i'm just here to talk about YA

I'm just here to talk-- not to start any fights on this or to get attention. You know. Sometimes you just need to talk about something and get it out. (I've been wanting to talk about this for a while)

I say this because there are a ton of issues. Yes, I am the girl who reads mostly/all YA and it makes up a giant part of what I consume as a reader.
But quite frankly-- I'm tired of it. I'm not tired of the section in itself. YA books are important to their audience. Teen needs stories that will give them hope, and light to follow, and power. They should be inspiring. Inspiring in a good way to do good things.

I feel like most YA books instead are causing teens to focus on their emotions and their dreams and how they can save the post-apocalyptic world from disease stricken zombies. It's not sacrificial..... it's not what we should aspire to be as a person. I don't know.

I love YA but I'm here to talk about some issues I see.

#diversity isn't working with me. Now now now guys. Don't stop here and assume things. Just listen for a moment. I'm not here saying that diversity in books isn't important because it is. Different races, countries, views, etc are super super good to have. But--  from what I've seen with all this, it seems like all this diversity being put into books/stories is included because that's what is being demanded.

It's no longer about quality or the message but "hello is this book providing enough diverse characters who have differing qualities whether physical, emotional, or political to satisfy the audience?" The demand for diversity seems to cause the author to have the themes and quality as a side thing.

As a writer of YA let me tell you now I DON'T WRITE BOOKS BASED ON WHAT PEOPLE WANT, LIKE, OR DEMAND. Other writers shouldn't base their plot on what the YA bookworms want.
If I did that, I never would have written The Sand Song because I pitched it and guess what-- dystopia wasn't popular at the time (and still isn't the biggest and best) so they didn't want it. They rejected it. (it was also a first draft mess but that is beside the point)

If everyone wrote what people wanted it would be a mess. Diversity doesn't need to be put in so the diverse groups of the world are satisfied. If someone isn't writing the book you want to read the right way, then guys go write the book yourself. If you feel led to put that certain trait in go for it. But I don't think it should be forced in.

Creative minds should express what's within the original idea and not what people are inserting/demanding/or complaining about.

Yeah, there are people including diversity in their books because they want to and it works/fits. But to me, it's mostly this invisible checklist that God forbid if you have all white characters everything is ruined and suddenly it's not inclusive and man. I hate that checklist.
 This agenda that has to be followed. (and when the agenda is going against the Bible and what I believe I hate that too. One example is the new Beauty and the Beast but I don't want to argue/talk about that right now.)

Let me clear this up again just so I'm clear you know? That was a strange sentence but whatever. I'm all for diversity with race and politics and not just having the typical characters but I hate the checklist and the way it lowers the quality and themes in books.

The characters. The chosen one protagonist who has these special qualities. The cute/somewhat bookish/also hipster boy who's hormone driven and super selfish. The sixteen-year-old girl who's going to dominate the rebel group and lead them to some victory while agonizing over two guys (usually blonde hair blue eyes and the Mr. tall dark and handsome with the voice that can melt chocolate what even). There's the bad boy with tattoos going everywhere with that 'innocent' smile who everyone is drawn to because of the gray morality and all that junk.

YA books glorify bad behavior, drinking, smoking, sex, and curse words for no reason. There is no reason to glorify those things.
It's not cool. There are consequences.

And what you read affects you. So if all these teens are picking up these books saturated with bad content that doesn't make them want to do better and actually achieve something higher than the world's standards why are they there? Entertainment? To read out of boredom? (Yes books are for entertainment but we should be reading stuff that actually means something. Not pointless words to fill our heads.)

I look up to characters. I'm sure every other book reader does too. But what do we do when we are given characters that aren't good role models? Those gritty ones that make us cringe when we read that scene or even the whole book.

People want teens to do better and rise higher than the stereotypical young adult-- but how can they do that when they are being fed this junk?

(I'm not answering these now cause they are whole blog posts in themselves. Maybe another time. They're just there for me to think. You to think.)

[renner is how i feel about YA sometimes] 
Teens are being underestimated and not called to a higher standard of living. All the books I see aren't about being a hero, stepping up to what's right even if you're the only one, of even giving of yourself. 
It's not about helping others and sacrifice-- it's all do what I want to do and let me follow my feelings and hey let's see how that works out and there might be consequences but at least I lived in the moment and had some fun. 

We say YA is important for teens but I don't see a whole ton of effort being put into the book's authors produce to empower them to do better. I just wanted to get some of these thoughts out 1) because we need to consider this stuff and really think about it and 2) thinking about this inspires me to write good stuff.

I write good stuff already (good as in clean and not glorifying darkness etc etc etc not patting myself on the back). But this reminds me that we need more of it.

YA book shelves probably won't change anytime soon. But we can change the shelves (in a roundabout way) with what we write as writers and as readers, with what we choose to consume. We don't need to read the junk out there. We don't need to read the stuff that makes us feel not motivated to do anything good for the world. 

And there are books out there that are good with good messages and good characters.
For example Neal Shusterman. (yes yes yes I have talked about Shusterman so many times and I love his books.) I actually got the meet him and it was amazing. 

 He writes amazing books. Amazing. I've said amazing so many times but I don't know how to talk about his books without being so very happy ah.
They don't have teens that are considered stupid and unable to achieve anything. Unwind tackles the issue of abortion and these teenagers who are fighting for what they believe in do it without being disrespected and degraded. And they don't fight for what they believe in because they want to get attention.
Connor and Risa and Lev and all the others fight because they believe in something and recognize the need to act on it. They sacrifice themselves for others. They are heroes. They rise above their wants. They rise above their expectations and labels and do something for the big picture.
It's not: sit back, make out, and wait for the world to crumble. Someday I'll do a while post dedicated to his books because I need to talk about them allllllllll.

And there are other ones like Lemony Snicket. I didn't grow up with his series and books but after reading them last year it made me so so so happy. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Ordinary kids doing extraordinary things without the extra fluff and oh wait chosen one. It showed that life is hard sometimes. For some people all the time. You've got to hang on to what you believe and fight even when it's hard.

[this is true. and there's always that hope is brought in]
I guess the whole point of this was to say this: YA isn't bad. I love a lot of the books and ah if you can't find me in the bookstore, look for me in the YA section. I still read it. I still love a lot of it. ( I hope this makes sense?)
But there are issues with it. There are issues with middle-grade books, adult fiction, Christian fiction. Every place has their issues. But the problem is, the issues in YA are influencing the mindset and behavior of a lot of the readers. Especially non-Christians who consume it.

I don't think YA will change. There'll be more and more and more junk added. It will always glorify young wild and free go live it up. But we don't have to contribute or consume the junk out there.

I could talk for a whole lot longer-- but I'll stop now. It's just some (really long) rambles.



what are some of your favorite YA books and why? (tell me all. any recommendations?)







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15 comments

  1. I've been thinking of writing a post on this for a while now...but you just did it for me! This post is everything I've wanted to say about YA fiction. I love it but it just MISSES EVERYTHING. Teen years are about "finding yourself", but how are we going to find who we are in Christ if we are fed trash? And many non-Christians get their morals from the entertainment they consume. Why are they being taught that drugs/profanity/you name it is cool? Basically what I'm trying to say is: We need to make a difference in YA.

    Some amazing YA books: Out of Time Trilogy by our amazing Ninja Leader, Nadine Brandes. Unblemished by Sarah Ella. Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Any of Jill Williamson's books (they tackle some real teen issues, but don't glorify sin in any way). Those are all of the ones I can think of for now, but I'm sure there are others!

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    1. YES YES (you still wrote it if you want to I want to hear others on this too)
      Yes to all of that. Like hello wake up everyone. We only see a couple books that fit the 'good' and high standards we have on the shelves.

      YES OUT OF TIME MY FAVORITES EVERRRRRRRR. Our ninja leader is the best.
      I haven't read Takes of Goldstone Wood...... I obviously need them xD

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  2. I love this all. Especially the comment about the rebel leader girl + love triangle. Because seriously, 1: not sure how realistic that is... and 2: TOO MANY LOVE TRIANGLES I NOW HATE LOVE TRIANGLES like NOT AGAIN. (And how many rebellions would actually let a teenage girl lead them? How about someone with actual experience?? EVERY YA DYSTOPIAN EVER: "oh nah she's the chosen one they'll all follow her to the death." And it is to the death, because NO EXPERIENCE.)

    I think YA needs books where the MC isn't the leader or some great famous person, but serves? Works for what they believe in, without the glory of being in charge and beloved by all? Service and sacrifice (instead of sordidity and sex, ugh nope).

    And I haven't read any Neal Shusterman, but I'll have to try to get hold of some. :)

    Thanks for the post, Hannah!

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    1. yessssssss. LOVE TRIANGLES DRIVE ME NUTS LIKE MOST OF THE TIME. I didn't like the Matched trilogy because of the love triangle and hello lets do something new.

      yes serving instead of leading.

      YOU MUST READ ALL THE SHUSTERMAN ALWAYS.

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  3. Definitely hit the nail on the head, Hannah. Good job. There are definitely a lot of YA tropes and some of them are just SO bad. Ugh.

    I have been interested in reading A Series of Unfortunate Events since I was like, nine years old - so ten years. Wow, that really puts my procrastination into perspective...I need to get on that.

    Some of my favorite YA books are The Book Thief, The Ascendance Trilogy, Coraline and Ender's Game. I absolutely and highly recommend all of those - AH-MAY-ZING. There are many I like despite suffering from heavy trope use (such as The Hunger Games and Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars) but it's nice when you get something new and refreshing in the genre.

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    1. Thank you. :') So many tropes and they can be good/okay if they aren;t overused or abused.

      Have you seen the show? Yes you have to read them. So funny.

      The book thief was really good. Ender games yes yes. Yeah. I love finding new things with /new/ tropes? I guess nothing's really new though.

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  4. I AGREE WITH SO MANY THINGS IN THIS . . . love triangles + glorifying sex and wild behavior and recklessness -- like, waht?

    and YES PLEASE WRITE A POST ABOUT NEAL'S BOOKS. I just read Challenger Deep last week and I think everyone I know is tired of me following them around and telling them about it all BUT I CAN'T HELP IT AHH. It's so haunting and beautiful and confusing and heartbreakingly raw and real and just -- person reading this comment, go find it and read it. And while you're at it, read the rest of his books too. There. XD

    (this was a very weird and flail-y comment but oh well)

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    1. YES YES YES. All this junk and put aside the fact that it degrades the story, I don't want to read that junk.

      OMG YESSSSS CHALLENGER DEEP WAS SO GOOD LIKE WHAT EVEN YES. OKAY. I will soon. maybe after camp and stuff.

      (mine was too) xD

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  5. YOU LIKE SUMMED ME FEELINGS UP IN ONE POST.

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  6. Whoah whoah whoah this post is amazing. Your writing style, first of all- I love it. Also, I agree %100 percent. "usually blonde hair blue eyes and the Mr. tall dark and handsome with the voice that can melt chocolate what even"... Yes. Please, give us some new types of characters!
    Two of my favorite YA books that I've read recently are "An Ember in the Ashes" and its sequel, "A Torch Against the Night" (there are going to be more books in the series as well!). The plot is well thought-out, it's original, and the main characters all have very unique personalities/stories. You've still got a love triangle (go figure), but it's a guy and two girls this time... so a *little* different, at least.
    I absolutely love your blog and will shortly be pressing that "follow" button... I want to check out the books you've written, too! I just self-published my first novel last Summer.
    Have a great day!
    -Anna
    www.lethologicablog.weebly.com

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    1. THANK YOUUUUU. Aw :')
      I haven't read those yet but I'll have to check them out. I'm always looking for more books. xD
      Woah that's cool. reverse love triangle sort of.

      awwww thank you again. You are so sweet. (Oh that page is a work in progress but I do have a post on my latest work somewhere around the march area)

      THAT IS SO COOL. I am totally stalking you rn.

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  7. Yup yup yup. 100% agree with all of this.

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

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  8. Have you read the Blades of Aktar series by Tricia Mingerink? Medieval kingdom on the prairies, persecuted Christians, assassins. I love those books. So encouraging and uplifting. Death is not to be feared.

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  9. Thank you for this. Thank you thank you thank you. I am sick of #diversity and and pathetic characters and crappy lifestyles being glorified. I can't bring myself to read so much of YA anymore just because there's so much trash. You put it perfectly.

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