Monday, January 9, 2012

In Which I Talk About Death, Sex, and Love Triangles in YA Books

I just finished Bloodrose by the lovely Andrea Cremer and it got me thinking about a thing or two.  The YA genre has been targeted lately because of the misconceptions that some people have about what the books are about and some of the content in them.  I am a teenager, which is the direct audience publishers and such are trying to reach with their ads covers and other publicity ideas, but I am also a blogger and a person who has very strong opinions about things that matter to me.  Books matter to me.  Today I've decided to talk about three things (because I really love when things come in threes) that come up in YA literature.  Death, sex, and love triangles with a little bit about fandoms and how people treat others inside them.

First, death.  Readers get very attached to characters (myself included) and can get rather emotional when they die.  I think that sometimes people forget that in books, just like in real life, people die.  Most characters in fantasy series are struggling against some sort of life or death situation, and they generally have friends with them to help.  I know that we all wish that everyone we love in a book could end up alive, but that's not how real life works, so that's how fiction must work as well.  In my mind a book with fighting but no casualties in it isn't a good book at all, because that is not how war works, and anyone who has ever read a history book knows that as well.  Just like everyone else I'm sad to see a character die but at least in most cases someone has to die.  It's sad but it is life and to make the story as real as possible sometimes characters have to die.  No one and nothing is immortal (even those that appear to be in our favorite books) and when it comes down to it some things just must end a certain way.

Second, sex.  Sex and drugs have been a huge issue in YA books lately but if you think about it sex is generally a part of life at one point or another.  Teenagers are at their sexual prime with all of those hormones raging in their body.  It's also been scientifically proven that people who know more about sex and the consequences are more likely to be careful and things are going to be planned. In terms of rape and or sexual abuse you also have to remember that things like that happen in real life ALL the time. As much as we would love to block out that part of the world and pretend that it doesn't exist that does not make it go away.  The more people know about things the easier it can be to stop unwanted consequences.  Some parents want to shy their children away from things like sex and drugs in life, we as Americans think of it as something rather dirty, even just the thought of seeing it on TV is terrifying, but in other countries things like that aren't censored at all. Thousands of pieces of art were based off of intimate relationships between two people.  If you are mature enough to understand the consequences of your actions you are mature enough to read about them.  If you don't like them, don't read them, it's as simple as that.

Third, love triangles.  Love triangles are a big thing in literature, the idea that two very attractive males (or females) are fighting over you (let's face it, we all wish we were a character at least once in our life, most of us more) is highly appealing.  In my mind though there is always only one answer.  I know there are people out there who always root for the underdog, and I'm all for the underdog, but in a book there is really never any doubt over who the main character will choose.  Let's look at one that almost everyone knows or has heard of at one point or another, Bella-Edward-Jacob.  Yes I know, Twilight is highly overdone and talked about to the point where most people can't stand it (although I enjoyed it, and I am not afraid to say that I enjoyed it.  It was the book that got me reading for fun again, and even though it's not the best book out there it doesn't deserve all of the bad publicity people give it just because of some reason that no one really is clear about).  I know there were people who were Team Jacob and there were people who were Team Edward, but was there really any question about who Bella would choose in the end? For me there was never ANY question about it.  Edward was always the one that she would pick, and she would pick him again and again.  Yes, there were people who didn't like this but seeing as this was how it was written there is no way to change it and if all of you Team Jacob people look back did you really think Jacob had a real shot at winning Bella?  If you think about it that answer is no, and in my mind that's the way it is with all love triangles.  You may want things to be different, but 90% of the time they end up with the person that was always expected.

Last but not least that leads me to people who talk smack about things.  No, not people (but that's not nice either), I'm talking about books and fandoms.  Twilight has gotten a lot of hate, and while I admit it's not my favorite series anymore there is a reason people liked it.  I'm guessing that over 70% of the people who now bash it are the same people who liked it to begin with.  And what's with all the author hate?  An author decides to write another book in a series, to continue the story of our favorite characters, why should we get mad at them?  If you don't like the series or think they're in it just for the money then don't buy or read the book.  It's that simple.  How would you feel if you spent a good chunk of time working on something that you hoped would make people happy, you spend months slaving away on it, only to be met with people bashing you for various reasons that are most likely untrue to begin with?  I know I wouldn't like it very much.  As for character hate, they're fictional people for God's sake, how on Earth does that require any type of animosity?  They. Are. Not. Real.  If you are taking things that happen to characters that seriously you should probably take a step back and think about what's going on.

So that's it for now, that's my two cents.  I'll probably do more posts like this in the future but for right now that's all I have.  I apologize if I seem to have disappeared but finals start in the next two weeks and it's very important that I don't fail any.  I do promise to update as much as I can and read as much as I can in the time being.  Let me know if you have anything you would like me to talk about and feel free to give your opinions on what I had to say in the comments.