Let’s Talk…Slaying my way through YA judgers *cough* possibly a rant *cough*

YA judgers

Now, this should be a fun one. 

Right now I’m suffering through a heat stroke, my head has been pounding for the last few hours and I have very little energy (thanks to my own stubbornness to enjoy the rare sun by sitting on the garden reading for too long). But I’m mustering up just enough energy to write this discussion for you guys.

And by discussion, I mean “rant”, because this topic just gets me so riled up.

What’s this topic?

People judging the YA genre for the worst.

Let’s do this.

what sparked it.

Journalist “news stories”.

There’s been so many news articles lately that are basically just claiming YA books are bad in every way, shape and form.

In this one, they dub books about illness “teen sick-lit” and say it’s distasteful, while books about self-harm/murder/mental illness are breaking taboo. Brings up The Fault in Our Stars, Thirteen Reasons Why, and The Lovely Bones, as well as many others. There were even quotes saying ‘I’d finish reading and immediately reach for my blade.’

Yes, I agree that some books can glamorise illness. But this article is basically just one sided, and makes it sound like teenagers will copy whatever happens in the book. I’m sure it does happen…once or twice. And yet it’s written here as if every teenager that reads a book about self harm will start doing it themselves, as if the entire book was encouraging them to do it rather than showing them NOT to.

In this one, the writer claims darkness is dominating YA, with most books being about family breakdowns, gender uncertainty, bullying etc. They even make the point that maybe it’s because today’s teenagers are pampered and want to be reminded that other people live through harder times. They compare the hard hitting topics of today’s books to the “fairy-tale” romance of classics such as Pride and Prejudice.

To that, all I can say is…WHAAAT? Sure, in the article the writer says that the “dark” topics are important too, but then they just brush it aside saying “the majority of people don’t suffer from these topics”. Well so what? Doesn’t mean they don’t want to educate themselves! And can I just point out that ALL the books hinted at or mentioned are contemporaries? If you want something more fun, adventurous, something more enjoyable than thought-provoking, then pick up another genre! There’s plenty of fun fantasy adventures out there!

And that’s only TWO articles I found when doing a quick search about YA books on news websites. I hadn’t even seen those two before starting this discussion, so it just shows how many are floating around on the internet out there.

what do they say

These are the most common things I’ve seen…

All YA books influence young adults into believing unrealistic situations. 

YA books are all dark topics and are making teenagers gloomy.

YA books glamourise illness and encourage teenagers to self harm.

YA fantasy is unrealistic and clouds people’s judgement.

YA books are full of love triangles.

YA books aren’t as educationally stimulating as classics and are making teenagers soft minded.

my say

First of all, YA books are usually defined by the age of the main character. If the main character is a young adult, it’ll attract young adult readers more.

So HOW can a fictional person’s AGE affect the quality of writing? How does that automatically mean it’s a bad influence? How does that mean it’s not as educational as classics?

Think of it this way, if classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights were published now, they’d be YA. With no changes made to the story. They’d be YA. The only difference is when they were published.

Secondly, YOUNG ADULTS ARE NOT SO EASILY INFLUENCED. 

Every single article I’ve seen so far that talk about how bad YA books are, they ALL suggest that teenagers and young adults are easily influenced. That we’re all gullible little creatures that need protecting from the wide world. They all make out that we can’t form our own opinions, and the second we read something that’s opposite our own thoughts, we’ll just switch to that opinion instead. If we read a sad story, we’ll want it to happen to us. I don’t think so.

I honestly get offended by these sort of articles. Offended that they believe we’re so gullible. Offended on behalf of the author and their hard work being trashed. Offended for the people who struggle with the topics discussed, only to read articles like this claiming “the majority don’t struggle so we don’t need so many of these books”.

Young people nowadays are more open-minded than ever. We want more diversity. We want to learn. We know what we want to read about. It’s not like all these “gloomy” books with IMPORTANT issues are forced on us. We only read what we want to read. 

Third, YA books aren’t all full of love triangles. I’ve dominantly read YA books for years, and I’ve read about…three books/series with love triangles in. That’s it. You’re looking in the wrong place.

last words

Basically just this: How can reading ever be a bad thing?

People go on and on and on about encouraging people to read, especially younger people. So that’s happening, younger people are reading more now, more so that “Young Adult” is actually a genre now when a few years ago it didn’t exist. And yet now young people are reading, articles like this are in full bloom? What if someone wanted to read, but saw an article like that claiming it’s a bad thing, so they’re discouraged? How would that help with anything?

It’s simple really. If you don’t like the idea of YA books, then don’t read them.

I don’t like the thought of erotic books (the first that came to mind) so I just don’t read it. However I DON’T go around shaming people who do read it.

There’s absolutely no reason for people to claim others are reading the wrong thing. There is no “wrong thing” to read. If you don’t agree with it, then don’t read it. Leave it for people who do.



So there we have it!

One very long rant of a discussion post! 

I’ve seen discussions about this before and my comments always end up being the longest, and with the hint of this topic being brought up in last week’s discussion, it was about time I wrote my own version.

What did you think of this rant/discussion?

Do you agree with what I said or not?

Do you get defensive about YA books, or do you stay away from them for the same reasons as the articles say?

How would you reply to articles that suggest YA books are a bad influence?

Join the discussion in the comments!

Until next time…

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39 thoughts on “Let’s Talk…Slaying my way through YA judgers *cough* possibly a rant *cough*

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Sometimes I think some journalists just like to be snobs. It’s the same as a music critic dissing pop over opera, or a film critic dissing action movies over art films. Everyone has different tastes and you can’t please everyone all of the time. I think a lot more young people are reading now than ever before, and that can only be a good thing. As you said, we’ve always had books with young characters. Having the YA label has just made it easier for people to find books centred around a younger age group than having to trawl through thousands of books looking for something that interests them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you agree!
      It very true that you can’t please everyone. Different genres are for different people in ANY hobby/entertainment, it’s just a shame that there are people who discourage it so much. Like we’ve both said, more younger people are reading now so the more books, the better!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. YUP YUP YUP. Agree with all of this wholeheartedly. So sick of seeing derogatory pieces in the media about YA and YA readers. Like with ALL books, there are some bad and some good – you can’t tar a whole genre and a whole readership like that. Also I totally agree – readers of YA can handle dark/tough topics, and they should be exposed to them. It widens understanding of ‘taboo’ or difficult issues, and could help someone who is going through a really tough time. Like you say, if ya don’t like them, don’t read them! Simple. Great post! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you agree 😀
      It’s almost like being prejudice against a book genre – read a few and don’t like them? Oh well that MUST mean the entire genre is awful, right? Obviously not. Plus YA in itself has so many other genres, and yet it’s always contemporary that seems to be thrown out saying “look how bad this is” *shakes head* it’s all just a bit ridiculous!

      Like

  3. Okay so those articles made me mad. “the majority don’t struggle with these issues” actually quite a lot of people do, we just don’t all talk openly about mental illness because we know people won’t understand. So it’s great that there are so many books out there that deal with these issues, both so we can feel understood and for people who have the luck to not be affected to be better educated and be more accepting of mental illness. What even is the point of those articles??? But great discussion Ashleigh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      That’s EXACTLY what I thought! The way they worded it, they tried to make it sound like they understand some people go through tough times, but then they just sort of threw that under the bus by saying the majority don’t so it doesn’t really matter! Like you said, the majority actually do, since they said EVERY “gloomy” topic, so that covers…what? Mental illness, gender issues, relationship uncertainty, family problems…allsorts! I’m pretty sure that article in particular caused a lot of outrage in the YA community, and I completely understand why!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Let’s be honest, the majority struggles with at least one of those issues, be it mental illness, sexuality, gender issues and everything else you said plus more. These are issues that need to be talked about in books and tv shows so it reaches the people affected by them. These things are already sort of taboo in society so books, tv show, etc need to break the stigma around these issues. We YA readers aren’t going to read a book about depression and self harm and decide we are depressed and start self harming. That’s not how it works and I feel insulted that they think that if us. These books will help people who struggle with issues to not feel so alone and hopefully give them the strength to get better. Reading about with LGBTQIA characters and/or same sex romance (this this happens more often in tv shows) isn’t gonna make someone decide they’re not straight. It’s hopefully going to help them accept their sexuality and realize that it’s okay to love whoever you love, that love is not a crime. Honestly, books hold so much power to change lives, make lives better (especially YA I think because it reaches the people who might struggle more with these things) I just wish people would stop writing these stupid, pointless articles about things they don’t understand and stop tearing YA writers and readers down.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. PREACH 😀
          For the people who go through any struggles whatsoever, books are there to show that someone understands, to provide that comfort and give them hope that actually, most of the population will be OK with them. They’ll understand. And for the people who don’t go through specific struggles like mental illness, gender uncertainty etc, it’ll give them the chance to understand, and become a better person for those who do. I honestly think YA is one of the most diverse genres out there thanks to how widely it ranges, and how many genres are within YA (contemporary, fantasy, scifi and so on), it’ll reach so many people.
          It’s good to see so many people argue against these articles though, and truly stand up for the books they believe in!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. EXACTLY! That’s the beauty of YA honestly. And just one more thing that bothers the hell out of me in these articles, by saying “the majority don’t struggle with these issues so we don’t need as many books about them” they are oppressing even more those who do struggle. Those who already feel excluded by a society that doesn’t accept them and find their only comfort in books and tv shows.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m warning you ahead of time that this comment may not make sense because I’m so infuriated right now and I can’t seem to make coherent sentences at the moment.
    It looks like those people who write the articles just don’t have anything more to write about so they go find innocent things and talk about stupid shit about said things. I just don’t get the point. When people have their faces glued to phones, tablets and gadgets most of the time, they talk shit about technology. When people read books, they talk shit about that too.
    Also, can we talk about how those articles claim that all YA books influence young adults into believing unrealistic situations? There’s a reason why books are labeled fiction, suckers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES EXACTLY!
      It just seems now that no matter what we do, people will happily complain and say we’re living life wrong. That we’re all going to be damaged by what we do. Ugh, it’s so frustrating!
      And exactly like you said, it’s labelled FICTION. I’m pretty sure everyone who will be reading YA books will know what the word “fiction” means *rolls eyes*

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An epitome of generalization.
    Yes, we DO want more diversity, now. We want books that delve into darker themes, especially when people who have that experience tell us it’s an accurate portrayal – that means we’ve LEARNED something. We have connected and broadened our minds to something we may not understand. “The majority of us don’t struggle?” What about the ones that DO and want people to understand a little better instead of brushing it off? Doesn’t matter if they’re a minority – they’re human. And people may struggle with it to different degrees and don’t share it with the world.
    And just because it isn’t written in large-word-fluff doesn’t mean it’s not educational in any way. Besides, honestly some people just want to escape the real world. Is that not allowed? Can we not have fun hobbies? Why you gotta bash fun books, of all things?
    Gods, and we are NOT that gullible. Most of us know that those romances are pretty unrealistic, whether it’s a triangle or not. But we enjoy it BECAUSE of that romantic feeling we get with these characters we connect with. It’s unrealistic, but it can be so beautiful.
    Books are an art form!
    And don’t get me started on that whole “YA fantasy is unrealistic” shiznit. ????? THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED FANTASY. Wha?
    My word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh I loved this comment haha!
      The article complaining about the “gloominess” of YA books was saying that they wanted something fun for their son to read, and I was just like ???? reading is fun anyway, no matter the topic and let your son choose his own books, dammit. He’s not complained about them. How can they judge what’s fun for other people to read?
      Like you said, we know what’s realistic and what’s not.
      And I could’ve made a whole new topic about the “fantasy is unrealistic” claim because OF COURSE IS ISN’T. It would be a pretty crap fantasy book if only real things happened. The literal definition of fantasy is “imagining impossible or improbable things” 😆 I just keep switching between wanting to rage and laugh *facepalm*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, oh, my goodness. And if they try to control what their son reads, he’ll probably just grow to be more defiant. Same idea goes to the whole society! Psychologists have done studies like that showing that the more restrictions on something, the more people are likely to want to break the “rules”. And if we try to keep “taboo” topics away from young readers, they won’t have a chance to learn something in a way they enjoy, a safe way, and they may just lash out more. Keep it fun!! Don’t judge.
        Hahaha, yes, rage or laugh was the big question for me, too xD It was such a silly statement, but they were serious?? Ugh.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so mad about these articles, not only is everything 100% offensive to everyone who chooses to read YA, but also, I could easily see these reporters writing a follow up article in a couple months bitching about how teenagers don’t read. That article opened up a huge double standard opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, it’s ridiculous! Like I mentioned in the post, they were just what came up when I googled YA articles, and I’d never even seen them before today, so all the ones I’ve seen before are just added to this. And yet you’ll find just as many articles about how young people are always on their phones and should read more. It’s like they can’t decide what they believe.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Those articles really have annoyed me, as soon as I clicked them I was like ‘definitely going to be ‘Daily Mail’. The article about dark matters just seemed to be the writer spewing hate for YA because she loves classics. She mentions her love for Jane Austen then goes on to talk about the top number one book featuring body dismorphia. I didn’t understand why she then included figures and said like ‘the rest of the 99% of us don’t have these feelings?’ She seemed to back track on herself saying of course if this helps someone its wonderful, well just because something doesn’t effect every single person in the world doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be wrote or read about.
    You stop putting diversity in YA and different situations then she would moan that everything was a fairytale and life wasn’t a pretty picture painted like that.

    The other article was just as annoying it seems some journalists don’t think children should read books with the truth in them, they should be hidden from everything, one article says ‘parents must be vigilante and see what their child is reading’, I wonder if they then monitor the news they watch, the songs they listen to or the websites they visit.

    YA books that feature such subject matter teaches those who read it valuable lessons in life, sure they can make you cry if a character dies or has an illness but you know what they also do? Motivate you because you can also compare your life to that character and see ‘wow I am lucky’ or if a character made a bad mistake or is even a good role model, we can see what we don’t or do want to be like!

    I apologise if my thoughts are abit haywire here! I got excited about the topic haha!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t apologise, I loved reading your comment!
      When I was searching for example articles to link in the post I knew myself the most problematic ones would be Daily Mail. They’re the ones I always see.
      I completely agree with you. If there wasn’t diversity, they’d be complaining about that instead. There’s no inbetween. The more diversity is mentioned, the better, and diverseness will gradually become more and more accepted over each generation. The amount of books talking about issues and differences should be praised, not discouraged.
      And again, I agree with what you said about the other article! As I was reading it I was thinking “but why are you choosing what your child reads?” I understand that when they’re young, then yes maybe check the blurb or something, but when it gets to YA stage there’s really no need.
      Books are influential, yes, but in the way you said – characters can be role models, and the events can either make the reader think “I want to be like that!” or “Yeah I’ll not do that myself, that was a stupid idea”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My laptop has been hating me so sorry it’s taken me a while to read and get back to this haha! I agree completely, it definitely seems more bashing than news. It also makes me think of when books were very censored and some books are still banned even Harry Potter is banned in some countries, articles should be celebrating diversity and ‘dark subject matter’ for it’s honesty not bashing it or hiding away. Like you said if you read the blurb and understand what the book features and know its not for you or something you don’t want your young child reading then simply don’t pick it up or don’t let them pick it up!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know! If everything was censored like they used to be, we’d end up just going back to classics and discussing how “shocking” they are. I always see banned book lists and it never fails to surprise me some of the books that are on there!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Harry Potter for one is banned in some countries haha! I once watched a poetry group on Youtube which was called ‘Somewhere in America’ and they had a couple of lines dedicated to how a book was banned for the use of the ‘n’ word but the kkk website was available and about guns etc. Not entirely linked to this but it just reminded me of it, if you haven’t seen it before then I would definitely check it out. The 3 girls also performed it on the Queen Latifah show and at a John Legend concert.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. At this point I’m basically convinced that journalists have realized articles about how horrible YA is are just great click bait. I mean, YA is so popular you just know you’re writing something controversial that people will flock to. The “YA is all dark” is a new argument to me, though. At least the writers are getting more up to date. Most of the articles I’ve seen bashing YA are still talking about Twilight and The Hunger Games as if nothing has been published since then. But “YA is dark” really misses the point that SOME YA is dark and some is not. There’s, you know, variety in books. They can read whatever type they want.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, I just read the second article you linked to, and it’s ridiculous: “I was reading Jane Austen at 13! How can my son be given We Were Liars?” Apparently the author missed the memo that she was not born in the 1700s, and Jane Austen was not the wholesome YA fiction of her day. It was a classic, which she chose to read. Her son can also read classics. Problem solved. And, completely ignoring her argument that apparently ALL literature should be escapism, she’s missing the point that not ALL classics are escapists. She throws in Lord of the Flies as if she’s thought of this, but she hasn’t. Jane Austen is not representative of classic literature and is, in fact, mocked as fluff by the kind of people who are snobby not just about reading classic but about WHICH classics they read. I can give her a very, very long list of “dark” classics. This person just sounds like she has no idea what’s talking about.

      As for the, “my school recommended dark books for summer reading” thing, that’s an ongoing problem. The writer was apparently hoping for “summer beach reads” but that’s not what you’re going to get from a school reading list. Our society has almost always had the problem of thinking that darker books are “more artistic” or of more literary value than happier ones. I think that’s silly, but it’s still a very prominent bias. Try submitting a story to a college literary magazine. If you write about suicide, you’re accepted. If you write about frolicking cats and true love, you’re not. But the writer has to realize this is a bias academia has always had. And realize that the librarian’s list is not the end of her YA options.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It just makes me laugh how she acted like all classics are fluffy romances or adventures when a lot of classics – especially the one’s she mentioned, are actually gothic literature and are the definition of being “dark” 😆 The YA books mentioned are more realistic, not “dark”, and just because they’re not written in a really wordy way like most classics are, doesn’t mean they’re worth less.
        It really bothers me how every article only focuses on contemporaries that tackle serious issues. There’s more genres than that if you want something fun or lighthearted. There’s even more in the contemporary genre if they just looked at the fluffy romances they apparently love so much in classics!

        Like

    2. Definitely – you can tell these articles are mainly written just to gain more views or to seem up to date with what teenagers/you people are doing lately.
      Like you said though, there’s variety in books, and literally every single article I’ve seen so far has been focused on contemporaries. And not just that, but the contemporaries that feature somewhat serious topics rather than cute fluffy romances. So of course the genre is going to seem “dark” if you just focus on the serious stuff rather than branch out!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m happy to see journalists have moved on from thinking YA=Twilight, but this writer seems as if she based her entire opinion on a reading list from one school librarian. So, based on roughly 20 books, which were apparently selected by one person, she thinks she knows the entire YA market? What she really knows is what one librarian has decided is either “hot” right now or “worth reading as a school assignment,” which generally leads people to pick contemporary books that are “dark,” It’s why school kids are always being given Thirteen Reasons Why and such books. It may also result from the stigma against assigning non-classics for schoolwork. Some parents have a hard enough time with the fact the teachers are not forcing their kids to read Shakespeare and Tolstoy. You have to balance that out by saying, “But I’m assigning a newer book about complex issues that really speaks to teens.” It’s a hard sell to be like “Well, I think this fantasy is fun. And Sarah Dessen is cute. We’re reading those in school now.”

        So much yes about Jane Austen! She’s great! But her books just do not represent classics as a whole! The early 20th century saw a lot of classic books dedicated to explaining why man is really a beast at heart and it’s impossible to live a moral life and we’re all doomed to de-evolved back into our bestial state. Or we have books like Brave New World and 1984, where humans live in a dystopian they brought upon themselves and cannot escape. Or, yes Gothic literature with all its murder and gloom and evil monks. These are all such charming, lighthearted books that will keep us from thinking about topics that are too depressing, right???

        All this mother had to do was ask someone who knows more about YA what some lighter reads would be. I bet even the librarian who made the “dark” list would know, since she apparently purposely culled anything “fun” off the list.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly! If the books were chosen from a school in the first place, then it’s pretty obvious that the books are going to mention a lot of topics that can be asked questions about and learnt from. More and more, people are actively becoming more open-minded and diverse, so it’s only expected that schools will assign books that help avoid stigma and teach their students more about these “taboo” subjects – which haven’t actually been taboo for a very long time.
          I’ve got nothing against classics. I’m trying to read more of them myself. But like every book I read, it’s my choice. I can decide for myself what’s interesting to me. So for this one person to claim none of us should read these books because they’re a bad influence…just no. No thank you.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes yes yes! This post highlighted everything I want to say to people who think YA is bad and shouldn’t be read. Sure, sometimes some books sugarcoat serious topics, but YA also teaches us lessons and let’s us live many lives. Plus, we YA readers aren’t stupid. Just because a character went out and slayed some dragons doesn’t mean we are going to immediately go out and try to do the same. YA books enable us to be creative and imagine the impossible.

    People shouldn’t judge all YA readers based on stereotypes. Sure, the “typical” teen is moody and dark. However, most of us aren’t like that. The world has been blowing up about not judging people based on stereotypes, so why start now?

    I don’t know why people would discourage people not to read. They said themselves that reading enhances the mind… Kind of contradicting if you ask me.

    Anyway, I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it 😀
      I’m sure every articles that bashes YA books is just full of contradictions, really. They say we should read more but then disagree with our reading choices. They say that we’re easily influenced, but then write negative articles like that to discourage us rather than use our “easily influenced” minds as an advantage to write positive posts about reading instead. They claim that books with serious topics are a negative influence rather than educational, and then suggest the classics full of dramatic romances will help us through our lives. They claim all YA books are “dark” and then recommend gothic classics. Everything is just one HUGE contradiction!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I completelty agree with you! I’ve read all of my life, and over the last few years I’ve read more YA that has themes such as suicide/mental illness. My mum would read that back of my books and say that they’re “innapropriate”, will put “ideas in my head” and ask why I want to read about such depressing stuff. I’m 19. It’s my choice and, in my opinion, it’s important to read about the more difficult topics. By reading about mental illness etc we can learn more about it, and hopefully talk about it more openly. I do, however, think that maybe some books may be too graphic/intense for the younger YA readers (ie 12/13 year olds).

    Liked by 1 person

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