Books I Loathed discussion

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Young Adult

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message 1: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments For me, I have found that I really loathe this whole genre. As a young adult, I have often turned to the teen department at my bookstores and libraries. My logic was that other departments like strictly "Fantasy" or "Fiction" would be tailored more to adult-adults, not young adults, and so I imagined they would be either boring or too mature for me.

Luckily, some great book recommendations came my way (thanks, Wesley!), and I have shifted out of young adult fantasy to purely fantasy. I think the issue was that anything under the young adult umbrella is essentially a coming-of-age story, no matter the sub-genre (fantasy, sci-fi, fiction, etc.). I was turned completely away from coming-of-age after reading Cassiopée in French class, and I have since noticed a theme in YA: becoming aware of oneself and the relationships one has with those around. Yes, this works for some people, but for me it's either boring or makes me uncomfortable.

On the flip-side, "adult fantasy" likely includes allusions to sex or puberty, but not as a plot device or meaningful aspect of the story. Take The Name of the Wind, one of my favourites. The protagonist has sex in the book, but it is not described in tremendous detail. The stories are about more than just one person finding his/her place in the world; sure, this might happen along the way, but it is not the defining aspect. Or take Polgara the Sorceress, an exciting epic fantasy and another of my favourites. At one point the twins hit puberty--something that could happen in teen/YA books, which is important to note because it defines these books from middle school fantasy (e.g. Harry Potter). In Polgara the Sorceress, the puberty details are about a paragraph long. It happens, and it's not my favourite part, but the story moves quickly past it, knowing that yes the girls grew up, but this is a fantasy book (albeit about "young adults" at the time), and there are much more interesting things that are happening to them than dealing with sexuality.

Anyone else agree with me?? Are some YA books actually raunchier than those labelled as "adult" or just not defined by age at all??


message 2: by Lori S. (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) | 78 comments Julia wrote: "Anyone else agree with me?? Are some YA books actually raunchier than those labelled as "adult" or just not defined by age at all??"

I do believe this is true, mostly because such books are written by people who want to connect with people who are trying to figure things out and what do most teen dramas/plots/etc. revolve around? That mysterious thing known as sex. I don't know that they're raunchier than adult books (depending on the genre, of course, erotica can be pretty visceral) so much as more obsessed with the whole idea because for that age group the whole concept is new and exciting, something a lot of them want to explore.

YA/NA did not exist when I was that age so I read a lot of SF and fantasy which today would be labeled "adult" (though some of it has been relabeled as YA like Ender's Game which was just straight up SF when I first read it). If you wanted romance or what have you, you had to read Harlequin books and the like. These days it seems that sex is just about everywhere and in everything, even when it doesn't need to be there. That drives me nuts.


message 3: by Tytti (last edited Dec 07, 2018 09:34AM) (new)

Tytti | 25 comments Julia wrote: "Anyone else agree with me?? Are some YA books actually raunchier than those labelled as "adult" or just not defined by age at all??"

I haven't read any YA but it seems to me that at least the readers of YA are more obsessed about sex in books. As someone who has been reading "adult" novels since I was about 8 years old, I have very rarely come across many detailed sex scenes, probably because I don't really read romance novels. Then again I don't usually pay much attention to them, either. Also I tend not to read too many historical fiction novels written by (mainly American) women authors because they seem to be just romances in disguise. And I am also European, so sex isn't really that mysterious to us, we have had sex ed and seen enough movies with sex scenes in them, and most readers start reading adult novels when they are in their teens, anyway.

Also I don't think YA is a genre, it's an age category. I wouldn't understand having a genre based only on the age of the protagonist.


message 4: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments Lori S. wrote: "These days it seems that sex is just about everywhere and in everything, even when it doesn't need to be there. That drives me nuts."

Me too. There are plenty more ways to "come of age" besides the sexual aspect. At least, I *hope* adulthood is about more than just that!


message 5: by RJ (new)

RJ (bountifulflummox) | 7 comments Not sure if they're more explicit but they often strike me as almost aggressively hetero. I'm here for more friendships, more LGBTQIA youth and more storylines around other connections besides romantic ones. Also, I often find heternormative tropes and stories terribly predictable and bland. If there is a pairing in the book, it should develop organically. It often feels like checking off a box.


message 6: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments @Tytti: Sure it's not a "genre" but YA is still just a different way to group books. (I.e. children fantasy, teen fantasy, YA fantasy, etc.) I wouldn't say either that all YA books are about only young adults; more like they try to describe people as characters that would apply to young adults. Does that make sense? I first looked to YA fantasy because I thought I could relate to the characters better at my age, but I'm finding that I relate much better to younger characters, or even characters who are older than young adults.


message 7: by Tytti (last edited Dec 11, 2018 12:51PM) (new)

Tytti | 25 comments Julia wrote: "I wouldn't say either that all YA books are about only young adults; more like they try to describe people as characters that would apply to young adults."

Yes, that's why I said it's an age category, they are books written for teenagers. I'm not sure why people expect adults to read them...

Also I have never chosen books to read because I thought I could relate to the characters, it's not in any way important to me. Of course I generally try to understand the characters and their actions but they don't have to be like me, in fact I often prefer they are nothing like me. The age of the characters is meaningless.


message 8: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments Fair enough. For me though, I really like *likeable* characters. I mean, they should be flawed, and they don't all have to be *good* people, but I want to have an invested interest in them.


message 9: by Lori S. (last edited Dec 12, 2018 09:51AM) (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) | 78 comments Tytti wrote: "Julia wrote: "Yes, that's why I said it's an age category, they are books written for teenagers. I'm not sure why people expect adults to read them..."

Because a reader is a reader is a reader regardless of age group the reader belongs to. I enjoy books no matter what the age group at which they are aimed. All I require is good writing, interesting characters and situations, and an author who really cares about what they writing. Some of the best books I've read to date feature characters who are younger than I am currently.


message 10: by Julia (last edited Dec 12, 2018 11:10AM) (new)

Julia | 40 comments I want to like the characters, but rarely do I like a "young adult" protagonist. Simple as that.


message 11: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments This group is called "Books I Loathed," not "Books To Which I Really Should Give a Second Chance" 😉


message 12: by Tytti (last edited Dec 12, 2018 02:58PM) (new)

Tytti | 25 comments Lori S. wrote: "I enjoy books no matter what the age group at which they are aimed. All I require is good writing, interesting characters and situations, and an author who really cares about what they writing."

Then why are they labeled YA? I have plenty of books to read that have been written for "adults", for people who don't need the handholding and simpler writing meant for teenagers who, for some reason, don't seem to be able to read books without that label or more complicated novels that can be found in the regular fiction. And frankly I am not interested in all the teenage "drama", either, I don't need to have a romance in every book that I read. If they were good enough for everyone, they wouldn't need that label.


message 13: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments You have a point there!


message 14: by Lori S. (last edited Dec 14, 2018 10:30AM) (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) | 78 comments Tytti wrote: "Then why are they labeled YA?"

As I understand it, the labels YA and NA were originally motivated by profits to be had by aiming books at the teen market specifically rather than producing books for those who need their hands held. That said, this genre is extremely profitable and, in fact, is still a growing market. The output of books is incredible (though, admittedly some of them are poorly written).

A lot of people who are most definitely not teens (adults ranging in age from 18 on up) read these books precisely for the reasons you deride them for. Or, at least I do, anyway. Adulthood inhales to the extreme most of the time, so it's nice to step back and just enjoy the ride on occasion. There is a vast diversity of characters, experiences, and ideologies to be had in these books which, surprise-surprise, is actually lacking in a lot of adult books. I've encountered more queer and non-Caucasian characters in kids/YA books than I have in all the adult fiction I've ever read.

This article explains other reasons for people who like this genre.

Such "simpler" books didn't exist when I was that age; there were either children's books all the way up to Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer featuring teenagers as the protagonists or adult books, with all the complications and annoyances of being an adult.

[ETA] Then I found this article and I agree with the writer: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/...


message 15: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments Follow the money: create a "new label" to draw interest, and therefore up your sales.


message 16: by Tytti (last edited Dec 17, 2018 12:25PM) (new)

Tytti | 25 comments Lori S. wrote: "the labels YA and NA were originally motivated by profits to be had by aiming books at the teen market specifically rather than producing books for those who need their hands held."

Yeah, they are aimed at the people who need their hands held when choosing something to read. Luckily I can take the label as a warning and stay clear of them and find something interesting to read from the adult section.

Lori S. wrote: "There is a vast diversity of characters, experiences, and ideologies to be had in these books which, surprise-surprise, is actually lacking in a lot of adult books. I've encountered more queer and non-Caucasian characters in kids/YA books than I have in all the adult fiction I've ever read."

I don't need YA for that, it's quite enough when I read books written by authors from other countries, and there seems to be queer characters in every other book these days. Also somehow I have always managed to find books without "all the complications and annoyances of being an adult", though of course usually with more freedom there is also more responsibility.

I rarely read books with Caucasian characters, there are not that many novels set in the Caucasus region, though I did just shelf one written by a Chechen featuring another Caucasian, Stalin... (I do hope that USA would join the rest of the world to the 21st century and stop that ridiculous racial labeling. And I have often wondered whether real Caucasians are actually "Caucasian" in the US, because it certainly doesn't look like it... I know that we didn't used to be, we were Mongoloid/Asian, because apparently your "race" is determined by the language you speak, just like speaking Spanish makes one Latino i.e. "brown".)


message 17: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments Hmm... here's something. What are some young adult books written for guys? When I visualize my bookstores, I see lots of women authors and women protagonists. Sure, that's not all, but those are the ones in the forefront of this category, at least in my eyes. It seems like most YA are re-hashes of Disney movies... one girl who is the only one who stands out among the cookie cutter people around her, and how she fights to make a difference and be heard... but in YA books, they have sex along the way.

Thoughts?


message 18: by Lori S. (last edited Dec 15, 2018 05:02PM) (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) | 78 comments Tytti wrote: "I don't need YA for that, it's quite enough when I read books written by authors from other countries, and there seems to be queer characters in every other book these days."

Actually, I find I have more responsibility than freedom these days. >shrug< YMMV Don't mind me. Adulthood is what you make of it, I guess, and most of the time I find it to be far less interesting than watching grass grow.

Also somehow I have always managed to find books without "all the complications and annoyances of being an adult", though of course usually with more freedom there is also more responsibility."

What has been your favorite book so far?

"I rarely read books with Caucasian characters, there are not that many novels set in the Caucasus region, though I did just shelf one written by a Chechen featuring another Caucasian, Stalin... (I do hope that USA would join the rest of the world to the 21st century and stop that ridiculous racial labeling. And I have often wondered whether real Caucasians are actually "Caucasian" in the US, because it certainly doesn't look like it... I know that we didn't used to be, we were Mongoloid/Asian, because apparently your "race" is determined by the language you speak, just like speaking Spanish makes one Latino i.e. "brown"."

My apologies, I did not mean offense. I meant non-white characters, who have populated most books over the years, something that is changing, happily. However, I do agree that we US Americans need an update in attitudes and language, etc.


message 19: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments Yeah, I get that on the responsibility vs. freedom thing. I had a friend who was so excited for high school because of all the freedom... obviously we drifted, because I found it to be nothing but responsibility! And tests. And projects. And the dreaded English essays.


message 20: by Lori S. (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) | 78 comments Julia wrote: "Hmm... here's something. What are some young adult books written for guys? When I visualize my bookstores, I see lots of women authors and women protagonists. Sure, that's not all, but those are the ones in the forefront of this category, at least in my eyes. It seems like most YA are re-hashes of Disney movies... one girl who is the only one who stands out among the cookie cutter people around her, and how she fights to make a difference and be heard... but in YA books, they have sex along the way.

Thoughts?"


The vast majority of YA (to me, any road) seems to be aimed at the female market.

I think the "re-hashes of Disney movies..." is more in response to most books in the past having male characters who do that sort of thing. It's the age of girl power.


message 21: by Julia (last edited Dec 17, 2018 10:23AM) (new)

Julia | 40 comments Interesting... what are young adult males reading these days then?? Maybe I should try those type of books instead!

Now I'm thinking about books with male protagonists... so like, all of the other books out there. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451), all are kinda how I described the princesses... one spectacular person among everyone else in the world.

Next thought: what are some books about unspectacular people? People who are just like everyone else. Is there any potential for a story that way? Do we really want to read about ordinary people, or do we crave the vicarious experience of being that one person who stands out? I guess there are some love stories that are about supposedly "spectacular" ways that two *ordinary* people find each other, but YA seems to be more about the outliers.


message 22: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 25 comments Lori S. wrote: "Adulthood is what you make of it, I guess, and most of the time I find it to be far less interesting than watching grass grow."

Well I know I have it easier than my parents' generation did, not to mention that of my grandparents, who literally had to fight for their freedom (and ours) and when even feeding everyone was a struggle, so I really can't complain much. And I still don't understand why you would need to read books about "adulthood", whatever that even means.

Also personally I find it hard to choose favourite books, some are more entertaining and easier to read but they are also easier to forget, more difficult books may be more demanding and not really that "entertaining" but in the end often more rewarding.

Lori S. wrote: "I meant non-white characters, who have populated most books over the years"

Yes, I know what it means, it sounds equally bad, like there are "us whites" and then there is the rest of the world all lumped together, like their main characteristic is that they are not white. I don't even know who are considered "white" and who are only "brown", as it seems to be completely random. And maybe that's a problem in the US, personally I don't really expect books set in Europe, especially in the historical times, to have that many non-European characters in them and I don't read that many novels set in today's world, but there seems to be enough authors and characters with immigrant backgrounds among the newer books. And there are plenty of ethnic minorities in Europe, as well, they just are more or less all "white". (I don't really know if Pushkin or the father and son Dumas wrote any "POC" characters in their books, even though they themselves had African ancestry.)


message 23: by Tytti (last edited Dec 18, 2018 11:27AM) (new)

Tytti | 25 comments Julia wrote: "Interesting... what are young adult males reading these days then?? Maybe I should try those type of books instead!"

Probably just regular fiction, often scifi and fantasy, at least that's what my male friends are reading and what they have mentioned, or just nonfiction about some subject that interest them. And I have never really been interested in "spectacular" characters, either, which is probably why I won't read YA.


message 24: by Julia (new)

Julia | 40 comments LOL yeah one of my favourite books is a fantasy novel, recommended to me by a young adult male :)


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