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I backed out of a blog commentary yesterday so fast yesterday because I was just flabbergasted and quickly outnumbered. The general gist of the post was "wtf is up with adults reading YA, that's kid stuff!" and the general consensus is that people who read YA are a) intellectually immature, b) emotionally immature, c) incapable of higher reading comprehension, d) all of the above.

UM. How about I point at my middle finger with my other middle finger? Or may I offer you a cup of shut the hell up? The general tone of commenters was "people who loooove YA are so clearly just stupid adults that can't deal with adult things, and can't read adult sentences, and I'm an adult, did I mention? I only do adult activities and eat adult foods and walk like an adult. NO ARM FLOATIES FOR ME!" *eats adult-sized portions while wearing adult pants and adult shoes*

I would like to put out there for the masses that if you think this way, you're an idiot. No, hear me out: You are a big ol' snobbish moron. Also, you stink. I think it's fairly obvious at this point how I feel about a certain non-vampire vampire series, and guess what was held as the YA standard? Does that mean we should hold James Fennimore Cooper as the dialog/prose standard for American Writers? OH MY GOD, NO. Worst. Author. Ever. (Chuck Jones likened reading his writing as walking through a wall of hot jello. That's pretty damned accurate.)

And I gathered from a lot of the comments that the people with the attitude were wanna-be or baby writers. If you think you can write better than Mark Twain or Harper Lee, prove it. Because the day your words are read 130 years after you've written them and are REQUIRED READING for literature classes as examples of amazing writing - not childish writing, not non-adult writing, but FABULOUS writing - that's the day I'll take you seriously.

I also noticed a complete misconception as to what YA is. There was a complete lack of understanding that a lot of YA books are high concept, well thought out, and very engaging stories. Just because something is "adult fiction" doesn't mean it's automatically better, and you're a fool to think so. If you seriously think that Sue Grafton is a better writer/has more value as a writer than Madeline L'Engle, or Lois Lowery or Mark Twain, then you have bigger problems than I can help you with. Just because something has more "adult" topics (graphic sex, violence) doesn't automatically raise the bar for skill. That's absolutely ludicrous to think.

J.A. Jance, Maeve Binchy, Charlaine Harris vs. Harper Lee, Robert C. O'Brien, Marcus Zusak. I mean come on. There's no comparison. In Young Adult you have black, Asian, Queer, Trans-gender, etc. authors writing about blacks, Asians, queers, trans-gendered, etc. And it's not "this is a story of a Black Man hurting a White Woman and how we All Learned To Get Along" which is how most adult fiction stories deal with race. etc.

To write off an entire genre believing it's all Twilight... Well. You should know how I feel about that series. And yet I'll go to YA almost before other books. Just because the writing is accessible doesn't mean it's not well crafted writing. That means they did their job at getting you into the story. No easy feat, friends. The best high-end food is simple - but there is complexity in how it's crafted. They just don't want the eater to be bogged down with the craft, they want the flavors to be there without you working to get it. I'm looking at you, Jonathan Franzen, in this comparison. (To begin with. We can go on and on with crap "adult" authors.)

And hey. Sure YA also has stuff like Gossip Girls and Sweet Valley High (lol). And for every one of those I give you a Fern Michaels or a Danielle Steele or a DAN FUCKING BROWN. Dan Brown is the Stephenie Meyer of adult fiction, yo.

Anyway, that really touched a nerve with me, the hand waving and snobbery. I guess the positive is that these yahoos staying out of the library wing I'm in means the books I want to read will be available. Snobbery is never the way to go in any aspect of life, in my opinion. Except for when it comes to Mexican food, in which case I state that if you don't have people from Mexico in your kitchen, your food is moot. :)

Some great resources:
Black Teens Read 2
Voracious YAppetite
The Ya Ya Yas
I'm Here, I'm Queer, What The Hell Do I Read?
Forever Young Adult (My all-time favorite YA/book blog. HILARIOUS.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I picked up a copy of Hunger Games and plan on absorbing that today. :) (And finding out why I don't have a deck yet! Argh.)

*I realize I am not someone that can be considered an "authority" on literature, its genres, rating scales, keeper of data in relation to China's current tea pricing, but I am the leading Mormon Vampire Authority. And I'm the authority of your pants. So take this as you will. :)


( 115 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 26th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
An essay, in two words
Madeline L'Engle.

The end.
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
Re: An essay, in two words
Yeah, she's always the FIRST to come to mind in these types of debates.

The nose in the air attitude was so upsetting to me. Oho, you think you are a better writer than Mark fucking Twain? I don't think so.
Re: An essay, in two words - fishwithfeet - Aug. 27th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
Eh? I love YA fiction. *puts down copy of Order of the Phoenix guiltily*

People are so snobbish. You can often enrage them by explaining literary fiction as a type of genre.
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
Good music is good music.
Good food is good food.
Good writing is good writing.

DOesn't matter if it's Neo-Soul, fried chicken, or the Everlost series. :)
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
There was a complete lack of understanding that a lot of YA books are high concept, well thought out, and very engaging stories. Just because something is "adult fiction" doesn't mean it's automatically better, and you're a fool to think so. You can't seriously think that Sue Grafton is a better writer than Madeline L'Engle,

Damn straight. There are some wonderful Neil Gaiman YA novels (Coraline, The Graveyard Book), Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember and The Diamond of Darkhold are both lovely, high concept stories. And, hey, Anne of Green Gables is a classic! On and on. Crap comes in every category. There's plenty of adult crap.
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Neil Gaiman is another fantastic example. I'll put him up against Dan Brown any day of the week.

And as I mentioned just above here, good is good, regardless of where you find it.
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
I ♥ YA books, and I will read them more often than any other sort of books. I maintain that YA books are breaking more ground than most adult fiction, that they push boundaries, and that they can be incredibly well-crafted works of art.
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
You've said what I bumbled up there incoherently: YA books are breaking more ground, for sure. More YA books deal with social issues in a straightforward, meaningful way than "literary fiction," I say. Do I really need to read YET ANOTHER book about a sexually brutalized young girl as a metaphor for blah blah blah? Gah.

Edited to add a final note: it's nothing new, The Lovely Bones, etc. Do something unique, more hard hitting, I say. I'm finding that more in YA then in literary fiction these days. (Then again, I've not started on the Booker List, but you get my point.)

Edited at 2010-08-26 02:33 pm (UTC)
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
I love YA - and truthfully I have problems with the category only because I don't have a clue what makes a book YA other than (perhaps?) the age of the protagonists (only that doesn't always hold, because Nick Adams doesn't get Hemmingway a YA designation). The only YA book I've read where I legitimately felt like the language level was aimed lower was Alexie's Part-Time Indian, and it stood out because most other YA's I've read don't write simpler sentences / use shorter words. And the ideas are just as complex, just as thought-provoking as elsewhere (probably more so if we're comparing, say, Zusak to, say, Dan freaking Brown) and they're inventive! Funny! Clever! I would put up The True Meaning of Smekday against any "adult" treatment of the reservation system in the United States, or any analysis of consumerism and pop culture.

So. Anyway. Yes. I have no idea what makes a book YA. And I read a lot of them. They are good. The End.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
Right, right re: designation of the genre. I think there's a movement to better clarify the genre with sub-genres like mid-grade, and the new 20-something designation, but I can't recall what they're calling it.

Oooh, wonderful example of a great book, The True Meaning of Smekday! My daughter wolfed that down recently. One thing I love about having teens who read is nabbing their books when they're done. :)
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
I write YA because I love YA and when I was growing up, there wasn't enough YA out there that didn't beat you over the head with the LEARN THIS LESSON SKILLET. All I ever wanted was a good story, with real emotions, about real people and to get lost in it. I didn't need to be taught a lesso with a skillet to the head. (which is why I loved (and still love) Judy Blume. She got teens.)

I dealt with this type of snobbery when I lived in Oxford, MS. Cuz you know, all those literary types lived there and wanted to be the next Faulkner but would settle for Grisham if they had to. (yeah, cuz Grisham is SUCH the literary genious. and don't get me wrong, I like Grisham ok, but literary genious he is not.) When I was asked what I wrote and I said "Women's fiction and YA." I would get THE LOOK. 'Oh how inferior you are and why are you poisoning the air of our delicate literary town with your drivel.'

Yeah, well, HarperTeen published my drivel bitches. So suck it. (see how mature I am? Must be all that YA I read.)
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
Judy Blume SO gets teens. And mid-grade levels. Love her.

I knew you would have an opinion on this, given that you are an Actual YA Writer who is all Published and Shit. I'm so sick of genre (in any defintion) being looked down upon as being Less. And I suspect that a lot of the folks pooh-poohing YA are genre readers in the SF vein, and let's not forget that SF/Fantasy was considered drivel not too long ago before people cottoned on.

HAHAHAHA. Speaking of sucking it, WHAT ARE THE TITLES TO YOUR BOOKS? Because you should totally comment with a link to your books to drum up sales. :)
My books and stuff - oatmellow - Aug. 26th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My books and stuff - neko_hime_lj - Aug. 26th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My books and stuff - oatmellow - Aug. 26th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My books and stuff - raineishida - Aug. 27th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: My books and stuff - oatmellow - Aug. 27th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 26th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
You are right. There was an article in... the NYT (I think) recently agreeing with you (and me). Lots of people in publishing read YA because of its sense of wonder and maturity when dealing with big issues. It's not just for kids.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you NYT, for validating me! Heee. <3
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
I <3 Marcus Zusak! I love YA fiction that is well done. I haven't read Twilight and I don't plan to.

Gary Paulsen, Roald Dahl, Susan Cooper...I could go on and on. L'Engle definitely! Diane Duane...ok, I'll stop

Also agree w/ you on some of the CRAP adult authors. To be able to tell a complex and engaging story is a skill, and to be able to appeal to adults AND young adults is even more of a skill.

We don't need 100 pages of navel gazing tree descriptions of a tree not even relevant to the story (I'm looking at YOU Robert Jordan)

ahem, anyway

guess you hit a nerve with me too.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
I think you've made a great point: being able to appeal to adults AND youth is a talent in an of itself!

And I never mind being linked - it's public.
... - wickedsin - Aug. 26th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
post script...
would you be ok w/ me linking this post in my LJ?
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
I'll tell you what: I am inhaling the Vladimir Tod series, majorly face. Like I have to finish the 11th grade book and I think I only have 12th level. And I've reading 8th through 11th in under a month.

Did I mention that I'm 29 years old and can read Shakespeare, easily, but prefer the YA section lately? I also love Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr. I love any series that makes me *think.* They do. Therefore: see me nose to the middle of the page, enjoying them.

I also love SVH. Psychopathic Jessica and Lila? So there. (Probably why I love Lilah Morgan, actually.) But YA is a huge section full of good and bad authors. Just like any. I love reading and I don't judge a section based on readership designation; instead I judge based on writer capability.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I'm finding lately that YA is dealing with class/race/religion/social disorders FAR MORE REALISTICALLY than anything I'm reading the adult section. Which... that alone should give them bit ups, right?

And hahahahah SVH FTW! And yes - there's good and bad everywhere, but you can't knock an entire genre when you've admitted that you've never even READ ANY. (As some of the commenters bragged.)
... - veracity - Aug. 27th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
o.O Phillip Pullman?


Madeleine L'Engle?

Astrid Lindgren?

Michael Ende?

The list just refuses to end. Someone who claims there is no quality reading found in YA books clearly doesn't read enough.

Aug. 26th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
"Someone who claims there is no quality reading found in YA books clearly doesn't read enough"

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Aug. 26th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
I TOTALLY WANT TO MAKE THOSE BUSINESS CARDS. If I ever get published, I plan on putting that in my bio.
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
AMEN! Dan Brown is smart fiction for stupid people.

I have been reading YA since I was uh, a YA, and I don't intend to stop just because my drivers license says I'm not a YA anymore. I'm in school for my B.S. in psychology and my hubby has his B.A. in literature. We love reading and we never ever stop ourselves because it's too 'young' for us.

Tamora Pierce has lesbian and transgendered characters and taught me that it was okay to be myself when I was 14 and I remind myself of that every time I reread her books. How is that a bad thing to read, at any age? And if you don't love Harry Potter, it's either because you have no love for imagination and adventure, or you didn't read them.

Poop on the haters. I poop on you.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
Smart fiction for stupid people, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That's so perfect.

And as I've said elsewhere, YES! YA is dealing with more sensitive issues in a much more straightforward way (trans issues, race, social class) than I'm seeing in literary fiction.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
YA owns, haters don't know what's good, the end.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
BIG UPS! I would ghost ride your comment if possible.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
YES. This exactly.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
*shakes fist at people*

Seriously. Good books are good books! And also, there's nothing wrong with even reading light fluff if THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO READ! It has nothing to do with your brainz!

Personally, my snobbish tendency is to say VARIETY is the best way to read. But even if you only read xyz, whatever, reading is glorious.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I knew you would have an opinion on this. I was so bothered by the nore in the air attitude some people were displaying,

And yes - there's an old saying, something about spice, life and variety, but I can't remember how it goes.
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Aug. 26th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
Diane Duane. Her 'So you want to be a wizard' series still entertains me to this day.
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
You're the second person to mention her, which means I now need to go check her out!
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Aug. 26th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, I think they're two birds of a feather. both think they're much smarter and talented than they are, both have gaping plot holes, took tremendous liberties with established canon, and both suck. :D
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Aug. 26th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
Hahaha I was waiting for Dan Brown to pop up in there somewhere!

And lol at James Fennimore Cooper -- I grew up only an hour from Cooperstown, as well as an hour from Ft. William Henry and they are ALL about the Last of the Mohicans.

Also, what the eff? I mean, some of my favorite books were the ones I read growing up. They're the reason I continued reading, because hello? If I didn't come across good books, why the hell would I want to keep reading crappy ones? ROALD DAHL 4EVA.
Aug. 26th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
UGH I think Cooper's writing is just dreadful. And modern script writers clearly agree since every movie based on Last of the Mohicans has taken massive liberties with the plot, characterizations, etc.

Aug. 26th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
"Dan Brown is the Stephenie Meyer of adult fiction, yo."

YOU ARE MY KIND. Five bucks says that fully half of those decrying YA as beneath them, secretly devour YA when no one is looking. The Book Snobs Doth Protest too Much.

I'd never heard the Chuck Jones quote, but I love Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses".
Aug. 26th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, Mark Twain is the funniest, wittiest, most clever writer of American history, hands down. I love him so much. I would love to have a QUARTER of his wit.

The Chuck Jones "Chuck Amuck" memoir is fantastic reading. One of my faves. (If only for his story of his stray cat friend that ate grapefruit.)
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Aug. 26th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm going to link this in an LJ post I've been planning about reading snobbery. I will admit to being a book snob. However, it has nothing to do with genre: I refuse to read badly written crap that insults my intelligence (Dan Brown, Danielle Steel, ad nauseam). An acquaintance literally screamed at me for refusing to read Twilight when she saw me with Neil Gaiman's "Graveyard Book" (my 9 year-old nephew and I were both reading and discussing it). I said that if Stephenie Meyer ever wins any kind of literary award or stops writing crap then I'll consider reading her. Until then, I'm going to tackle "A Wind in the Door", despite the stink eye that the "Eugénie Grandet" has been giving me for ignoring it for two years.
Aug. 26th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
I love reading horribly bad stuff, because it's funny to me. I'm also a fan of parody movies like Airplane! etc. But that mediocre bad stuff that people are tricked into thinking is good? HURTS MY BRAIN.

Yeah... Gaiman > Meyer, by ANY calculation. WTH?
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Aug. 26th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
I made that same point about SF in another thread! It's not been that long since it's been considered "legitimate" literature.

HAHAHAHA, right! I'll take an excellent story/storyteller over an amazing sentence creator any day of the week.
Aug. 26th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
I think the only time "adult" is better than "youth" is when it comes to pornography. Ask your local pedophile! You can hit him up on your way to the dairy farm to learn how milk is made, or when you visit the library to learn all about the Dewey decimal system. You have my gratitude.

Also, I watched "Blown Away" on Tuesday night. Oh, Corey...you dry-haired, youthful mouth breather! DO IT AGAIN. (That movie was for adults.)
Aug. 26th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
I agree about the pornography, unless it's adult vs. animal, and you know kangaroos boning is always going to win my heart. It's the death kick that turns me on. Theht SHAYla's got a WEEKehd keek on herr.

OH MAN ISN'T THAT MOVIE OUTSTANDING??? Oh, Feldman with your Roy Orbison boned Michael Jackson and created you look. Ahahahahaha.
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Aug. 26th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
M.C. Anderson!! And Donna Jo Napoli! Seriously, look them up, I love 'em. Also, The Hobbit was for kids, trufax - and it's the only Tolkien work I can read without wanting to tear my hair out.

I've been reading since I was four or so. I will read anything that appeals to me, and some things that don't. A great deal of 'adult' fiction is either pretentious or lame or both. I will take gratuitous teen-speak over hackneyed plots and nonsensical motivations any day. READ 'FEED' BY M.T. ANDERSON, IT'S WHAT BRAVE NEW WORLD SHOULD HAVE BEEN. Fucking Aldous Huxley... anyways.

But like I say, I'll read stuff 'for adults' (Patricia Anthony! Frank Herbert! Alice Borchardt!) if I open the cover and it doesn't talk down to the reader. Genre notwithstanding. <3<3<3 so many of the great works I discovered as a youngun. (Garth Nix!)
Aug. 26th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, and Isobel Carmody. Her Obernewtyn series, with its post-apocalyptic goodness, seems to incorporate some elements of Australian aboriginal mythology (the author is Australian herself). Someday I will get my hands on the last book of the series, but I haven't come across a copy yet here in Canada.
Aug. 26th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
Aw, It kinda warms my heart that you wrote this . I was just thinking about this a few days ago. I was having lunch with some ladies and one of them brought up books. I was practically peeing my pants wanting to mention The Hunger Games but I didn't because I'm 25 and they were both at least ten maybe twenty years my senior. I know I should just be confident and secure in what I like and not care what other people think but I know that there IS such a big misconception about YA books, and that's all I could think about. Like, if I mention this series are they going to think I'm emotionally or intellectually immature etc? Anyway, thank you for this entry. I enjoy your badass rants.
Aug. 26th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
Well, as a woman that is 38, I would totes talk to you about YA books. If anything, how else the hell are you going to know what kids these days are up to? ;)
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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