Guest Post: The Sad State of YA

Today is a very special day. It’s actually the wood anniversary of the day my fiancé and I started dating. That’s five years, in case you’re scratching your head. We’ve had some rough ups and downs, involving a three year long-distance relationship, two years living together in England, and now we’re settled in Australia.

Because of today’s relevance, I’ve invited my fiancé to write a guest post about the state of YA books. So without further ado, I will let him take over.

Well hi there, I’m a frequent commenter here.

You may have noticed me around. I’m Archer, the Viking.

I’ve been asked to write a guest post, about anything that I want. And I want to share my feelings on one thing and one thing alone.

What is it with the amount of Bad Young Adult Literature out there? I mean why are there some authors putting out books that are of a seriously sub-par quality? Do they think that writing young adult is an anathema to quality?

I have noticed this of late. I’ve branched out and read quite a bit of YA recently. And don’t get me wrong there are some absolute gems in the pile, books like Cinder, Seraphina and The Immortal Rules. These are all extremely good examples of the writing that can be done in the young adult genre.

Cinder takes a classic idea and completely reworks it in a way that, whilst being predictable because it is a Cinderella story, is immensely entertaining and awesomely written by Marissa Meyer. The world building and pacing are well done and the characters crafted well. Seraphina is a very, VERY intelligent read. Even compared to a lot of Adult Literature that I have read it is an intelligent read. Rachel Hartman has crafted a brilliant fantasy world and the intrigue is second to none. And The Immortal Rules? That starts to repair the damage done to vampires by Stephenie Meyer. Julie Kagawa has made nosferatu the hunters that they should be in a blood soaked post apocalyptic world.

Now when you take those 3 examples, yes they were the first 3 that popped to mind, and take the works of an author like Cassandra Clare (copy and pasted her own fan fiction!), Becca Fitzpatrick (the author spear heading the “Be Nice” instead of being honest movement against reviewers and glorifies rape culture, where a woman says no but apparently really says “take me I’m yours” in her work) and Alexandra Adornetto (an angel falls in love with a controlling prick in a nice middle class suburb rather than actually going somewhere where her help is needed), then there really are some differences in the way that these six authors treat their readers. Marissa Meyer, Rachel Hartman and Julie Kagawa all seem to write as if they were writing for any audience, but just happen to have written YA novels. Clare, Fitzpatrick and Adornetto, by and large, seem to have cobbled together works that are contrived, flawed, condescending and at best are totally unoriginal and badly put together or at worst… well at worst they romanticise the possibility of domestic abuse.

Now is it just me, or is there something wrong with that?  When did it become acceptable for authors, who despite what a lot seem to think are read by huge numbers of young people the world over, to write novels that not only glorify, but reinforce in the minds of impressionable young people, that abuse is OK? When did it become OK for a writer to work to a sub-par standard just because they’re writing to the target demographic of teenaged, primarily, readers?

I grew up reading authors like Melvin Burgess (of Junk fame) for god’s sake. His work was hard hitting, gritty, scary, moving, thought provoking, true to life, intelligent and most importantly well written. He and other authors of the 90’s, Garth Nix and Philip Pullman jump to mind, have had tremendous success with their works. They have been well received by more than just their target audiences. And whilst yes, they are far from perfect, they are at least well thought out, well structured pieces of writing that actually challenge the reader. That actually, even on some base level, cause the reader to think about more than the importance of being in a relationship.

I am saddened that authors like these, like Hartman, Meyer and Kagawa, seem to have fallen largely by the wayside. And that authors who promote, however unintentionally, and normalise ideas of success through modifying the ideas of others and domestic abuse and many other things that are wrong with the world are on the gravy train. It just makes me think, you know? It makes me ask myself why? Why have the authors who put out pieces of work that are profound and moving been pushed aside? And why are works that could ultimately end up in, and this is a worst case scenario, the death of a young woman/man who doesn’t know any better because of the relationships in these books, being pushed and publicised so hard? In my opinion it’s not right and it shows quite a bit about what is wrong with the way society thinks. But who knows. Maybe I’m just cynical and have missed something.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter. I hope it raises some good discussion. I’ll see you in the comments in the future.

Archer, Out!

Posted on May 16, 2012, in Guest Post, Writerly Musings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thanks for letting me post for you!

  2. great post! and I don’t understand it either…. *shakes head in disbelief*. It pisses me right off…

  3. You nailed it on the head. I’m disgusted with Cassie Clare, and her tactics for luring more fans in. And although I enjoy quite a bit of YA that even I know isn’t up to par, I basically LIVE for the books that are so perfect, it hurts to put them down.

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