Monday, October 28, 2013

The Deplorable State of Young Adult Fiction

It seems that every month brings another article about how terrible books for young adults are. I won’t link to any of these articles, but you’ll find some if you do a Google search. They argue that YA books are full of violence and profanity and abuse and bullying and sex and drugs and suicide and cancer. YA fiction is frighteningly dark, and it’s harmful to kids.

The articles all have something in common: they’re wrong. *

YA lit is so good right now. I’ve read a lot of great, inventive, passionate, mind-expanding novels in recent years that were marketed towards teenagers. And to be clear, YA lit is not a genre – it encompasses everything from realistic literary fiction to science fiction to fantasy to mystery; often YA books blend genres in intriguing and startlingly original ways.

Sure, some YA books are dark. Some of them aren’t dark. Some of them deal with scary issues. Some of them are lighthearted stories about kids making friends and doing fun things. Even the darkest books are often stories of resilience and survival; the tone is uplifting, rather than depressing.

If you're interested in what's hot in YA literature, click here for a guide to the library's YA books.

And here is list of YA books we loved. (That is to say, we didn’t just examine these books and say, “Ah yes, a teen might enjoy this.” We read them ourselves, and loved them.)

Give one a try, and see what you think about the state of YA fiction.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Feed by M.T. Anderson

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by David Levithan and John Green 
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson 
Sprout by Dale Peck
The Bekka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

* For more about why they're wrong, see this excellent essay by Sherman Alexie. 

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