April 30, 2009

The "YA Thing"

I just wanted to note the discussions surrounding the "YA Thing," as stemming from comments in Frank Cotrell Boyce's article in The Guardian last summer, in which Boyce referred to the "young adult ghetto." Much has been made of this issue and, though I feel passionately about it, others have ranted better than me. So I'm simply going to highlight a couple of the best responses I've read recently.

Laini Taylor chimes in (again) on the YA stigma. A favorite passage:
Teens are an audience any writer would be lucky to get. Kids too. Kids and teens aren't going to pretend to like your books because the lit-snob aristoi tell them they should. You have to earn them. And if you do, you will have earned readers who will write you wonderful emails, read your book ten times and tell their friends to read them too, create art about your books, dress up as your characters for Halloween, sneak under the covers with a flashlight to stay up late reading. You will have earned readers who will be transformed, and who will tell you so. If you don't want them, you really really don't deserve them.
She's absolutely right. Read the rest of what she has to say here.

Ms. Taylor also points readers to John Scalzi's remarks on the subject. Scalzi's Zoe's Tale is up for the Hugo Award for Best Novel this year and is considered "YA-friendly," as he puts it. Two of the other four nominated titles are YA. In response to dissenters, Scalzi states:
Yes, how horrible it is that some of what’s being hailed as the best science fiction and fantasy written today is in a literary category designed to encourage millions of young people to read for the rest of their natural lives. Because God knows the last thing science fiction and fantasy publishing needs right now is a whole generation of new and enthusiastic readers who might actually get hooked into the genre until they die. It’s a goddamn tragedy, it is.
Yeah. Couldn't have said it better myself. *bumps Zoe's Tale up in her TBR stack*

9 comments:

  1. I love these responses, they are absolutely right. I hate YA snobs.

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  2. Karen W.6:42 PM

    As a middle-aged woman who loves YA fantasy/paranormal
    novels, I *adored* John Scalzi's response, and it's spot on. Bravo!

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  3. While I am not a particular fan of YA *ducking the rotten veggies* I happen to applaud what Scalzi said.

    I became a life long reader because there were books all around me; books I was not just allowed but encouraged to read. I am glad that it worked the same way with my own children, but having good literature that is also age and interest appropriate is the only way to accomplish it.

    So let's hear for more, well written YA of all kinds!

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  4. aww man. why are people YA snobs? A good story is a good story, regardless of the "category" people try to put it in. Just let yourself enjoy it :)

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  5. Bump Zoe's Tale up more! It's awesome.

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  6. Liza, they make you want to stand up and cheer, don't they?

    Karen, it was an awesome response indeed.

    ALady, LOL. No projectile vegetables here. And I agree, what I love about these authors' responses is the focus on creating lifelong readers and not deifying (or vilifying) a particular genre above any other.

    Sharry, exactly. Relax and read already!

    Leila, done and done. Pretty sure I picked it up in the first place based on your rec.

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  7. Great post! Just wanted to stop by and let you know that there's an award waiting for you here!

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  8. Great post! I love YA! I love Scalzi's response. Perfect.

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  9. Lana, you're so sweet. Thank you!

    Natasha, when I read Scalzi's response I had to share it here. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, but I settled for blogging about it. :)

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