I came across this interesting Guardian article where a teen blogger for the site, Hawwa, explained that her interest in YA Books was starting to diminish due to the type of content that was being published out there. And, in my opinion, she made some good points. Here is some portions from the article:
My ultimate opinion is that all this comes down to the fact that these novels often do not explore ideas, but rather that far, far too much of the time there is a romance driving the plot instead. In An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, for example: Who were the Augurs? How could they do what they do? Where did the jinn actually come from? It felt like the author dropped in a few intriguing and exotic words, described a few trials and then let the rest of the plot form around lust/rape, murder threats, torture and confusing mystical beings… or real beings that actually belong in the world created? I still don’t know. Or Divergent by Veronica Roth: so popular, but in my personal opinion, so overhyped.
That word there – hype – is the problem; it is why I’m having such issues with novels, and it’s inevitable: the rise of fandom, the extreme hype, all that is perfectly acceptable – people are allowed to share their love for whatever book they choose, after all. However, what is also inevitable is the slow indoctrination of that hype into those who have never read the book: if it reaches or exceeds expectations, that can aid a reader’s opinion of a book. When it doesn’t, however, that reader feels as if they have just plummeted off a cliff and into a sea of ripped and shredded hopes – as dramatic as that sounds.
I crave books that nestle words into sentences that I do not understand. I want to go and find my dictionary every now and then: I want to be educated while I read. I want to be so immersed in a storyline that the world around me disappears and morphs into the one I am being woven into. I want to be inspired by a lace of rich and detailed imagination that I have never stumbled into before. I want more books with Jandy Nelson’s beautiful and compex sentences in I’ll Give You The Sun; and more books like – bear with me here – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.”
I want to start off by saying I have no problem with YA books.
But when I read this, I reacted “That’s why I don’t read a lot of YA books.” I need to be challenged when I read. I need to both absorb myself into another world and learn something new all at the same time. When I read YA books, I sometimes don’t get that feeling, which is why I try to stay away from them and read a lot of the classics. The simplistic sentences, weak story lines, and lack of variety.
However, I think Hawaa’s critique of YA books is really geared towards the ones that are more popular and over-hyped. I mean all the plots and themes she mentions are exactly like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent, all books that are popular but to some people have questionable writing. Not all YA books are like this and I think Hawaa just hasn’t gotten the chance to find the right book in the literary pool. She found The Fault in Our Stars so there is still a chance.
It’s okay for YA authors want to speak in a language that teenagers will understand. That doesn’t mean you should speak to them like their children. They may not be technically be adults but should be treated that way, especially when it comes to books.
If you want to read the full article, you can find it here.
Thoughts? All opinions are welcomed.