My Big Rant & Things of That Nature
Monday, November 15, 2010
My Big Rant & Things of That Nature
Posted by Shanda
I don't read a lot of YA. The majority of my YA reads include The Hunger Games Series, the Twilight Saga, The Books of Bayern Series by Shannon Hale, and most of Jessica Day George's novels.
Obviously, I haven't read much of what you might call "mainstream" YA Fiction. I see a lot of YA titles mentioned on Twitter, in blog posts, reviews, etc., but haven't taken much opportunity to read them.
YA is big right now.
Recently I picked up a contemporary YA book at a large book signing with several authors. I decided to purchase her book after someone mentioned how much they liked this author's books. I spoke briefly with the author as she signed my book. She is very nice. I like her. I was totally excited to read her book.
I have a "thing" about preferring to read an author's books in order if I can, even if they're not part of a series. I like to see the growth in writing ability, etc. So I picked up one of the author's earlier books at the library to read first.
The cover is cute. Eye-catching. Funny, even. The story sounds interesting and entertaining. I got settled in and started reading.
I made it to page 49 before closing the book.
Seriously, I am so disappointed.
I am wondering, is THIS what "mainstream" contemporary YA Fiction is these days?
That the main character and her friends crash the graduation party I have no problem with. It doesn't bother me too much that there is drinking with the characters in the background, though I wish it could be otherwise. I am bothered that the main character takes a sip when it's offered to her. But I know it happens. And I know I'm reading a nationally published novel.
What bothers me is that they are passing a BONG around. And the boy the main character likes takes a very, very long drag.
But let me be honest here.
I think what really bothers me is that the girls didn't leave RIGHT THEN.
Several times the main character mentioned that her biggest fear was dying a virgin.
Maybe I'm odd this way, but even though I knew I wasn't the most attractive girl in my school, rarely dated and had only one boyfriend- who didn't kiss me once in the 3 1/2 months we dated- I NEVER worried about dying a virgin.
I am pleased to be able to tell my girls that I experienced my first kiss when I was 18, with the man I now call my husband.
Ironically, about an hour after I closed the book, I found a link on Twitter to this article, "How to Judge If a Book Is Appropriate."
I will give the author another chance. I plan on reading the book I initially purchased. I am hoping, oh how I'm hoping, that I will not have to put that book down until I've finished it.
I know that The Hunger Games is violent. That's why my girls won't be reading it until they are closer to Katniss' age, if it's something they even want to read in the first place.
I know that the Twilight Saga is full of sexual situations. That's why my girls won't be reading the books until they are MUCH older, and we've had several discussions, if they even want to read the books at all by then.
I don't like the idea of banning books. That's not what I'm trying to get at here.
But as an adult, I wouldn't want to read a book about an adult main character going to a party to see the man she's attracted to smoking a bong. It doesn't do anything for me.
It sounds different put in that context, doesn't it? Well, it does to me.
At a party with teenagers, it is seemingly "natural," but replace all the teenagers with adults and it's just creepy.
I wouldn't want to read a book about that.
I don't want my girls reading about it, either.
After all the work put into Red Ribbon Week, Public Service Announcements, health classes, and late night discussions teaching our children about the dangers of drugs, telling our children to "Just say NO," it seems so... hypocritical... to allow them to read books where the character is okay being in this type of situation. Like it's nothing worse than hanging out at the local diner.
I'm not so ignorant or naive to think that these things don't happen. All the time.
But if my girls ever find themselves in this type of situation I want them to leave RIGHT THEN.
And I want them reading books with characters that leave RIGHT THEN.
I know that books listed as YA are determined by the age of the main character and not necessarily the age of the intended reader. Considering that I found this book in the clearly marked "TEENS" section of the library, I'd say it should be assumed that readers as young as 12 are being targeted here.
I guess what I'm saying is that if it has YA on it, it should have a rating. Or at least a content warning.
Video games have ratings and content warnings.
TV shows have ratings and content warnings.
Even COMMERCIALS have ratings now.
I can hide the titles of shows above a certain rating on my cable box with my parental controls.
So what about books?
For now, I read most books before I'll allow my oldest daughter to read them, with very few exceptions (a few middle reader series from authors I know).
Also, from now on, whenever we (LDSWBR) review a book, especially one that falls into the YA category, we will include specific content warnings for sexual content, drug use, language and violence. These content warnings will include the context as well.
For example, if there is language, we will let you know the severity (how often was bad language used as well as if the f-bomb was one of them). If there is sexual content, we will tell you if it was limited to innuendo or touching or if clothing was removed, and so on.
Everyone is different when it comes to content. Some people don't mind things that strongly offend others. That's how things are and it's okay. It would be nice, though, to have a heads up.
Considering that we are LDS, and our purpose is celebrating good fiction that doesn't ask you to sacrifice your standards, if we read a book that contains objectionable content, we'll do our best to give you that heads up.
Our blog readers are the best, and we appreciate each one of you. Thank you!
Now, who can direct me to some excellent (and clean) YA Fiction?
Labels: Monday Miscellanies