Bored now

This one’s for Robin.

You know what I’m sick of?

People generalising about YA in the exact same way they generalise about teenagers.

“YA is innovative and amazing. I love it!”
“YA always has a moral and is simplistic and full of easy-to-read words and fast moving plots.”
“YA is the future of America!”
“YA is full of smut and filth and pollutes the minds of our children.”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Some YA books are shit. Some are brilliant. Some bore me. Some should never have been published. Some make me happy in a slightly guilty way. Some are the best thing I’ve ever read. Some really really aren’t. Some are simple. Some are complex. And some of them really piss me off.

Pretty much like adult books really.

Likewise teenagers are brilliant, stupid, smart, conformist, creative, challenged and challenging, bored, blissed out and any other adjective you care to think of. Sometimes all at the same time.

Much like adults really.

Why is that so hard to comprehend?


  1. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    Because adults never listen. *wink*


  2. Eliza on #

    I went to a young adult writing class where someone said that pets were a hallmark of ya novels.

  3. the dragonfly on #

    generalizing about anything makes me cranky.

  4. Patrick on #

    YA is full of innovating smut and amazing filth.

  5. sylvia on #

    The driving to generalize seems to be a compelling one. I’m sure it must have had some evolutionary utility, though I’m not sure what exactly.

    I even catch myself doing it sometimes. The other day my five-year-old hated me because she disapproved of her hairdo, and as I was cheerfully explaining to her that everybody feels that way sometimes, in my head I was thinking, I bet mums of five-year-old boys don’t have this problem!!

  6. maureen johnson on #

    Do you get tired from being right all the time?

  7. Lauren on #

    Having transferred my efforts from one much-generalized-about genre (science fiction) to another one (YA), I find myself constantly having to describe what I do using words like “on the other hand” and “but that’s not necessarily the case.” At heart, these classifications are little more than shelving strategies designed to get books into buyers hands. That these shelving strategies have a tendency to evolve into fully-formed subcultures is pretty interesting, if, at times, kind of strange.

    Then again, any time a seller of something tries to reach potential buyers by identifying (or creating) a market niche, subcultures have a tendency to evolve. Think: organic food, farmer’s markets, indy rock, apple computers. All of these things are essentially subcultures which evolved out of marketing categories. Am I overthinking this? Maybe I should get a job.

  8. claire on #

    i’ve had to finally reach the conclusion that … other people genuinely don’t remember what it’s like to be (a child or) a teenager. this was confusing to me because i remember it vividly. how could i forget? but the way other people talk about teenagers and YA, they MUST have blocked out their memories. seriously, i think that’s it.

  9. robin on #

    and this is why you are awesome!

  10. cuileann on #

    Heh. Thank you for your common sense and indignation.

  11. Hillary! on #

    Instead of generalizing shouldn’t people be happy that we are reading? You know, instead of watching T.V., playing video games, getting drunk, making babies, (sp?), etc. I think people should just be happy about that. Be happy that we’re reading books (even the trashy ones!), not perusing a gossip magazine, because sometimes the more you read the more you can differentiate between the good and the bad.

  12. Hillary! on #

    It’s not that people will only read one book and not another. Reading breeds more reading. When you finish one good book, you IMMEDIATELY NEED ANOTHER . . . and so the circle of life continues!

    Maureen Johnson said this. This is sooooooooooooooooooooooooo true!

  13. capt. cockatiel on #

    I get especially angry when people tell me that I’m “old enough” to stop reading YA and get into some adult books. Like YA is for those immature people out there who only want to read about people having sex and taking drugs. As if just because I am 15 and smart I am “too good” for the trivial young adult books being published.
    It’s double the horror, that. Generalizing the books while telling me that I shouldn’t even waste my precious time. Jeez.

  14. Rosalie on #

    Yeah! I hate it when people try to tell me what I can and can’t read! I don’t see a difference between adult and young adult lit, so why do my parents make a big fuss if I read adult? Stupid grown-ups. Once you have kids, your brain goes dead and hardwires to making life as hard as you can for your poor little baby.

  15. Katlin Seagraves on #

    Thank you for realizing that.

  16. Patrick on #

    Rosalie – it’s those first three years of changing diapers that burns out our brains. The rest is payback. Sorry. Circle of life and all that…

  17. Justine on #

    Rosalie & Patrick: You both made me laugh. Thanks!

  18. eek on #

    The title of this post had me laughing out loud, becuase when I read it I heard it in Willow’s sing-song voice from BtVS…

    As for the actual substance of the post, I think people crave order, and order is easier with generalizations. So, I think people who are less concerned about the reality or depth of any subject will tend toward generalizations, especially if those generalizations make them feel superior to others. (for example, I am so cool and enlightened because I recognize the value of YA literature and so I embrace and extol its virtues; or the flip side, I am so morally superior that I recognoze that all of these YA books are filth masquerading as literature, designed to corrupt young minds…) You get the picture.

    It’s easier to have a morally superior position if you gloss over the subtleties that might disprove your premise and go for the generalization.


  19. Justine on #

    eek: The title of this post had me laughing out loud, becuase when I read it I heard it in Willow’s sing-song voice from BtVS.

    That is no coincidence.

  20. eek on #

    LOL – I assumed it wasn’t – still, thought it deserved a nod of appreciation. :}


  21. Justine on #

    It is my favourite line from Buffy and I confess I use it way too often.

  22. Carbonel on #

    Eh… then why is it so much easier to find Book I Like to Read in the teen-to-children’s section?

    Have you read Diana Wynne Jone’s essay in Shetterly’s Medusa about why she prefers to write for young people? (Link here,if you have not:

    I think she’s on to something, myself, and there is a (general) difference. Though (of course) ndividual titles may vary, as individuals so often, do.

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