Edgy YA: Going Too Far?August 14, 2009 at 11:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
The thread on Absolute Write about too much YA being edgy has got me thinking. Have we reached a point where YA has become too edgy? Have some books crossed the boundaries? Do we now have too much “dark” YA literature on our hands? Just take a quick peek at some recent YA books and bestsellers, and the common themes are:
• Death/Suicide (Thirteen Reasons Why, If I Stay, Before I Die)
• Bulimia/Anorexia (Wintergirls)
• Imprisonment (The Boy Who Dared, Airman)
• Violence/Revenge (Living Dead Girl, Looks)
• Sex (there are too many!)
There was a time when the YA bookshelf only had novels about that hot football captain that you regularly dreamed about (don’t deny it), your annoying parents that didn’t understand you, and that all-important makeover. Those were key elements to a YA novel… so what changed?
Why are teenagers all of a sudden picking up such edgy books? Simple: they are not doing it all of a sudden. People are forgetting that edgy YA has been around for a very long time, since 1967 with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and beyond. The only thing that has changed is us. Yes, that includes you. The author of The Chocolate Factory, Robert Cormier, explains that “there are more books that deal with tough subjects, more honesty and more willingness to face reality. I also think books reflect the times we live in.”
It’s true. We are currently living with a terrible economy, a swine flu pandemic, and I still don’t have an outfit to next week’s party (okay, maybe I need to sort out my priorities). These books look at the issues and sometimes reflect the harsh realities of life. This may come to shock to parents, mainly mine, but we teens can handle it!
We are living in dark times, and therefore maybe leaning towards darker books. We are able to relate and share our grief with the characters. Things may be looking pretty bad, but I think these riveting books are able to give us an escape. The situations in edgy YA force us to think and question ideas we wouldn’t have come across with otherwise. You are able to go on this dark journey with the MC and explore themes that would probably give my grandmother a heart attack.
Edgy YA has been here for a long time, and I am happy to say that it is going to stay for a long time (or hopefully until we twifties can get all our edgy YA books published).
~Amna AKA GeekPride