Adult vs. Teen Fiction

So in an effort to check out the competition, and to procrastinate (I’ll admit it), I have been reading a large volume of young adult books.  Some have been published by the NY publishing houses and others are indie authors on Amazon.  Something I’ve come to realize in my reading is that the big name publishers backing a book does not make it good, and the indie self-published books are not necessarily tripe.  It is hit or miss on both fields, but the odds are high in the favor of strike outs, generally speaking.

I’ve bought a number of books because their covers were fantastic, the synopsis intriguing, only to crack it open and realize after two chapters or so that I have been had.  Bad.

I was a teenager once and I don’t remember being some insipid, whiny, crap-for-brains boob that seems to be the prevalent protagonist of so many of these books.  I also read adult books from middle school on, for the most part.  Awesome fantasy like that of L’Engle and C.S. Lewis I read earlier.  Sort of like my eight-year-old reading the Harry Potter series right now.  By the time I got to seventh grade I was pilfering from my father’s collection of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  Sidney Sheldon rocked my world.  They were action packed with just the right amount of blood and guts, and no lack of sexual situations.  I’m still a sucker for something that moves fast with a slice of romance stuck in there.  And I can’t imagine I was the lone teen who read that stuff.  In fact I know I’m not.

Teens read adult books, too.  And adults read teen books.  I love them (if they’re done right).  But it seems that so many people writing for teens these days must think that they are vacuous, self-centered, label fixated pieces of fluff.  Don’t get me wrong, some of them might be, but those teens probably aren’t reading much anyway.  And there is guaranteed a certain amount of that cruddy stuff in everyone, but that is in no way all that makes up the average teen, is it?  Can’t some of these YA authors give them a little credit for having an ounce of depth?

I recently read a book that shall remain nameless that had so much detail about hand holding and whether the hand holding that happened was “real” or just a sign of reassurance from the love interest.  Really?  Hand holding?  I hadn’t thought that much about the details and possible implications of hand holding since being forced to do it in gym class for square dancing in, like, sixth grade.  And this was supposed to be a modern sixteen year-old obsessing over holding hands.  Are you joking?

Now, please don’t think that I am a proponent of graphic sex in teen novels.  Heck no.  Save that for the adult books that your teens will be slipping out of your room when you are out.  But I do think that a dose of reality is needed.  I guess fluff sells, but for me personally, I am really sick of buying it.


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