Just as a preface, this post was inspired by a request from G.P. Merwede, who’s not a #1 fan of YA literature, but wanted to hear more of my thoughts on the matter. I totally respect that there will be a difference of opinions and I want to make clear that don’t like him or anyone else any less for having reading tastes different from mine. To each their own. But, let’s all be informed on the issues, shall we, instead of blindly hating a whole library of books?
There’s be a lot of scorn aimed at YA literature in recent months and years. People have been calling for a YA rating system (because of “profanity”), generalizing all YA literature as dark, depraved, and lurid, and generally believing that YA literature is poorly written, trashy, and unoriginal.
When you were children, didn’t you love books? Didn’t you read age-appropriate books (I’m sure you weren’t picking up tombs of acclaimed “great literature,” such as Anna Karenina or Moby Dick for pleasure reading) that still have a soft place in your heart?
Do you really want to insult your 14-year-old self by saying that everything you read back then, everything you enjoyed, was complete crap?
If you’re an adult and sticking up your nose right now; if, on the tip of your tongue you’re about to say that you didn’t have “refined” tastes yet, you didn’t know what “real literature” was yet, just stop.
The only reason that I can possibly imagine people believe all these bad stereotypes about YA lit is that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Literally, they haven’t read enough YA books (or any at all) to have a well-supported opinion.
As a basic qualifier, let’s say that you don’t have enough information, or haven’t done enough homework to know one damn thing unless you’ve read at least 5 YA books recently. A smattering of both classic favorites and recently published books. Once you’ve read 5 YA books and have done enough of your own research to have a real opinion–rather than parroting somebody else’s statistics–then come talk to me. I’d love to have a real, informed debate about the topic. If you still hate YA literature after reading 5 books, you have my full permission.
In a similar line of thought, if you’re going to leave comments below, you first have to list 5 YA books, ones you’ve honestly read start to finish. It’s like a resume, to prove that you’re qualified to join the discussion.
If you’re counting up books on your fingers and realizing you’re short of the required 5, try out some on the Goodread’s list of the best/most popular YA books, or some of the past winners of the Newbery Award. Also, I’m providing a list of some of my personal favorites. Once you’ve read five, then we’ll talk. Okay?
Book Thief (so well-written, the sentences and sentiments so beautiful . . . you’ll cry. Also, you writers might feel a tiny twinge of despair that you’ll never be able to write such an awesome book. Deep sigh.)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (if you haven’t read this yet, get a copy Right.Now.)
The Scorpio Races (so so so amazing)
(PS: All book links will take you to Goodreads, so you can add them to your “to-read” list! Friend me and we can share book recommendations :])