Tag Archives: YA

My Top 15 YA of 2010!

10 Nov

I haven’t updated my blog in FOREVER and for that I am truly sorry. Life has become so hectic – I have my paws in so many baskets these days that it’s hard to keep track of everything, and unfortunately my writing and my online life has suffered.

I wanted to at least give my faithful blog readers something to read before the craziness that is Christmas engulfs me completely, and when I saw the lovely Kate Gordon’s blog post about her top 20 YA novels of the year, I thought, “now there’s a blog post I can do quite easily.”

Trying to think of all the fabulous YA novels I’ve read this year, though, is considerably more difficult than first thought (and I cut it to 15). So I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, as this year has been such a whirlwind I hardly remember what I ate for dinner last night, little own what I read in March that gave me the chills (the good kind).

So, in no particular order…

1. Torment by Lauren Kate.

2. Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James.

3. Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe.

4. Big River Little Fish by Belinda Jeffrey.

5. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. *

6. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick.

7. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto.

8. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

9. Elixir by Hilary Duff.

10. Willow by Julia Hoban.

11. Stolen by Lucy Christopher.

12. Alone: Chasers by James Phelan.

13. This Is Shyness by Leanna Hall.

14. Splendor by Anna Godbersen.

15. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater.

*Technically I haven’t read this book yet, as it’s due out soon, but I enjoyed the first novel in the series so much that I’m sure it’ll make my top 15. Positive.

What are your top YA reads of the year?

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Literary Censorship: On a Soapbox

23 Sep

This post has been brewing in me for a while. I didn’t want to write it angry, because then I tend to yell and come across as this crazy person who stands on her soapbox and shouts to force others to listen – anyway. So I waited until I was calmer, until I could get my point across clearly and without too much finger-pointing.

I should start by saying that this post isn’t about Ellen Hopkins at all, though it was the censorship of her books that spurred this post.

Ellen is a great advocate for YA literature that is a little left-of-centre, a little out-of-the-box, and since that’s where my literary interest lies, I have great respect for her as an author. I will admit that her books aren’t for everyone: they deal with very sensitive issues, and I get why some people are offended by them, why they don’t want their children to read these novels, why they think these books shouldn’t be available for just anyone on the shelves – I get it.

But this post isn’t about Ellen or her books (which, for the record, I adore). It’s about the censorship.

I’m going to use an analogy here. I’m going to use Vampire Diaries because, quite frankly, I’m obsessed with the show, and want any excuse to talk about it. Here in Australia, Vampire Diaries occupies an 8:30pm time slot. Back when I was a young teen, I was in bed by then. Most teens these days, however, are not, so they can access shows like Vampire Diaries (and other perhaps more risque shows that are on in a similar time slot), with sex and violence and issues that the younger end of the YA scale shouldn’t necessarily be subjected to. Yet we let our children watch shows with sex and violence and adult-type issues and we don’t really bat an eyelid about it.

Enter the controversial YA novel. It has sex. It has violence. It has issues that we perhaps don’t want our young teens to read about – drugs, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse – the list is endless. They’ve seen all this stuff with their own eyes in movies and on television shows. It looks real. They’re accustomed to it. Yet reading a novel with all this stuff they’ve already been exposed to in it is suddenly not acceptable.

We don’t want our kids to read books that explore the darker side of teen life; of life in general.

We don’t want our kids to be able to hire these books from a library.

We want to ban these books in case someone else’s child reads them and corrupts our children.

If you don’t want your child to read certain things, that’s fine – I understand. We’re all different and we’re all raising our children differently. I don’t hold you not wanting your child to read Ellen’s books – or books of a similar nature – against you. I really don’t. But don’t stop everyone else’s child from reading these “controversial” books just because you’ve decided your child can’t. That’s all I’m saying.

I know I’m probably not making my point very eloquently – forgive me. But I hope, in all of that rambling mess, you were able to see where I was coming from. Because it isn’t about Ellen’s books at all. It’s about the double-standard in the industry, and the cruel message that we’re sending to our authors: that’s it’s not okay to write these types of books, to write from the heart. That it’s not okay to write something that doesn’t have a happy ending or teaches teens that the world can be a dark place.

That it’s not okay to put a piece of our soul on a page – unless it’s a socially-accepted piece of our soul.

The New ‘Young Adult’

7 Mar

Recently I mentioned that I was taking part in YA author Steph Bowe’s month of guest posts on her wonderful blog, Hey, Teenager of the Year! For those who haven’t yet seen my post appear on Steph’s blog, I’ve cross-posted it here for my blog followers to read and comment on, should they wish it.

Nothing is too filthy for young adults as long as you treat the characters and situation with respect. This was just one of the many gems of advice I received during a recent Young Adult Lit Chat via Twitter, and one I thought summed up my dilemma best.

I’m a twenty-something so you’d think given my age I wouldn’t have a problem knowing what can and can’t be written into a novel for today’s teens. Wrong. I feel so out of touch that I may as well be a sixty-something trying to write about teen issues of today while reminiscing about my fifties childhood.

But it’s not as tough as I think. While I’m tapping away on the keyboard stressing about the scene I’m writing – How many expletives is too many? Is it okay to have a teen masturbate on the page? Will my blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sex scene have to be cut during the edits because it’s simply “too much?” – I’m forgetting one fundamental thing. Times have changed.

The YA genre has been pushed wide open in recent times. Teens are no longer only reading books like Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers’ series or Emily Rodda’s fantastical world of fantasy – books I grew up with and fell in love with in my day. Now they’re reading about death and drugs and sparkly vampires with insatiable appetites. And sex. Today’s issues no longer only revolve around having enough money for the tuckshop or who’s sleeping over whose house this weekend; there’s added issues about losing one’s virginity and recreational drug-taking and underage drinking, and they’re no longer taboo.

I remember reading a series of books when I was thirteen (and I can’t even remember what the books were called now) about high school students and a brutal murder where a young girl’s body was shoved into a locker. I remember being horrified and wondering what my parents would think if they’d known I was reading these books. I’d hired them from the school library: my name was on the cardstock, immortalised in ink, so there would be no question that I’d hired them, read them. If my parents knew they never said anything, but at the time I couldn’t quieten the voice in my head that told me I shouldn’t be reading them. I was too young to be reading such things, it said. Maybe I was just a prudish parent before my time, or maybe I just liked the thrill of reading something I thought my parents would disapprove of – typical teenage rebellion in literary form.

Whatever the reason, thinking about those books now and what was in them – death, murder, minimal gore by today’s standards – makes me blush. Not because they were so terrible, but because teens today would probably wonder what the fuss was about and think them tame.

The times have changed. The boundaries in YA literature have been re-drawn, and what was considered inappropriate even ten years ago is no longer considered so today. I’d almost go as far as to say that anything goes when it comes to writing for this generation of young adults. I just have to remember one thing: whatever the situation, it has to be treated with respect.