Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WTH is YA?

To answer the above question, YA changes with the times.

In past decades, the definition of YA was The Catcher in the Rye, Bambi, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Oliver Twist. Seriously, can you imagine kids reading one of the above on their own without a school report looming? Well maybe Mockingbird but what about the rest.

Animal stories dominated the shelves as well as what is now labeled literary classics.

Black Beauty, Irish Red, Misty of Chincoteague.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Stories about teenage drug dependences, graphic violence, and death almost non-existent.

Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, The Call of the Wild, The Black Stallion, Little House in the Big Woods.

But the kids grew into adults and wanted more. They pushed the envelope on youth oriented material. And their audience responded.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Diary of Anne Frank, My Brother Sam is Dead.

YA became less a genre than a category, a cacophony of different voices covering social issues, literary, and sci-fi and horror.

The Babysitter, Vampire Academy, The Lord of the Rings.

New sub-categories burst onto the scene with names like steampunk and dystopia that had to be Googled.

Clockwork Angel, The Hunger Games, Hush Hush, The Hunger Games, Twilight.

Aside from any morality issues of teens exposed to TMI at an early age, some of today’s books make me feel like a cat stroked backwards. Annoyed.

Many of the books are carbon copies. I’m not talking about subject or content but prose. First person, smart alec girl with a past who is kick ass at – fill in the blank here. All of them talk the same with the similar vocabulary. Blech.

My pet peeve, my problem, I reckon. I hate to see so-called ‘recipe’ type books. But writers read a book, like it, and want to see more. Or (heaven help us) see a profitable trend and want to cash in.

The YA bookshelves are wide-open for any genre, full of promise and mayhem. But golly people, give the Rose/Clary/Nora/Grace/Katniss spin offs a rest. We liked them as a trickle. The flood? Eh, not so much.

Whadda you think?


  1. I think you're right, but I also know publishers tend to jump on trends, which leads to people writing more of that style, which leads to the flood.

    But don't stop writing what you love! And thanks for this brief history lesson~ :o)

  2. I think there's a definite trend with 'paranormal.'

  3. totally agree. i wanted a different greatness to follow hunger games, heard raves about divergent and it started out eerily similar. underestimated girl with undefined talent taking on and impressing the guys in a deranged dystopian future that needs to be changed. eh.

    bandwagon is full =)

  4. Thought provoking and so true! Now I want to sit with this and feel where it takes me! Thank you! The original thinkers will rise above the masses...just as they always have.:)

  5. What an awesome timeline!

    I think Leigh was right. Pubs play a big factor in saturating the market w/knock off themes. It's funny, but when I read a book I like, it doesn't make me want to write one like it. It makes me want to take it in a whole new direction.

    I remember those Misty books! I LOVED them. And black beauty, too. I was a horse fanatic. lol


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