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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. :)

Comments

( 112 comments — Leave a comment )
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kita0610
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
An essay, in two words
Madeline L'Engle.

The end.
stoney321
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
parthenia14
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.
stoney321
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. :)
shipperx
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.
stoney321
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.
enigmaticblues
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.
stoney321
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)
sheafrotherdon
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.
stoney321
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. :)
oatmellow
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.)
stoney321
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
flaming_muse
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.
stoney321
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you NYT, for validating me! Heee. <3
wickedsin
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.
stoney321
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
wickedsin
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
post script...
would you be ok w/ me linking this post in my LJ?
veracity
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.
stoney321
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
flake_sake
Aug. 26th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
o.O Phillip Pullman?

Tolkien?

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.

stoney321
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
"Someone who claims there is no quality reading found in YA books clearly doesn't read enough"

HEAR HEAR.
... - flake_sake - Aug. 26th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - mosrael - Aug. 26th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
stoney321
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.
evamagick
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.
stoney321
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.
furikku
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
YA owns, haters don't know what's good, the end.
stoney321
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
BIG UPS! I would ghost ride your comment if possible.
(Deleted comment)
stoney321
Aug. 26th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
YES. This exactly.
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