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Poison Study (Study, #1)
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Poison Study > “Poison Study:” YA or adult fiction? (spoilers)

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message 1: by Tatiana (last edited Mar 01, 2010 05:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana (tatiana_g) “Poison Study” is currently marketed as YA fiction. Do you agree with this classification? Did you find the book too mature for teens in a way it handled violence and sex? Did you find that the flashback scenes in which Yelena recounted her torture were too graphic/explicit for the YA genre? Or did you think that these issues were portrayed in a subdued enough manner to be suitable for teens? Normally, YA fiction has teens as its main characters, to make stories more appealing to the younger audience. “Poison Study’s” characters are adults of 19 (Yelena) and 33 (Valek). Did you think their age made them not relatable to young adults?


Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) I often find the distinction between adult and ya and children's hard to make. This seemed like an adult novel to me, but one that I'd have probably enjoyed from age twelve or thirteen on up.


message 3: by Betsy (new) - added it

Betsy (betsypie) I just purchased the third book for the series and had it placed in the YA section. Then when I went to check out Poison Study, I found that the first two books in the series are downstairs with the adult fiction. I haven't read any of the series yet, but since I'm reading Poison Study now, I am going to read the whole series and see if I should move Fire Study down to the adult collection or move Poison Study and Magic Study up to the teen section.


message 4: by Kate (last edited Mar 01, 2010 10:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate | 45 comments In my opinion it is definately an adult novel. I think there was too much detail about her torture for it to be marketed to young adults. Young adult novels are generally advertised to teens, sometimes as young as eleven or twelve. I definately wouldn't even give this to my fifteen year old cousin to read. Even if the material was "subtle", it still paints a very vivid picture. If that much graphic detail was put into a movie, it would be rated R.


Lady Salford (salford) I agree with Kate. There was too much detail about her torture. Even I felt it was too much. It shouldn't be read by youngsters.


Tatiana (tatiana_g) I also thought it was an adult novel. Too much violence, rape and torture (this theme of rape and torture continues into the rest of the trilogy BTW) for an YA novel. The only YA aspect of this novel was the handling of sex. Not much more than fade into black (unfortunately).


message 7: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Sometimes I am not able to answer this question since I am an adult now. But from what I have read so far... it reads as a mature teen novel to me. There is some violence and torture. Torture is the main part of it that makes it seem adult to me. Otherwise I think it's the young protagonist of the novel that makes it feel like a YA novel to me.


Heather (heatherjoy) I felt as though it was an adult novel. Several books in adult fiction tackle characters in their teens. The fact that Yelena is an adult and dealing with a very mature, worldly romantic interest, and coping with incredibly sensitive and vulgar events in such a frank manner makes me think that it would have been better classified as adult fiction. I didn't feel as though the love scene between Yelena and Valek matched the forthrightness of the rest of the book.


Shea Tatiana wrote: "I also thought it was an adult novel. Too much violence, rape and torture (this theme of rape and torture continues into the rest of the trilogy BTW) for an YA novel. The only YA aspect of this nov..."

Lol, my thoughts exactly. After the detailed recounting of her torture and rape, I was thinking we'd at least get some PG-13 details of the lovemaking action. Ah well. :)


message 10: by Alethea (last edited Mar 07, 2010 12:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 46 comments This is always a tricky question. I was reading adult novels at age 8. I am pretty sure I would have been able to understand and enjoy this novel, even be blown away by it, by the time I was 10.

Maria has had a couple of very young readers tell her that "meeting" Yelena changed their lives. In some of her interviews she refers to a girl who told her that reading Poison Study helped her make a choice to live (she had been contemplating taking her own life).

I think this would have changed my life, actually, as I was abused by a family friend as a child and finding this at that age would have saved me quite a bit of trauma and depression that I experienced between ages 10-23.

That said, this is not for every teen or young person, or every other person whatever the age! I think people of any age should read what makes them happy whether or not someone else thinks it's "appropriate". I know a lot of people balk at the graphic torture but to me the book is much more than that. So if it's not for you, oh well. There are millions of other books out there, I'm sure you'll find one you like! Me, I like this one.

There are quite a few YAs with much more disturbing imagery (don't even get me started on Tender Morsels) and while they are definitely in minority, I don't think having graphic violence should necessarily exclude a book from being labeled YA.


message 11: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate | 45 comments I agree and disagree with you, Alethea. I agree that people should be able to decide what is appropreiate for them and be able to read the things that they like and enjoy.

I don't think it should be labeled a YA novel for that reason though. If someone had no idea about how much detail there is in this book and just picked it up off a YA shelf, they will get a surprise that might not be welcome. I think that if there are young adult readers that like more mature books, let them go to the adult section.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 127 comments I think that it is a Adult book. The Language and Sexual Content is for adults (use of curse words,Yelanas torture and being raped and made to roll around in the nude with her hands tied to her feet and so forth). I would not recomend it for anyone under the age of 18.


message 13: by Kaion (last edited Mar 07, 2010 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) I've seen "young adult" refer to middle-school-ish (10-13), teen (13-18), and young adult (18-21) age groups, so I'm unsure?

At any rate, so far I'd say Poison Study is appropriate for most 13 year olds. But there are no hard and fast rules.


message 14: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aaammmyyy) I am 16 years old right now and I read Poison Study this year. Personally I found the book fine; there was nothing that disturbed me or anything like that. The only thing I hated-and this is most likely because I'm still a teen-was Valek and Yelena's romance. I didn't like how he was 12 years older than Yelena. But then again it's probably just me.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 127 comments I think it should be rated M for mature like the video games lmao. or like PG-13 lol. I think some books over seas actually have the stickers on it like the cd's and video games. Saw it on a youtube vid.


message 16: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I think the fact that Valek was so much older then Yelena is always more noticeable when the women or man is in their late teens early 20. Do you think it would be the same if she was 28 and he was 40? I am not sure if it would be so shocking.

Spoiler:

I did think the torture/rape scene was a little much for teens but then again I think you see that on Law and Order everyday!


message 17: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aaammmyyy) Angie wrote: "I think the fact that Valek was so much older then Yelena is always more noticeable when the women or man is in their late teens early 20. Do you think it would be the same if she was 28 and he w..."

Yes to the torture/rape stuff! Because of the stuff we see on TV these days it didn't shock me or anything.

And yes, if Yelena had been older I wouldn't have minded so much, but if she had been 28 I don't think the book would have been marketed towards young adults in the first place. The fact remains that she was 19, which is pretty close to my age, and with a man that is 12 years her senior...I didn't like it. Then again- it's probably because I'm a teen.


message 18: by Kaion (last edited Mar 07, 2010 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) Amy, I'm not a teen anymore, but I still don't really like reading the much-older-men romances for fairly young girls/women either. (I remember reading the Immortals series by Tamora Pierce with the ending romance between 16-year-old Daine and 30-year-old Numair, who had been her primary mentor and teacher the last three years. Ick.)


message 19: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate | 45 comments Kaion wrote: "Amy, I'm not a teen anymore, but I still don't really like reading the much-older-men romances for fairly young girls/women either. (I remember reading the Immortals series by Tamora Pierce with th..."

I liked Daine and Numair together, except I just made Numair younger in my head. Their age difference was a little weird.


message 20: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "Angie wrote: "I think the fact that Valek was so much older then Yelena is always more noticeable when the women or man is in their late teens early 20. Do you think it would be the same if she w..."

I have to agree... when I was a teen someone who was 30 was old and gross! And now I'm 31!!!


Tatiana (tatiana_g) I read "Poison Study" as an adult book, so the age gap didn't bother me. If Yelena were 16, I'd have a problem with that, but she was 19 and very mature for her age and therefore I didn't feel like their relationship was inappropriate or that he was taking advantage of her youth.


message 22: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Mar 12, 2010 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Oh she is 19? Well that is older. I have been married 9 years now and when I got married I was 22 and my husband was 20 and we had both just turned those ages. Now that I am older I look back I think that was young but at the time I thought I was so grown. So I can see at the age of 19 feeling grown enough to have relationships with older people.


By the way I read this from Maria:
Poison Study was nominated for an ALEX Award by the American Library Association, which picks 10 adult books each year that have special appeal to YA readers. It didn't win the award, but I feel as if the ALA gave it's seal of approval for YA to read the book.


Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) I echo the sentiments that it should be marketed to adults, not young adults. That doesn't exclude young adults from reading it, but they know they're getting heavier stuff. I read somewhere (I wish I could remember where) that the industry is adding a new genre for college-age kids, high teen but not quite adult. Ideally, that's where this would be placed.


message 24: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (aaammmyyy) Annalisa wrote: "I echo the sentiments that it should be marketed to adults, not young adults. That doesn't exclude young adults from reading it, but they know they're getting heavier stuff. I read somewhere (I wis..."

I wish they'd create a new genre like that as well! Whenever I'm at the YA section of the book store I feel a bit old for it, yet there's no other place I can really go. I like some literature but not all; I feel like a place for college-age kids, around say 17 to 21 or so would suit me really well.


message 25: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate | 45 comments Like YA.2


Kelly RAley (kraley) | 100 comments I am currently reading this aloud to my 13, 11, and 9 year old daughters. I have had to do a fair amount of on-the-fly editing. The curse words, when Y reaches for V's pants after a massage, the torture/rape. I just use the words "and they were very mean to her." I pre-read it and really enjoyed the characters and the strong females which is why I decided to read it aloud. Regarding the 16 yr old who saw nothing wrong with this. That makes me sad. Our youth are really exposed to so much so soon. And re Tender Morsals: NOT a YA book. Wow was it explicit, violent, sexual and heavy. It would make a good adult discussion as it was very well written, but I would have trouble recommending it to people. Someone asked about The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo which is most definitely an adult and NOT a YA book. I wouldn't even read it aloud with editing as it would be a much shorter book.

I read YA because I don't enjoy the overly sexualized adult genres and I really enjoy paranormal fantasy. I just don't want certain images in my head, so I choose not to read that stuff. I really liked Poison Study, but will pre-read the other books in the series before letting my kids hear them.


message 27: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I agree about our society as a whole being too exposed to violence and sex. Me included. I love shoot em up video games but when I think about myself yelling "I should've killed him" I am surprised that I would even yell that.


message 28: by Annalisa (last edited Mar 21, 2010 10:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) Kelly,
I agree. And what's sad about it is that authors think they have to push those limits to keep edgy. Maybe it's the parent in me, but I'd rather tone down what gets categorized as YA too.


Kayzee | 180 comments Define younge adult i belive its 16 -25 ur not an adult till your 26 really well intill you get a morgage lol


Kayzee | 180 comments but no when I think about it, I want to keep my 6 year old as innocent as long as I can, I wont let her have any hannah montana stuff lol. Have to be cruel to be kind


message 31: by Annalisa (last edited Mar 16, 2010 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) This is why I think the industry needs a new genre. To me, young adult is equal to teenager, which in my opinion centers around high school. Nineteen is technically a teenager, but I would put it more in that in-between genre, 19-25, not ready for serious fiction, but wanting more than high school. We need some good college protagonists out there.


Kayzee | 180 comments Oh yes I definatly agree!!!


message 33: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
We have actually discussed the age group for YA before, and you may be interested in some of the comments here:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...


message 34: by Drew (new) - rated it 3 stars

Drew | 3 comments I think everyone has made some very valid arguments both ways for Poison Study. The screwy genre of YA is the major issue here. I think it is kind of perfect, though, because it represents the awkwardness of that age. When I worked at Borders, I saw things bleeding out of MG and into YA and adult bleeding into YA, and I think that a lot of the frustration that we feel around trying to fit things into this genre is similar to the frustration that we feel around that age group and the myriad of standards that we have about what is/is not appropriate for them. I’ve seen some things in YA that I considered porn for teens and wanted to start a book burning because it seemed so obscene. Of course, I would never do anything that hypocritical, but it still shocked me.

The real issue, I think, is a lot of kids going to YA are in MG age range and are ready for something more advanced, but not necessarily ready for the content of YA (there are variables there).

As for Poison Study, I think that the publisher was just trying to take advantage of the recent popularity in YA fiction with things like the Twilight craze and wanted to make a buck off it. I don’t think that the author initially intended it for a YA audience, but I could be wrong.


message 35: by Kaion (last edited Mar 18, 2010 05:53PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kaion (kaionvin) Honestly, I don't see the point of having a "college-aged" book group- the problem with the label frustration is that ultimately it *is* a personal designation what one is or isn't ready for- and seeing things as black or white, YA or adult can be pretty arbitrary. The labels are shorthand for a much more complex maturity scale, and people should be thinking of that, not of the arbitrary "symbol".

I have a very very hard time believing one book is going to traumatize any kid for life... perhaps unless they have a supreme lack of balance in their life from other factors. People who blame, for example, a video game, etc for violence are really ignoring the big picture. I find the censorship-support-heavy conversation mildly disturbing.

At adult age, I think 18 year olds are perfectly capable of choosing reading material- there's really no need to "protect". Publishers want to market things at a certain audience, but I think they often times *limit* their audience by pushing at such a narrow demographic.


message 36: by Tatiana (last edited Mar 18, 2010 07:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana (tatiana_g) I don't think we are discussing censorship here. I am all for kids reading adult books, I read plenty of them myself in my young years. It's more of a question of classification, guidance for readers, so that they know what to expect from a book in regards to level of violence or sexual content. I find this conversation not more controversial than if we were discussing the differences, let's say, between romance books and erotica. Neither genre is bad or wrong, as long as people are aware what they are getting into.


message 37: by Jenny (last edited Mar 18, 2010 08:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jenny (narcisse) I see no reason why it can't be classified as both. There are a lot of books that I have seen in the YA or children's sections of bookstores that, while they are not necessarily YA books, would still appeal to the YA readers. Jane Eyre, for example.


Heather (heatherjoy) I am strongly opposed to censorship; however, I think this book should have been classified as adult fiction. I don't think there is anything wrong with a 14 year old or 15 year old reading this book, hell, I read erotica at that age, who am I to judge, but I knew what I was getting into with those books because they were properly classified. This book took me by surprise. There is nothing wrong with what was written on these pages, but they were not written as YA and therefore, shouldn't be classified as such.


message 39: by Heather (last edited Mar 19, 2010 07:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather (heatherjoy) Also, as someone who has worked in the "book" industry, there are distinct rules and guidelines that separate YA from Adult Fiction. It's a personal choice what a reader is mature enough to handle the content, but the "labels" are not short hand for a maturity scale, it’s about content. I have no idea how this book garnered a YA classification.


Jenny (narcisse) Heather wrote: "Also, as someone who has worked in the "book" industry, there are distinct rules and guidelines that separate YA from Adult Fiction."

Such as..?

I was always taught that the YA section is mostly a marketing technique, though a smart one. If a book would be enjoyed by a YA audience, then it should be included in that as well as fantasy or adult fiction or whatever.

I also want to point out that any 'grittiness' that this book contains as far as torture and romance go pales in comparison to the things that show up in 'adult' fantasy. This book is very innocently written compared to the things that I would consider not acceptable for a YA section.


Diana  (higura_natume) | 30 comments I think older teens is the age this book is meant for, so Young Adult i guess...?


Victoria | 5 comments I read a lot of YA stuff and I'm about 16. And honestly I didn't even flinch. I figured what Reyad had done to her and the way everything was written it wasn't vulgar or disgustiong but honest and true. So I think placing this book in the Adult section would deter many teen (like 14 and up) from reading a really good book.


Caitrin (caitreads) | 1 comments This book is classified differently depending on where you shop for or obtain your books. Although the publisher markets it as YA, if you go to a Barnes & Noble, it is shelved in the Adult Romance section. And really, I believe the series falls somewhere in the middle. It would be considered a TAME romance, even a mild fantasy series, but definitely a mature teen series. Not every book falls cleanly into one category or another, and I think the Study series is an example of this. That's why I feel its important to read the reviews, get reader feedback, etc. before letting a 13 year old dive into anything classified as "Teen Fiction" or "Young Adult." The age range for these classifications is broad, and becoming a teenager doesn't mean every book classified for that age group is suddenly appropriate. Maturity matters for such a transitional group of readers.

Back to the original point, I can see Maria Snyder's series classified as either adult or teen. Really it makes me think of all those books shelved in multiple areas - Chronicles of Narnia can be found in Juvenile Fiction and Teen; Ender's Game has a Juvy version, cartoonish cover and all; there's a new printing of Wuthering Heights with a Twilight-esque cover shelved in the Teen section, etc.

Really, this is a series that I believe resonates with readers of various ages.


Deborah Powell's here in Oregon has the series in the Science Fiction section. I never checked to see if it was also in YA. Though it is a smart marketing technique to take a book that fits multiple categories and place a couple copies in each of them.


Heather (heatherjoy) Jenny, if you google YA guidelines you can answer your question for yourself.


message 46: by Jenny (last edited Mar 23, 2010 08:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jenny (narcisse) When I read that, it's just some international organization that suggests services that libraries could supply young adults in their communities and doesn't really have anything to do with how to categorize a book. So I have yet to see a "distinct rule or guideline that separates YA from Adult Fiction".

I'm not trying to argue or anything. I just don't think anyone decides this stuff except the marketing departments of publishers and bookstores. There's no book rating system like there is for movies or video games. Unless they start doing something like that, then it's likely to remain at the discretion of the people who are trying to sell the book.

In my YA lit class in college, we were taught that just the existence of the YA section in bookstores is a marketing tool. It used to be just the children's section or an "adolescent" section. Now they're calling it "young adult" because it sounds better and is likely to attract more teens - early twenties than something like "adolescent" would.

Maria V. Snyder even said in the thread with questions for her, "Poison Study wasn't written with a YA audience in mind, but the overwhelming positive response from young adults (including my 14 year old niece) gave my publisher the idea to try is as a YA title."


Kristin (kristinnb) For me, a YA is from the ages of 12 to 18. I would not let my daughter, if she were of this age, read this book. However, a part of me kinda disagrees with that. I wouldn't keep them completely in the dark about situations like these either. It's hard because, being put in a similar situation at the age of 15, I was in the dark about what to do. Yelena was a strong character that could stand up for herself. If I could have stood up for myself (not kill, but put the guy in jail) then I wouldn't have had to deal with many years of abuse. Maybe an older YA should read about stories like this. Maybe if I read more about characters that were strong and overcame their past, it would have given me a little hope and strength. I don't know. You can put me on the undecided list, I suppose.


message 48: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I find it interesting that a parent might not let a teen read a book of their choosing. Especially when teens barley read anymore.


message 49: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate | 45 comments Angie wrote: "I find it interesting that a parent might not let a teen read a book of their choosing. Especially when teens barley read anymore."

Even though I'm not a parent, I find that a little offensive. Just like you wouldn't let your little five year old watch a rated R horror movie, I can understand not wanting your teenager to read about things that they might not be mature enough to handle.


Jenny (narcisse) I agree. There's a difference between preserving innocence as best you can and sheltering your child so much that they become easy prey, or worse, willing participants in ridiculous behavior once they're free of your overprotection. The best way to preserve your child's innocence is to raise them with strong morals. There's a fine line between innocent and naive.

That being said, I don't think that telling a teenager not to read something is going to stop them from doing it. It never would've stopped me. Once kids are that age they have (hopefully) minds of their own and will find a way to get to the movies or books or whatever it is that you don't want them to be around. And even the best parents won't be able to know what they're up to all the time. That is why building morals and trust is way more important than censorship.


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