Pages

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Convert a YA Doubter into a YA Believer


Combat YA ignorance with a whole heaping of YA knowledge!

A couple of months ago, I agreed to meet a friend at the mall for lunch. I arrived before our scheduled meet time, so I, naturally, went to wait in the bookstore. When she finally showed up, a whopping fifteen minutes later, I, naturally, had found four books I wanted to buy. Being wise and frugal and all parts mature (ha), I asked her to narrow it down for me.

"I don't know," she said. "I'm never heard of them."

"Exactly!" I said. "Judge them purely by synopsis or the cover or because you hate the title font, I don't care. Pick for me."

She took the books in her hands, looked over them, and frowned. "Oh. These are, like... tweeny books."

 

And the tone of her voice pretty much said it all. I bought all four, JUST BECAUSE. (Okay, to spite her. Just a little)

For some reason I cannot figure out, YA gets a bum rap. The higher-ups and the powers-that-be and the Dead White Men who rule the Godly Pantheon of Literature (totally a thing) have decreed that things written for youths, for girls, by women, about kissing, about magic, and on and on an on, are lesser. And the truth of the matter is they simply aren't. For example, the Goodreads Awards nominations just went up. There are a walloping fifteen categories devoted to adult literature of all categories. YA has two. Two categories that combine numerous genres such as romance and contemporary and historical, or fantasy and science fiction and dystopian and paranormal. In the adult brackets, all these genres get individual chances to shine. Why?



I'm an English major, which means I talk to people every single day who think that if Hemingway didn't write it, it doesn't count. And that, of course, is crap, which is why I've put together a list of books to convert even the staunchest YA doubter into a YA believer.

Even if you don't agree with me on the books I've chosen (and you won't, because tastes vary, and also I haven't read all these books myself, as a bunch were picked by my Twitter followers), the point is, so many of you could replace every book on my list with five or maybe ten different books. There are dozens, no, hundreds, of amazing YA books, and they deserve the reputation and the respect given to "more legit" books..

Like there is such a thing as a "non-legit" book. "Does it contain words? Words put together in sentences? CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE A BOOK OF LEGITIMATE WORTH."

Books to Convert a YA Doubter into a YA Believer

If they say: "There are no books of literary value in YA!"
You fling at their faces:

1579323112842115172372144392881629601
15745753158266481257831311595276
6482837119322Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers36363743518131693208751492516045088

If they say, "There are no fantasy books with really dense world-building and inventive magic!"
You fling at their faces:

101941571042909212394100https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1345651276l/13538816.jpg
8573642518848546114
4932435605106342491Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

If they say, "All the YA heroines are weak and whiny and dependent on boys!"
You fling at their faces:

1351939711983940Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)9394691
2986865927565811500217

If they say, "YA supernatural! Nothing but vampires and love triangles and these are obviously bad things for REASONS!"
You fling at their faces: 

129716629460487Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1333397426l/10866624.jpg
94130441878117728889
109294323456279859436

If they say, "There's no legitimate science fiction in YA!"
You fling at their faces:

 The Lost GirlAll Our Yesterdays16101128
82351781123571211043618
1351745512157407

If they say, "There are no true wordsmiths in YA! No true masters of prose!"
You fling at their faces:

 13455782176754628603765Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)84901128306761190637686667The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

If they say, "Authors don't take RISKS in YA!"
You fling at their faces:

13262783176231436050678
1344653789280549464733Review: Fault Line by C. Desir12665819

If they say, "There's no deep, profound, historicals in YA! It's all so kiddy-like! Kids don't get history!"
You fling at their faces:

 1192551417262236956554813000748
1610109578243221117822513112915

If they say, "There are no good bildungsromans anymore. In my day Holden Caulfied blah blah all the phonies blah!"
You fling at their faces:

122946521606890513069935
The Beginning of Everything2999475


If they say, "It's all so girly and fluffy and... FUNNY! I am an enemy of humor and joy! I am an unparalleled specimen of testoterone and whisky and darkness and if I laugh my face will crack in two!"
You say, "SO FREAKING WHAT IF IT'S GIRLY AND FLUFFY AND FUNNY?" and fling in their faces:

108903191604363315283043Anna and the French Kiss
Epic Fail6931356Past Perfect
827808524701627267

If they say, "Most YA writers are women and this is bad for REASONS that have to do with testosterone and misogyny and stupidity!"
You fling a fist at their faces and say, "DARN TOOTIN' THEY ARE."

 

 Which YA books would you fling at the faces of YA doubters? Or, you know, hand them gently, but with an excellent withering stare?


50 comments:

  1. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH. *bookmarks for later use*

    I would throw The Night Circus at people who don't think YA can have beautiful prose. Also The Name of the Star, at people who think YA Paranormal/Supernatural is all vampires and werewolves. YA has so freaking MUCH to offer... I think the naysayers are just scared and in denial. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love everything about this. I have a friend who think YA can never be as good as "real" literature either(we were both writing/English majors). I keep flinging The Book Thief at her over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOVE this post! I haven't read most of the contemporaries because I think everything is better with dragons, but that's okay! ;-) Excellent choices for the beautiful writing and fantasy world-building and sci-fi sections :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. I literally have nothing else to add to this post except MEGAN WHALEN TURNER. I literally flung that series at my friend for almost THREE YEARS. She read all four books in four days and now trusts me unquestioningly. *pats self on back*

    Seriously, AMAZING and AWESOME post. Very well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I second the Queen's Thief suggestion. Either inventive world building or literary value. Probably literary value since most of the ones mentioned are contemporary & QT has cool world building but is more focused on the characters. And Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy for historical. Also Lauren DeStefano for writing.

      Also I know what you mean about the English major & certain people re: YA. In my contemporary speculative fiction class last year, a girl mentioned Warm Bodies to our professor at the end of class. It was coming out as a movie - she'd looked it up and summarized the plot. I was about to say, oh, yeah, I loved that one when my professor rolled his eyes and made some derogatory comment about Twilight. Le sigh.

      Delete
    2. I need the name and location of this professor, who clearly needs to be smacked upside the head. Warm Bodies was amazing, and has it's own classic lit references AND is total classic-lit-allegory! I hate when people think a title means their opinion is infallible and must remain unchanging. Gah!

      Delete
  5. This is THE BEST post ever. I feel so annoyed all the time because of judgy people who think it´s weird that I as a 21 year old still read YA. I´m not good at defending myself on this, which is a shame. But now I have the perfect solution, I will fling this post in their face!
    On the other hand, this post is not so great for my wishlist...I´ve added so many new books I want to read lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't feel bad, I'm a 30 year old librarian who still reads YA all the time (and I'm not a YA librarian. I'm in Adult Reference). And I'm always recommending YA books to people if they ask for new reads and talking about YA books with my friends/fellow readers. Give those judgy people an eye-roll of epic, YA proportions and shrug those haters off, kid (I call you "kid" because like I said before, I'm 30 and therefore old :) ).

      Delete
  6. Love this post a lot. I have a friend who swears that crying over a book is beyond stupid as they aren't real. So I want to throw three books at her. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, The Program by Suzanne Young and the yet-to-be-released-but-oh-so-amazing Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor. Then I'd dare her not to shed one tiny tear and if she managed it, I'd call her a freaking robot.

    There are a lot of books in this post that I need to read. I need to make that happen ASAP.

    ReplyDelete
  7. ALL HAIL GILLIAN, MASTER OF SMARTNESS AND EXCELLENT POINTS.

    But seriously. I need to print this post out and put it on my wall and stick it all over my school and bring it to my university book club and shove it on everyone's faces. Because you're totally and completely right. And you (and Twitter) made some awesome choices.

    PREACH.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I mostly just let people miss out because I seriously have no patience for it, BUT in the past few months I've cracked people with BEFORE I FALL, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. I like to think JELLICOE ROAD would do it but I don't think non-YA lovers would trust me enough to get through the first 100 pages; it's hard enough with people who already love YA :) I did try FINNIKIN on my SIL recently, but alas, it was only "like," not love. Gonna keep trying with her, though....

    ReplyDelete
  9. I LOVE YOU AND YOUR BELLIGERENT BOOK BUYING! (and your hilarious posts, genius lists and well-timed gifs)

    Also: I FLING IT AT THEIR FAAAAAAAACE. Google I Threw It On The Ground for reference. (or go here: http://t.co/o4VjHNeUd8)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is just BEYOND AWESOME, Gillian. You go, go so hard girl! =D

    I'll fling Take Me There by Carolee Dean, Just One Day, Parallel, Divergent, Pivot Point, Vampire Academy, This Song Will Save Your Life, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Distance Between Us, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Golden, In Honor, All Our Yesterdays and MOAR at their faces.

    There is no end to YA. Guess that makes me a hardcore believer. Yayee.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Basically, you are my hero and this post is the best.

    I'm studying English and I know exactly what you mean about THOSE people. My class is filled with them, and they are annoying and judgmental and annoying. And the next time someone is going to ask me for YA recs for people who don't like teensy books (basically, people who are snobs) because they are so childish (*kicks* *stabs* *punches*) I'm going to send them your list.

    I would definitely throw Golden, Just One Day, This Song Will Save Your Life, Looking for Alaska, More Than This, The Book Thief, If You Find Me and Eleanor & Park in their face. And hope that it hurts. *flips hair*

    ReplyDelete
  12. So, I'm seeing that the theme of the post is just to fling books in people's faces. I totally approve.

    I'm not a YA snob, I read it pretty much exclusively, but thank you for all the recommendations! My to-read list is growing out of control again!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This post makes my heart sing with joy. I hate when I tell people that I'm writing a YA book and they look at me like that doesn't count. It's crazy and I don't like how people don't give YA as much credit as it deserves, there are some mind blowing books out there! YAY for this post!

    Also, now I wanna know what the 4 book are!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'd throw the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Especially to the testoterone crowd b/c those books blow up stuff repeatedly! And yet, I still bawled at the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! And they make you question the concept of power, and good and evil, and right and wrong, and humanity itself.

      Delete
    2. Word. This was the series I thought of for flinging.

      Delete
  15. Oh hi new favorite blogger! I will start by saying that I am 36. I love YA because they are more hopeful and optimistic. Also, I just read My Life Next Door and Fangirl in the last few months and they are some of my favorite books EVER - I mean, there are a lot of books up there that I like and that I love, but MAN. Fangirl and My Life Next Door. So much love. Also, 2 of the best boys in books ever. Magic.

    ReplyDelete
  16. *favorites post* *retweets* This. Is. Awesome! So much love...

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a gorgeous post and I agree with everything. This needs to be shouted to the world.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Uh, Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time".
    YA string theory? Yeah, we got that.

    And also, personally, I find YA a hard genre to fight for because it's so huge. There's every subgenre (romance, horror, suspense, fantasy, contemporary lit, sci fi, mystery, etc etc) within YA...making it basically literature. In fact, several great YA novels I've read, I've mentally framed as lit instead of YA.

    And I'm 98% certain the Twilight series killed YA. My personal feelings about it aside, it was mass marketed as a girly tweeny sparkly vampire book that made teeny boppers (and their moms) lose their friggin' minds. And that besmirches the genre as a whole, making it all seem that shallow and self-serving. You have to read (many of those listed above) to start understanding the breadth and depth of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ALSO. ALSO! I want a refund on every minute of my BA-earning life that I had to read Hemingway. Steinbeck was cool, but Hemingway was a twatwaddle. Anyone who says any piece of lit is meaningful purely because of the author is an arrogant idiot. And also, clearly did not sit through 4+ years of college classes on literary critique.

      Delete
  19. This post is PERFECT. I want to show it to everybody!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Loooooove this post! Hello, fellow english major! *high five* I perfectly understand what you mean about those people who think books that aren't classic are not real books, ugh. I think I won't add more book options since I think this is already perfect! :D

    ReplyDelete
  21. GILLIAN. I adore this post! It was high time someone created a collection of books like this, and the choices you and everyone else made were spot on. I've read quite a few of these and would certainly recommend them too!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes, I love this post and I love you!! And now you've given me quite a few more books that need to be added to my TBR list!!

    *standing ovation*

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh my, what an incredible post! I got sent here from a link on storiesandsweeties.com - so glad that I clicked on it. This is brilliant and love so many books on here. As someone who can happily read YA and adult fiction, I completely agree that YA fiction is as important and note worthy as adult fiction. I was also dismayed to find it only gets two categories on the Goodreads awards, it's just not enough!

    There are so many that I love to fling in people's faces. Some favourites: The Sight by David Clement-Davies, The Noughts & Crosses series by Malorie Blackman, His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games, Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and on and on and on!

    Such a great post! I will definitely be sharing this. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  24. LOVE this. I am sharing it all over the place!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh boy, this post is made out of awesomeness. I've scrolled through the books you've picked and we have so many titles in common. There are definitely A LOT of these books I would recommend to other people. Thanks for sharing this <3

    ReplyDelete
  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  27. THIS POST. It makes me want to run up to strangers on the street and say LOOK AT THIS RIGHT NOW AND THEN GO READ ALL OF THESE. Seriously. Now.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This post is EXCELLENT. Thank you so much for compiling such an awesome list!

    ReplyDelete
  29. ERHMYGARHD!!! I love this list. I'm 25 and still love reading YA as much as I love reading 'adult' fiction. There's some truly grown-up, absolutely gorgeous prose and literature in YA books and they get frowned on because they aimed at getting teens to read. Well poop to that I say. THis list will also come in handy at work (I am a librarian) and it will be useful for recommendations.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Totally sharing this on Facebook. Awesome list!!! I'm 37 and I LOVE reading YA. A good book is a good book no matter who it is intended for.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Don't lie. You also bought all four because you wanted them. I know you and your book-wanting ways.

    So, basically, most of the things I love are lesser? I'll show you lesser, oh Pantheon. *kicks Pantheon and the nuts and watches as they cry* http://gifs.gifbin.com/480503758.gif

    The Goodreads categories made me so mad. Really? I can only pick two YA books? YOU MONSTERS.

    Okay, so on an individual level, I disagree with some of these, but whatever. I love the category break downs.

    Also, the following are ones I've forced on my parents and that they have loved: Shadow & Bone, Seraphina (Mom's fave), Maria V. Snyder (though not this one), Throne of Glass (Dad's fave), Graceling, Legend, The Diviners, The Mediator, Something Strange & Deadly, Cinder, The Book Thief.

    I totally need to give them Trickster's Choice, Finnikin of the Rock, Scarlet, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and For Darkness Shows the Stars

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, there were more. I also gave them Leviathan and Grave Mercy. If my 60 year old parents, both with college degrees and one with a PhD in Mathematics of all things, can embrace YA fiction, so can anyone, right? RIGHT.

      Delete
  32. The only ones I don't second wholeheartedly are the ones I haven't gotten to. Yet.

    This is the Golden Age of YA, with scores of writers pouring into the field to work with editors like David Levithan and the many strong writers groups, working within a classification that allows them tremendous latitude in subject, theme, plotline, treatment, viewpoint. I don't think the only creative writing is happening in YA these days, but I think the only books that will still be read in a century will all have been published as YA.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Very well said. I just finished Two Boys Kissing and think it not only stands up to many adult novels, but it puts them to shame. I know I'm going backwards, but I read John Green's Fault in the Stars recently so now am turning to Will Grayson, Will Grayson for funsies.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Very well said. I just finished Two Boys Kissing and think it not only stands up to many adult novels, but it puts them to shame. I know I'm going backwards, but I read John Green's Fault in the Stars recently so now am turning to Will Grayson, Will Grayson for funsies.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am SO IN LOVE with this post. Well said! I agree with many of your choices and need to investigate many more!

    ReplyDelete
  36. "You fling at their faces." HAHAHA! I love this post. Bookmarked it for future reference because I'm terrible at coming up with good book examples. A couple of months ago I was talking to my friend who majors in English and since she's my friend on Goodreads too, she knows what books I read. What bugged me was when she said, "I noticed you like to read those kind of books," in a tone that came off as looking down on my book choices. I am going to fling your blogpost at her face instead ;)

    ReplyDelete
  37. You win the Internet, Gillian. That is all. Take a bow, my friend. :D

    Molli | Books and Whimsy

    ReplyDelete
  38. Anything by Kevin Brooks and Melvin Burgess. Now THOSE are authors that take risks.

    Oh, and Anne Cassidy and Marcus Sedgwick and Bali Rai.

    Book snobbery annoys me. Some of the best books I've ever read are YA.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have to stand and applaud this post. I can't even add anything to this list because YES! YES to all of it!

    ReplyDelete
  40. This is the best post ever, Gillian, and I concur with all your choices & have oh so many more I'd add since it has now been 3 years since you posted this and that's a lot of awesome new books.

    ReplyDelete

Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)