10 Reasons Y I Rarely Read YA

10 – No time to read anything, period–too busy trying to stave off senility.
9 – Tired of reading about teens who turn out to be The Chosen One. (One time, just one time, why couldn’t The Chosen One be some tired single parent with four kids, just trying to catch a break.)
8 – Turning 40 soon and can’t identify with anyone who has good knees and all their teeth.
7 – Sad that my own closet or window or kitchen sink doesn’t open onto a glorious fantasy land, and can’t stand to read about people who do have that amenity, especially when they’re too damn young to appreciate it.
6 – Don’t hang around teenagers in real life; why would I want to in my leisure time?
5 – Hate to read about people who can’t bench press their own weight, don’t have kids, don’t have thousands of dollars of credit card debt, and probably have never been to prison yet have tattoos.
4 – Sick of hearing I should read more YA from YA writers who are already richer than God.
3 – Don’t want to encourage a genre that promotes self-determination for hormone-and-drug-crazed monkeys who only really become human beings when they turn twenty-five.
2 – Never read YA even when I was YA.
1 – Reading more of it would make it impossible for me to have my own original ideas when I write my own YA novel for the bestseller lists.

22 comments on “10 Reasons Y I Rarely Read YA

  1. kellys says:

    I’d like to see a revolt against YA as a genre. This is a nice start!

  2. I am, of course, being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but at this point it is so ubiquitous that I do find it somewhat ridiculous.

  3. Ha, I agree with pretty much everything you say here, so you can imagine my reaction when I was recently assigned a YA novel to review; “Summer of the Apocalypse” by James Van Pelt. It turned out to be quite good, especially since it doesn’t fit into any of your categories, and it’s not fantasy. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel set in Colorado that reads a bit like a cross between Stephen Vincent Benet’s “By the Waters of Babylon” and George Stewart’s “Earth Abides”,

    Also, your reason #3 couldn’t help but make me think of Paul Kelly’s observation in “Nothing On My Mind’;

    “There was a man on the radio today talking about the young people,
    Said we shgould listen to the young people,
    Said they’re victim of conspiracy.
    The young people, Jesus! What’s that supposed to mean?
    I never did one damn good thing until I was over thirty.”

  4. I’m just having a laugh–and poking fun more at the category itself. Because, like Greg says, you’ll always find something good in every category out there. But it is true I prefer to read about adults in adult situations.
    jv

  5. Lax Tool says:

    So, no chance for a YA Ambergris novel/story any time soon? Maybe one where an adolescent comes to find out that he/she is the Chosen One, then learns that he/she has been “chosen” by the Gray Caps for their next sacrifice? (Or is my sadism getting carried away here?)

  6. Matt Staggs says:

    Oh, yeah – how about “The Adventures of Young Duncan Shriek”. ;)

  7. “3 – Don’t want to encourage a genre that promotes self-determination for hormone-and-drug-crazed monkeys who only really become human beings when they turn twenty-five.”

    Ba-baaaaow. Wrong. I’m twenty-six, and I’m still a monkey.

  8. You, Tessa, are the elegant exception.

  9. Well, hanging from your toes and flinging fecal matter around to mark your territory, they’re hard habits to break.

  10. Michael Levy says:

    Jeff,

    Try something by David Almond–Skellig or Heaven Eyes. They might change your mind about YA.

    Mike Levy

  11. Mike:

    YA’s a spotlight across a wide range of stuff. I’m not dissing the stuff.

    JV

  12. #2 made me laugh. So true. And I know you’re not looking for people to point out exceptions, or what they view as exceptions, but some of Margo Lanagan’s short fiction is drop-dead gorgeous. Not sure why her publishers class her as YA, though, honestly ..

  13. I think of YA as a roving spotlight that is used as a marketing tool, especially in the wake of Harry Potter. There’s nothing wrong with that, but nothing that says it isn’t ripe to be sent up, either.

    I like Margo’s work, too. I think they think she’ll sell more as YA.

    JV

  14. Tony Lee says:

    Not sure if YA books existed when I was a kid. If they did, I didn’t see them in shops or school libraries.
    Went straight from reading Enid Blyton to Arthur C. Clarke.
    ;D

    If there’s one good thing to say about so-called YA books (I almost typed ‘YA-lit’, bit does it really count as literature?), then perhaps it’s simply… anything that gets teenagers reading must be a positive influence… especially if it helps them upgrade from being just ignorant sacks of hormones prone to yobbish behaviour. (Excuse rant from a cynical 46-year-old.)

  15. Matt Staggs says:

    Sadly, in the case of the Harry Potter books, this hasn’t generalized to increased reading among young people:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/07/15/MNGN7R0Q1N1.DTL

  16. Vanessa says:

    I am convinced that not only is it a requirement to have a “chosen one” in YA fiction, but that is it also a requirement that contemporary YA books be predominantly about a centuries long battle between vampires and werewolves.

    I keep telling myself that I was never a teenager.

  17. Matt Staggs says:

    Stories about being the “chosen one” is a good way to reinforce that teenage narcissism. They know their audience.

  18. Yeah, although you can go too far in the opposite direction. Mieville, in his YA novel, tries so hard to dissect and disembowel that idea that it makes the novel unbalanced.
    JV

  19. Matt Staggs says:

    I’ve really tried to get into Mieville, but Perdido Street Station didn’t do anything for me and I’ve not tried anything else since then. Should I give him another try? I own a copy of King Rat.
    Any suggestions?

  20. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I’ve seen some crazy responses to this post across the internet. If you have something invested in YA and were insulted, I say: Get a sense of humor. If you came across this post and you thought it was a rant: Get a sense of humor. Those who cannot laugh at themselves (I wrote YA and children’s for an educational website for years, and have published short fiction aimed at kids) are doomed to…well, to not being a lot of fun!

    JeffV

  21. sdn says:

    hi, jeff! GUESS WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING

    hee.

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