12/07/2009

A Rant

cat

I'm going to rant. You've been warned.

A few weeks ago during Twitter YALitChat we discussed Stephenie Meyer. I commented that she'd opened the door for so many YA authors - not only because of the popularity of the Twilight series - but due to her ability to draw in the adult demographic.

I never would've picked up Cassandra Clare's MORTAL INSTRUMENT trilogy or Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER or Lisa Mantchev's EYES LIKE STARS if not for the reawakening of my love for Young Adult literature. I didn't have a lot of YA books to choose from when I was a teen. Judy Blume led to the Trixie Belden series which led to the hard stuff - Agatha Christie mysteries, classics, LOVE STORY, even the occasional bodice ripper - because those were my only choices. Not so today.

I saw an editor comment on Twitter that we're in a Golden Age of Young Adult Literature. I love the idea that the door to YA lit is open wide.

But that night at YALitChat someone asked if the door is open too wide.

That really pissed me off.

I've thought about the question for weeks, long enough to forget who said it. I'm not mad at that person because it's a valid question; but I have to say I'm damned glad the door is open wide. Open it wider. Give me more. I find it difficult to read when I'm in the creation stage of a story, but when I'm in the dry desert of revision, the words of other writers are like manna on my journey to the Promised Land. Especially the words of other YA writers.

How can the door be open too wide when we have the talented gatekeepers that are agents and editors to filter out anything too rotten?

Even if you're of the opinion that some stinky stuff gets through: no book is universally loved or hated. What's my thing might not be your thing. Heck, sometimes even books I'm sure I'll love don't deliver. I don't talk about those books (example here). Why would I? There are plenty of options to choose from the next time I go to the bookstore.

With so many writers to love, why waste time on the hate?

That's another thing that pisses me off. I've seen comments lately shoveling out crap about books like SHIVER and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, calling them rip offs. Folks, that is bull hockey. I can guaran-damn-tee that any writer who writes a book with the intent of ripping someone off will not be successful. Rip offs aren't authentic and don't have a compelling voice. They might light a spark in a reader, but they won't start any fires.

One more thing. When Variety posted the news about the film rights being sold to BEAUTIFUL CREATURES the day before the book released, a commenter on the article suggested that Young Adult books aren't "REAL" books.

To that complete imbecile I'd like to say .... this isn't the right place for what I'd like to say, and I've already cussed twice, so let me just list some works that aren't "REAL" so any imbeciles out there will be sure not to read them:

Catcher in the Rye
Tender is the Night
My Antonia
Hamlet
Romeo and Juliet
Pride and Prejudice
Ann of Green Gables
Homecoming
Tom Sawyer
Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Harry Potter books (I think we can safely call them classics)
Peter Pan
The Wizard of Oz
The Chronicles of Narnia

Feel free to add your own. I'd love to see a whole freakin' list of YA titles that aren't "REAL" books in the comments section.

In closing, thanks for your patience with my rant. I look forward to seeing your opinions and rants of your own in response.

And FYI: I haven't read an adult book since MAY. I didn't finish that one.

26 comments:

  1. Amen!!!(That's all I really had to say bc I completely agree with you)

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  2. And hence begins a beautiful friendship, Ms. Frankie Diane Mallis. ;)

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  3. Can you hear that all the way from the west coast? It's my standing ovation! You go girl. I completely agree. Twilight has made a lot of young adults read again. Shiver isn't a wrip off it's an entirely different story that more than stands on its own. It's called a trend folks, not a wrip off! And I love it, the book and the trend! You're right, that door can't be wide open enough. There will always be gatekeepers to filter out the stuff that shouldn't make it through.

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  4. Here! Here! Well said!!
    What about all the Scott Westerfild books?

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  5. Heather - I actually used the word gatekeepers and took it out! Great minds! And I think Twilight has made a lot of grown girls read again, too. (I'm still loaning out my copy!)

    Aimee - Love Scott Westerfield. He is GENIUS. I'd kill for an hour inside his mind!!

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  6. P.S. You are awesome. :D That is all.

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  7. Kristin - Thank you. And I send you virtual cupcakes. ;)

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  8. Your last sentence said it all for me. It wasn't until I started writing YA that I started reading it and fell in love - the only adult books I've read lately are mindless romances that I can just veg to because I don't have to get involved personally in the story.

    And some of the best YAs I've read lately are unpublished - the good stuff just keeps coming!

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  9. J.S. - I know! I just bought the first Sookie Stackhouse in an attempt to be a grown up. But I'm reading Candle Man and I can't put it down!

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  10. I wish I could be that eloquent when I rant!! Beautifully said and I completely agree.

    I haven't read any Stephanie Meyer books, but just like J.K. Rowling, she has shined the light on kid lit and that's always a good thing.

    Rant on!
    (My word is brati - ha!!)

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  11. Sherrie - You're eloquent all the time! And I cussed. And used the word crap. I mean ... AND? I had to think about it for four weeks before I wrote it.

    I also agree with you - JK Rowling totally opened that door first. She is our Queen.

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  12. I love that your only label on this one is "rant." A certain book reviewer should have used that title to a certain post, eh?

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  13. M - FOR. REAL. I never did comment. I couldn't find any kind of appropriate way to do it.

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  14. And let us not forget the Tiger Woods effect: People like Meyer and Rowling bring major bucks to publishers and those major bucks 1. keep the publisher solvent 2.allow the publisher to take risks on unknown authors and 3. increase the amount of money in the pot used for advances on lesser known writers.

    Those of us who aspire to be published should be thanking them.

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  15. Does Little Women count? Cuz I totally read that before I even hit my teen years.

    *raises glass in toast* I completely agree. Bring it on. I love that YA is such a vibrant growing genre.

    P.S. You ARE reading an adult book right now. *ahem* Granted, in pieces. But, still.

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  16. I totally agree. My love for Harry Potter and the Twilight craze (and blogging) are the reason why I read more YA than adult literature now.
    Thankfully the writing community is (usually) very supportive of one another.
    Get a door stop and keep that door wide open!

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  17. >> that Young Adult books aren't "REAL" books.

    We've been dealing with that in Romance for YEARS! Heck DECADES! LOL That's when you laugh at the naysayers and (hopefully) laugh all the way to the bank!

    Amie

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  18. hear hear! door open too wide??? Good golly - I hate to see the door cracked. I think its harder now to get published than its ever been. am i missing something? I think JK rowling and Stephanie meyer have open doors - whether you liek their books or not.

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  19. Ah, yay! This makes me happy.

    Because as much as I enjoy clever parodies of Twilight on occasion, I'm getting tired of the constant hate.

    Maybe it's just because I get bored really easily, but there's so much anti-Twilight or anti-Vampire attitude out there that it's starting to make me sad. :( Just read something else. That's what I do. Wasting time on negativity is LAME.

    And I definitely agree with the idea that YA books are books too! I meet too many people who, when discussing book choices, put on a snotty voice and say, "Oh, Young Adult, I haven't read those since I was eight!" And I'm a young adult. If you don't like them, it's cool, but hating on them and looking down on people who read them is so not.

    Great post and I agree.

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  20. I completely agree with you, Jen. There are things I don't like about the Twilight books, but I DO NOT understand all the rabid hate. I'm so grateful that Stephenie Meyer has helped open the door further to YA writers. Sure, nowadays when you say, "I'm writing a YA book," the instant response is, "Is it like Twilight?" But this is better than the response YA writers used to receive - "So when are you going to write a real book?"

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  21. from Madeline L'Engle (add her Wrinkle in Time series to the list)

    "If it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, write it for children."

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  22. Let's not forget that this wide-open door has gotten many kids feverishly reading, my children included. I rarely read books as a kid... except Love Story and Forever...but my children eat them up. Keep that door open wide!

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  23. Right. ON!!!! Hit the nail on the head, Myra.

    In the last five years, I've only purchased 4 adult books, as gifts. I usually only buy, read, and write YA, because the messages and themes don't feel as heavy handed.

    My all time favorite book, EVER, is The Giver, by Lois Lowry, which I believe is now considered a classic. I love the message, and didn't even catch it until I reread it my senior year of high school.

    The YA door too wide? Hardly. The best thing about YA is adults can enjoy much of the books do. It can only stand to open communication between kids and parents, and more reading all around! A classification that gets kids AND adults reading? Why are some people trying to be elitist, when we have trusted Agents and Editors making sure the best gets published?

    My niece and I get into fun arguments about who gets to read what off my bookshelves when she comes over. We talk about the books, and because some subjects that come up are inappropriate for me as a 23 yr old Aunt to talk to her about, my sister-in-law has begun reading with us. And she's loving it. Three girls of varying ages getting together and loving books.

    That is extremely real, no matter someone else's opinion on what 'real' is and is not.

    Oops, sorry this comment is so long! ^_^

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  24. Let's not forget that this wide-open door has gotten many kids feverishly reading, my children included. I rarely read books as a kid... except Love Story and Forever...but my children eat them up. Keep that door open wide!

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  25. >> that Young Adult books aren't "REAL" books.

    We've been dealing with that in Romance for YEARS! Heck DECADES! LOL That's when you laugh at the naysayers and (hopefully) laugh all the way to the bank!

    Amie

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  26. Sherrie - You're eloquent all the time! And I cussed. And used the word crap. I mean ... AND? I had to think about it for four weeks before I wrote it.

    I also agree with you - JK Rowling totally opened that door first. She is our Queen.

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