In Defense of YA Lit

I am of an acquaintance with someone who is an author. Ok, truly, I know a few folks who are authors (btw, congrats to Valerie, who was just signed as a YA author!!).

One of the authors I know stated “Look, all I’m saying is that “The Hunger Games” sounds like the title of a Japanese speed-eating game show.”

This really bothered me. It is very hard to find quality YA lit novels. It is even harder to find ones that both boys and girls will read. In general, girls read more than boys. However, I have had two high school boys ask me about the Hunger Games books. They were nearly giddy when I had copies in the library. In fact, I was processing books one day and hadn’t gotten to Catching Fire yet in my pile of books. I told the student to come back at noon for it. He did. That’s dedication. I also had a girl ask for the books, and she practically bounced in happiness that we had it.

Many YA novels are insipid, especially those titles that become very popular, like Twilight. Yes, I’ve read all four Twilight novels. I’ll admit to reading them all more than once. They’re like candy for the brain: bad for you, but hard to stop.

Meanwhile, The Hunger Games trilogy is actually a decent story, with a pretty strong female character, and the romance is kept to a minimum. How often do YA books actually create a character that the reader cares about, *spoiler* who then dies? This one does.

If you’re going to make fun of YA Lit, try writing it!



Filed under library

6 responses to “In Defense of YA Lit

  1. valeriefm

    It’s hard to find YA male writers writing for teen boys. If you think about it, all the best selling authors: John Green, Scott Westerfeld, Jay Asher, they write contemporary novels for girls (mostly, it could be debatable that boys can still want to read contemp). The feedback I hear is that boys want more high concept, high action, and when they get that in a book like The Hunger Games, they get a MC who is female (which, it’s also debatable that teen boys shouldn’t be turned off from reading a female protagonist, but the truth is, they are).

    With paranormal and fantasy fading out, I’m hearing that the new wave of book sales include contemporary and sci fi. So I’m hoping some really great gender neutral (or yes, I’ll say it “boy books”) stories start to emerge in the market. Agents keep asking for it, but the writers aren’t writing it.

    Just my 2 pennies.

    • One of the best “boy” authors I’ve seen is Walter Dean Myers. He has some great realistic fiction books. I’m really glad that there are boys reading Hunger Games.

      I think that in order to have more “boy” books, we may need more male authors. I hate to say that, but women don’t often write well from a male POV (there are plenty of exceptions, but I’m generalizing).

      • valeriefm

        Oh, I totally agree. We need more male authors writing for boys. I think some women can pull off boy POV (like SE Hinton!), but it swings the other way, a lot of males writing girl POV seem to be missing something in the voice. Without naming names (here at least) and without stereotyping, I’ve noticed that the girl voice always feels a bit flat with a male author.

        Have you read Michael Harmon’s The Last Exit to Normal? Great boy POV. A skater boy’s gay parents pick up and move their family from Seattle to Montana (a contemp and a romance, all without losing the male POV)!

      • No, I haven’t read that. I think I must…

  2. I have it if you want me to mail it to you! I read it a few years ago and it’s just collecting dust now 🙂

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