posted at Friday, June 6th, 2014 at 4:39 PM | Discussion Posts
Every month or so, it seems another critic comes out of the woodwork to bash either romance or YA, based on only a glancing association with these books. I know others have done posts like this (such as Gillian’s post), but I want to give my take on this, so I’m going to, because it’s my blog. Basically, I’ve been the judgmental prick in the past, and looked down on YA or romance, but I’ve matured and broadened my mind through extensive reading.
The problem here is that people who generally read the most Literary of fiction (capital L most definitely essential to my meaning and theirs) are sampling a couple of bestsellers and then dismissing an entire genre or age classification of books. That is insufficient evidence to judge anything. It would be like if I traveled to LA for two days, it rained on both, and I determined it ALWAYS rained in LA. Obviously, this would be an incorrect conclusion, as odds are those were the only days it rained there in the whole damn year. Studies need to be thorough. Before one can be critical of YA, one needs to read a substantial sample of books. Obviously reading hundreds would be ideal, but I’d say a researcher would need to read fifty at least in their entirety for their opinion to be of any worth on the matter. Also, let’s face it: picking solely from bestsellers isn’t the best way to find quality literature generally. I mean, hello, adult fiction, may I present James Patterson as your representative.
To be entirely clear, I’m not saying the bestsellers these YA-haters are reading and judging all of YA fiction based on are not entertaining. I loved Twilight when I first read it and it got me into YA. While I don’t love Cassandra Clare’s books or her business practices, her books are like crack and very compulsively readable. My point is, though, that they are not the sort that will impress Literary fiction guys, just like James Patterson wouldn’t. So here is my list of books I defy these YA-hating, Literary folks to read. Let them try to maintain their narrow-minded opinions of YA and children’s books when they realize that there are Literary gems for ALL age groups. These are the sorts of books where, even if you don’t enjoy them, objectively they are highbrow and impressive. I’m aiming in particular at books that are high concept and contain lush writing, since adult Literary fiction in my experience isn’t really about the plot.
As I’ve read a shocking amount of YA, I’m going to break these down further by genre, so you can target the judgmental YA skeptic in your life.
Juvenile/Middle Grade Titles
Don’t take the lesser number of titles here as a judgment of middle grade/juvenile fiction. I haven’t personally read as widely here, but there’s plenty of amazing stuff here too.
There are beautiful books for people of all ages. Why do I read books for young readers even though I’m an adult? Because they’re fucking amazing sometimes. There are a lot of favorites, which I one hundred percent believe are amazing books, that I don’t think would convert a literary snob; these are the ones I think have the best shot from what I can vouch for. Best believe that once you get in the door with these, then you start throwing more and more books at them until they’re suddenly in love with YA and don’t know what happened. MWAHAHA.
Remember to match the book to the person in question. Play to their favorites. Are they into DJing? This Song Will Save Your Life. What about Star Trek? Then give them Fair Coin. Classic bad horror movies? Grasshopper Jungle. Match a quality YA novel to the persnickety reader in your life who’s turned their nose up to YA and convert them into a believer! I firmly believe there is a YA, MG or Juvenile book out there for anyone who enjoys reading to love.