Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh, No No No.

It is midnight and I am cranky because I am tired, but anyway:

I’d just like to say I’m a bit tired of the jabs I keep seeing on reviews of YA books and, in turn, the intended audience. Like, “I didn’t know this was YA. It was quite a simple read.” Or, “This is good, for a teen romance.”

I get that some YA books are far from being the quintessence of quality. I won’t even elaborate on this because I’ll probably cut my cause short, but yeah: I get that.

This post isn’t to do with the stigma YA author stigma. (Though that in and of itself is a shame, too.) This is purely from an audience member standpoint. I am sick of 1) people using YA as a reason to suck and 2) people reviewing YA like it in general sucks. And more than anything I’m sick of how people insinuate that, just because there are a handful of crappy/formulaic/piss-poor books in YA, teens are stupid.

It makes you wanna shove, like, a Christine Fletcher, John Green, Libba Bray, Megan McCafferty, Melina Marchetta, CK Kelly Martin, A.S. King, Markus Zusak, Laurie Halse Anderson, M.T. Anderson, Philip Pullman, Sarah Dessen, WHATEVER, good book at that person and be like, go “good for a teen novel” on that, you fuckwit.

Or, way easier, it makes me want to just ask them what Catcher in the Rye is. And who the intended audience happens to be.

But hey, what do I know? I’ll just be on my way back to my room to read my inconsequential novels that further the stupidity inherently attributed to me because I am - gasp - a teen. :)


Alea said...

Hell Yeah (x2)!!!

Vanessa ( said...

Thank you Steph, you represent our YA book reviewing community so well with your words. :)

Fluck you, YA haters.

Amee said...

As I was reading The Catcher in the Rye the other day I was like, wait...this is YA! haha
It's also the fastest I've ever read a book used highly as literature for school curriculums.

sweetmelissa818 said...

Agreed. Melissa Walker posted a link yesterday to an article which does just that. It's a shame. I missed out a lot when I was younger because I was reading beyond my reading level (VCA in the 5th grade), but am trying to make up for it now. In the past 6 months I've read some of the most amazing books. Almost all of them were YA. There are so many AMAZING authors in this genre and there are a lot of people who are missing out. I'm proud to say that I'm a 26-year-old who LOVES YA!!!

Nancy said...

**HIGH 5's** You are soo right. You hit the nail on the head.
For me, reading is a voracious luxury. I am not the typical YA audience. Meaning...that I am not in the age range intended for these books. Yet, I find them amazing, thought provoking, emotion wrentching and simply brilliant pieces of literature that enrich my soul.

Why is it that because it is YA that it cannot be something beautifully brilliant and amazing?
Your list of YA authors prove the fact that this genre of writers is above par. It is that person's loss (anyone) who refuses to read anything that is YA because they believe it to be sub par.

Bookworm said...

Well get some sleep!

Gay said...

You go, girl. I like a lot of YA, and I'm approaching 50. SOME is plain stupid. But guess what... so is a lot of adult lit. I don't read that sh*t, either. Pick and choose, you know? That's why we have choices. Keep up the great blog.

Amy said...

I confess to thinking that I wouldn't really enjoy YA books since I wasn't a teenager anymore. Even when I was one, I was a literary snob. (which I'm not anymore) So I was beyond thrilled to discover that I was wrong when I finally started reading some again.

Good books are good books, period. And to say that the target audience for YA books is stupid does not give much hope for the future. People always seem to need an excuse to feel better than other people....don't let it get to you. :)

Anonymous said...

2008 was the first year that I read TONS of YA and I have loved them! So many GREAT, GREAT books out there. But I have to admit that I did use the phrase for a YA book that I just reviewed that was along the lines of "great for teens being introduced to the subject for the first time." The thing is, it was about the 5th book that year I'd read on the subject and the first YA. And it did feel different. It felt YA. But does that mean it should be less important? No. But I thought teens would especially enjoy it. After all, that is the targeted audience right? And yet, I'm 30 and I enjoyed it as well. Hmm . . . does that make any sense?

Lana said...

I completely agree with what you said here. Readers really should try to stop stereotyping genres outside their own preferences as being inferior.

I feel exactly the same way about my romance reading. Everyone who reviews historical fiction for example says: "I'm glad it wasn't a cheesy romance." as if every romance in the world was cheesy or generally sucked.

I'm no longer a teen (though I still think I'm a young adult), and I love reading YA novels. There is SO much in the genre that is amazingly written. I'm glad you said this :-).

Anonymous said...

First, I'm going to start off by showing my ignorance here, but I had no idea that there was such a stigma attached to YA. Frankly, I can love or hate a book in just about any genre written for any age group, so it just doesn't make any sense to me. A good book is a good book and a bad book is a bad book.

In that vein, I have to agree with your words, but something in particular caught my attention:
"And more than anything I’m sick of how people insinuate that, just because there are a handful of crappy/formulaic/piss-poor books in YA, teens are stupid."

I wanted to add that that same should go for some YA authors. I'm actually a bit peeved that some authors have clearly assumed that teens are stupid (or need to have things repeated a billion and three times for the point to get across) and it just grated my nerves.

On a slightly different note, I'm kinda curious what the straw was to bring about this post...

Lenore Appelhans said...

YA has some of the most exciting and creative books/authors out there right now. Sure there are some books out there that I say are more likely to appeal to teens than adults because they are written specifically to teens more limited experience, but never ever because teens are stupid - they are NOT.

Readingjunky said...

I guess I haven't noticed this much, but I think I mostly read blog review by folks who appreciate the genre. Thanks for speaking your mind, though. It needs to be said.

Okie said...

Well put. I'm an English major (have been for a dozen years) and I've run into a TON of literary snobs and it always bothers me...the people who become so elitist in their reading and yet are so ruled by stereotypes or the opinions of a very select few.

The YA genre is especially tricky because it's so hard to define (as your question about Catcher in the Rye so deftly points out). Yes there's a pile of junky YA books out there. There's also a huge pile of junky adult novels out there. Every categorization is filled with tons of crap and a bit of good. Sturgeon's Law is surprisingly accurate with it's claim that "90% of everything is crap."

When I go into a bookstore or library, I try not to get hung up on which shelf a book is on...but rather, I pick up the book, read the back, flip through some pages and decide if it sounds good to me. Reading is an intensely personal experience. Not everything will appeal (or 'unappeal') to everyone. If a reader doesn't like YA be it. But they shouldn't condemn it all off-hand. It would be like me categorically saying that all Romance is trashy, smutty junk and should be summarily burned. Every book on a shelf has appealed to at least a few people (or it wouldn't be on a shelf).

So I say Here, here!. Down with the stereotypes. No one genre or category is all-bad or all-good...and just because somebody likes something that you don't like, doesn't mean they're inferior or you're superior. It just means you share different perspectives...which is what life is all about.

Ali said...

Nice post. I'm long past the YA target audience age so I have no patience for "dumbed down" YA (and there's too much of it out there, IMHO--but the same holds true for adult books!).

Catcher in the Rye wasn't written with teens as the intended audience, btw--just a regular book for adults. It sort of evolved to be thought of as Young Adult lit because of that Here-and-Now teen voice, which was a new thing and the precursor to the tone a lot of YA books have. Which I happen to love.

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