Kill That Noise – Leave YA Alone
Hey nerds, today I’m going to lay some shit down because I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with a certain something: posts disparaging young adult fiction.
Whether it’s a boring dad-dude telling us how uncomplicated our stories are or posts on how easy it is to write/make money off young adult books- the think pieces taking a crap all over YA need to do one more thing: stop-for-fucking-ever.
The New York Times posted an article calling some YA “paranormal lunacy,” and while that might’ve made a cool new wave band name, it actually sets my face on fire with how insensitive it is.
The article mentions some kick ass books that I’m super excited about but you know the thing where you shouldn’t put something down as a way to celebrate another? The whole, “She’s special, not like other girls” thing? Yeah the people who keep writing these posts don’t know how to say, “this is good,” without also saying, “this other thing though? It’s actually diarrhea.” They also don’t know that the “not like the other girls” trope is bad and we all make fun of it. Most likely because they don’t actually read the kinds of books they’re bashing.
A NYT piece glossing over an entire genre (SFF) as wacky and not worthy of being taken seriously, is akin to getting super pissed off about a satire article because you didn’t scroll to the end, then sharing it on Facebook. I know you only read the headline, you useless paperclip, and now your Aunt Helen does too. Be ashamed.
It’s time for people who write think pieces to actually think for two minutes, maybe three, before insulting an entire community of hardworking writers. Many of whom are trying to break into an industry where we are historically and overwhelmingly underrepresented. Otherwise, your article is less of a think piece and more of a piece of something else. And frankly, we’re tired of everyone’s shit.
Interview librarians, booksellers, I don’t know perhaps YA authors who celebrate rather than bash their peers. Authors who actually read YA and didn’t crop up just to tell the rest of us how badly we’re doing it.
This is not against any of the authors in The New York Times and the important issues they’re tackling head on. I support them. But I don’t support the assumption that genre fiction is not also capable of carrying that weight. It ignores books like SHADOWSHAPER (which talks about gentrification and self-image among many other things) THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE (mental health issues) and yes even thought it’s not fantasy, HUNGER GAMES ( because if kids killing one another to survive in a dictatorship is not gritty, I don’t know what is.) It ignores these books in favor of the regurgitated, “Wasn’t Twilight terrible?” argument we’ve been hearing since K-Stew sighed her way through all five movies. And these are just three of many, many examples. All lumped under one label that fails to recognize their depth, their complexity, their worth.
And always with the Twilight bashing. It’s such an easy/predictable target at this point. Not only are you clueless about YA bu you’re also unoriginal. Pick a struggle. (Also you probably read and loved Twilight you lying piece of stale potato bread.)
A more interesting approach would’ve been how the current sociopolitical climate in our world is informing some of the books that are being published. How great it is that YA writers are helping kids understand movements like Black Lives Matter. Or that writers of color are being published and doing amazing work. No where in any of those scenarios do other writers (of an entire genre) need to be insulted.
But of all the crappy, misinformed parts of articles like these, the part that’s really the rocket up the ass, is how they disrespect YA’s intended audience. Yeah, remember teens? They’re reading those pieces too, desperate for info on their most anticipated releases and in the process being told the other books they love are garbage juice. Or the teen writer who just mustered the courage to write that paranormal novel and is now too embarrassed to keep going. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but teens kind of love that stuff you call “lunacy.” Way to go you spam-email -of -a-human. Your Aunt Helen might think your post was no big deal, but it matters to us. It hurts writers. It annoys us and angers us and we have to read a new article about how clueless/useless/shallow we are every other week. So to sum it up, I respectfully and not so respectfully disagree AF with everyone who dismisses all the wonderful layers contained within YA books. You can fight me, Aunt Helen.