me and my 16 year old cousin who gets large boxes of YA books after I have read them. Sometimes when I find a book too dark to finish (I'm looking at you The Dead and Gone) I send it to her anyway and not only does she read it in a day she goes and buys the rest of the series. Teens like the dark stuff, that's why there is so much of it in the YA section, it is simply the market responding to the demand.


I just love how the author recommends Z for Zachariah as a nice wholesome book for girls. Oh yes, a nuclear holocaust that quite possibly wipes out everyone but you and a paranoid murderer with a fallout suit that you ultimately steal thus leaving him to die, alone, in the valley where you were safe is SUCH a HAPPY book. Gads.
While I agree with the idea that parents should be involved with what their children read, and I don't enjoy reading the uber-dark books myself, the problem with the sentiments that the author expresses is that they are used to justify banning books, something that is a real problem and not just something the librarians make up. Furthermore, the ALA does not delight in publishing their Top Ten banned list, on the contrary, they publish it to show the country just how often a group of people is trying to infringe on the first amendment. And bashing Sherman Alexie because he wasn't sobbing that people were banning his books is so stupid. Judy Blume, the author's paragon of perfection, is STILL frequently challenged and banned. Does the author not realize this? Forever is constantly getting banned.
I'm beginning to loose coherent train of thought due to my rage at the this author's moral posturing and complete lack of logic. You don't like all the darkness in YA novels? Write up an article that highlights books that AREN'T dark, don't wring your hands and declare that the sky is falling. And seriously, if a child reads a book about self-mutilation and thinks "oh boy, that sounds like a great idea" and then cuts themselves then the child has an underlying issue. It is not the book. Moron!

Auntie M.

I really dislike the idea that this is a "renaissance" of YA. Sure, there's a lot more YA than there was, but I disagree that the quality is higher. There are more good books but there are also a whooooooole lot more bad books. It's exponential.

The truth is that there was plenty of dark challenging stuff thirty or forty years ago and a lot of it was very well-written. The author of this article didn't know about it because she was probably reading V. C. Andrews or The Bastard or something, like so many others who are ignorant of the history of the genre.

The thing is that back then, teens didn't have the disposable income and freedom to make their own purchases that they do now, so sales of YA novels were largely to libraries. (70% of the YA market was library driven in the seventies and eighties.)

Now the market is retail driven by teens themselves and YA books are appearing on bestseller lists and have big movies made from them, so they're on a lot more radars than they used to be. But that doesn't mean they didn't exist before and it doesn't mean they weren't good.


God. Has she ever fricking looked at a YA section? I have. And yes, there are sad things.
But as all-consumingly depressing and violent as this reporter describes? No.
And hello, sexist much?

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