In the last couple of months, I can think of at least four articles/posts that came out on the Internet and criticized some aspect of young adult novels. Unsurprisingly, these posts stirred up quite a flurry of responses, some more so than others. If you're not up on your latest Internet kerfuffles, here's a handy rundown:
"Darkness Too Visible" in The Wall Street Journal, discussing the dark and disturbing nature of YA. It references Leaguer Jackie Kessler, who wrote a wonderful response.
"Writing Young-Adult Fiction" on slate.com, which riled up readers and writers alike for painting YA as a simplistic genre.
Some Teen Books Surprisingly X-Rated, Study Finds from LiveScience.com and distributed via Yahoo and Fox News websites. Leaguer Jeanne Stein's books (which aren't YA) were originally cited and later changed to PC & Kristin Cast's series on LiveScience's site. Other news sites still mention Jeanne.
"7th Harry Potter Movie Hastens Diabolic Trend Among Teens" from Christian News Wire, with a nod to Leaguer Diana Rowland (who also doesn't write YA) for glamorizing demonic possession.
I feel some of these sources are questionable when it comes to bias and credibility, but I'll leave it to you to make your own judgments on that. Here are the things that amaze me. First is that my League buddies keep getting "shout-outs" in this subject matter. Regardless if you agree with WSJ, Jackie at least makes sense being cited as a dark YA writer. Jeanne and Diana, however, baffle me because they're mentioned in articles that are focused on YA, not adult, books. This makes me wonder if the article writers were really that careless or if they couldn't find good enough examples of illicit material in actual YA books. Believe me, I think there's plenty of material out there in YA that would shock people (that's what makes YA so awesome), but sometimes I wonder if these articles are really, truly about YA itself.
Because here's the thing. I'm not challenging these articles' various conclusions. I'm questioning their motives. When I watch video clips on Tosh.0, particularly ones depicting groin injuries, I'm always informing my TV that those videos were staged just so those people could get on the show. Likewise, I had a college friend who was obsessed with "voyeur porn" and owned all these pictures he claimed were taken of naked women unawares. I never examined his collection, but I didn't buy his story that they'd all come from photographers lucky enough to pass an oblivious sorority girl's window. I was certain they'd all been set-ups with models, then sold to gullible men. I'm a skeptic. I don't buy that the drama we're often shown is really the real deal.
So let's get back to the YA thing. I heard a blogger say recently that while she doesn't enjoy slamming authors or publishers, she knows that if she posts anything really controversial and scathing, her site and her ads will get hit like crazy. And some days, I wonder if this attitude is being taken to an extreme level by those who post these YA-slamming articles. It's no secret that YA is a hot genre now. It's crossed age lines, and many books are household names. So, if you write something sensational that gets people all riled up, you will get traffic. And no publicity is bad publicity, right? I mean, I've just furthered this point by posting the above four articles.
So what do you think? Is YA bashing a cool new way to draw attention to you/your website? Or are these writers completely serious about their messages?