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Book Discussions > Sex in YA Books

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message 1: by JJ (new)

JJ (thereviewlibrarian) | 8 comments So... I recently blogged about sex in YA books. Should they, shouldn't they, does it really add to the plot? Are we being too censory to say otherwise? I posted a link to said blog on a facebook YA group and the discussion went crazy! However, all the comments were on Facebook and not the blog. So now I'm curious blogging YA fans what do YOU think? And please be a dear and express those thoughts in my blog comments? :) www.thereviewlibrarian.weebly.com


christina ♡  (pageswithwings) | 2 comments I made a post similar to this on FB the other day. I think it is okay as long as there is a disclaimer for descriptive/detailed scenes. In adult books, particularly romance novels, sex scenes are extremely common. But in YA, we don't really expect to read a sex scene. That is why I think there should be some kind of disclaimer on the book. Regardless of age, if I was uncomfortable reading heavy scenes, I would want to know if a YA book had them before buying it. That's just my thoughts! :)


message 3: by Nadwa (new)

Nadwa | 50 comments Mod
I agree, as long as there's a disclaimer, I wouldn't mind it. I wouldn't mind it either way actually, since I read adult/new adult books just as frequently as I read YA books. But I personally like to know what the book contains in case I want to recommend it to a young reader or someone who isn't comfortable reading detailed sex scenes. This is a very debatable topic, we could go on and on for days :p


message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (RHouseBG) | 3 comments I agree there should be a disclaimer! When I recommend a book I need to know the person will be 100% comfortable with it, I for one don't really like to read too detailed scenes... I even don't think the ACOTAR series is fully YA!


message 5: by Lia (new)

Lia (LostInAStory) | 20 comments I don't think there should be too explicit sex scenes in YA, but if there have to be, there should be a disclaimer. Just like in movies, just a warning sign can be enough. I think there should also be disclaimers for potentially triggering topics such as suicide and self-harm.
I think ACOTAR should be considered NA, and not YA, because I would not recommend it to people under the age of 16 and a lot of people of that age read YA.


message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura | 53 comments Mod
I work at a superstore and there was this lady buying a book for her granddaughter, and asked my opinion of it. I can't remember the exact book she picked out, but I had read it and mentioned that there were some graphic sex scenes in it, and I asked how old her granddaughter was. The lady went so red in the face, managed to say, "14," and put the book back 😂.

I guess it kind of depends on the genre of the novel as well: for e.g. you're more likely to find sex in a contemporary than a fantasy, and if there is sex in a fantasy, 9 out of 10 times, its a "fade to black" situation. I always find sex in contemporary novels to be graphic, and I'm ok with that (if it's presented as healthy, safe, consensual, etc.) because, depending on the reader, sometimes these types of novels are where teens get their info on sex from, and to pretend that teens don't have sex is not doing anybody any favours. That being said, I do agree with the disclaimer at the back of the novel situation, just so readers who don't enjoy reading about sex aren't shocked and put off. But if it's something that is eluded to and then 'fades to black' (as in "We kiss and fall to the bed", and then the scene cuts to the next day and you can figure out what they did), I don't think there's an issue at all about including it in the book.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura | 53 comments Mod
Lia wrote: "I don't think there should be too explicit sex scenes in YA, but if there have to be, there should be a disclaimer. Just like in movies, just a warning sign can be enough. I think there should also..."

I'm glad you brought up SJM because what really annoys me about SJM is that her Throne of Glass series has always been marketed as YA, and all of a sudden in book 5 she has graphic sex scenes. That is so, so, so negligent and bad on the author's, editor's, and publishing company's behalf, because you can't suddenly decide in book 5 of a 7 book series to completely re-market a series' brand.
I brought this up to my publishing lecturer (I study publishing/editing) and he said the author has potentially breached her contract by doing that, which is why you'll see that TOG is still labeled as YA and not NA because once it's officially labeled as NA, they'll have breached the contract, which would have specifically named the books as YA, especially because she publishes under Bloomsbury Children's USA - yeah, CHILDREN'S. (hopefully my tangent makes sense)
Anyway, I have no issues with ACOTAR including sex scenes, because she started in book 1, but not TOG. (Although it's important to note that ACOTAR is not officially considered NA, readers just say it is - I just looked it up on the website and it's on the Children's list under "teens").

I think you bring up a good point about other issues being put in as disclaimers too, and I agree. For e.g., there are many novels that feature sexual assault suddenly in the novel, and that could potentially be triggering to someone reading it, especially if it comes out of the blue - and in most cases it does.


McKenzie (Bookishthingsandtea) | 6 comments I have some of the same issues with SJM's latest books. I've been annoyed with the ToG series and how it's evolved, which is sad because it used to be one of my favorite series. In the first several books, she set up this wonderful fantasy world, and now the last book (even the last two) focuses more on the romance, and especially the sex scenes. I don't have anything against sex scenes in books, but I wish that they were done with relevance to the genre (especially YA). If I'm reading a YA contemporary book, I wouldn't be surprised to see some non-explicit sex scenes, in that "fade to black" format. However, I'm not looking for rather explicit sex scenes that go on and on for pages in my YA books. To me, there is also a time and place for a sex scene. The middle of preparation for a war is perhaps not the best time.

Here's a little quote from miss Victoria Schwab when she visited my city on tour for ACOL: "Romance is for the winners."


message 9: by Ryann (new)

Ryann Crofoot (rcrofoot) | 5 comments Personally, I have very little issue with sex in YA novels, even if it gets a little explicit. As Laura mentioned, teens are most likely going to have or have already had sex, and it doesn't get much more explicit than doing it yourself, so I don't really see the harm in putting explicit sex scenes in YA novels, as long as it's done well. I think it's important that teens, see portrayals of healthy sex lives. Books that show partners who genuinely care about each other, who get into arguments and resolve them, who have to work at their relationship and/or their sex life, are important for teens to read so they get a better understanding of how to operate in relationships they are most likely about to be entering.

I have a little bit of an issue with the idea of disclaimers for sexual content. Problem #1 I could see happening is that, especially those who may be in the 14-16 range (who don't have jobs), teens may be depending on their parents to buy books for them. This could lead teens to be cut off from books they might really enjoy, but that their parents don't approve of (which I suppose could be a whole separate topic).

Problem #2 is for those teens who have the nosy helicopter parents. Even at age 20, if my mom had gone through my library and found a book with a sexual content disclaimer, I would never have heard the end of it, and she isn't even the strictest parent I've met.

For me, I think since the genre is Young Adult, it's only fair to assume that there will be some adult (sexual) content in YA books, even if there isn't a disclaimer. Though I will say I think there should probably be disclaimers for triggering content like abuse, self-harm, etc, because that could potentially be mentally harmful to people, and isn't always covered in the synopsis.


message 10: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (ps_i_still_read_you) | 7 comments If sex is going to be in YA I prefer that it's talked about responsibly, the scene itself isn't explicit, and it's actually important to the plot and the building of the relationship.


message 11: by Darque (new)

Darque  Dreamer  (DarqueDreamer) | 4 comments I feel like YA should not have graphic sex scenes. They can be done in tasteful, entertaining, and informative ways without going in to detail like Nora Roberts does in her books. If YA contains graphic sex then we might as well stop labeling them YA. I feel like the point of YA is to bring together young and mature content to younger readers in a tasteful, non-graphic way that is still entertaining but is not as serious or graphic as adult content.


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