Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Dark Reality of YA Fiction

DARKNESS TOO VISIBLE (from the Wall Street Journal)

"How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

"Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it..."

I was going to comment. But, frankly, I think I need time to absorb it.

Full article



Dawrei said...


I’m new to the whole blogger-thing, and I was looking for blogs related to writing since I want my own blog to be about (the writing of) YA fiction. That aside; yes, I have some thoughts.

First of all, I was a bit baffled that the mother couldn’t find anything besides “vampires, suicide and self-mutilation”…There are as many different YA books out there as there are teenagers to read them, so she might have tried a different bookshelf.

I guess it is true that YA fiction is occasionally dark, but not necessarily violent. Harry Potter is increasingly dark, but there’s not much explicit violence. Young Adult books are often mirroring our own harsh world – and who knows where we are headed? It’s no coincidence that the post-apocalyptic/dystopian themes are increasing in popularity (like the “hyper-violent” The Hunger Games – those books really weren’t so much about the violence as much as they addressed the dangers of a Stalinistic regime). I read another article not too long ago, where the author of the YA novel Ship Breaker comments that “Unfortunately, the truth of the world around us is changing, and so the literature is morphing to reflect it. Teens want to read something that isn't a lie; we adults wish we could put our heads under the blankets and hide from the scary story we're writing for our kids.” ( )

Jeannine Garsee said...

Thank you for your input. I was surprised to see a comment because most (um...all?) of my readers are over at Livejournal. It's wonderful to get a comment over here for a change. Good luck with your bog! I'll be stopping by.