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YA: Can We Move Past Twilight and Juno?

I'm not going to say YA is broken -- it's flourishing in too many ways for that -- but then why is it annoying the shit out of me?




It's entirely possible I just had a sheltered reading life, but I honestly don't remember there being Books for Teens when I was a teenager. And this wasn't like 1974, thank you, it was the turn of the millennium. And it's GOOD that we have these books now. Whether naturally occurring or formed by society, the concept of teenagerdom is real and it's a group that needs a literature to relate to. And not a Bobbsey twins-type literature (good Lord, I love the Bobbsey twins). Teenagers are full of hormones and weirdass feelings and a sense of being constantly misunderstood and are starting to become who they'll be (BUT, I caution any teens reading this, they are still light years from that person). They need books that reflect and help with that.


But. When your primary themes are supernatural romance (okay) or two smartasses who like really obscure music, I want to punch you right in the face. Let's make some sweeping generalizations and say that supernatural romance is for the dumber teens and the smartass kids are for the smartasses. I'm not saying one never reads the other, but overall, yes? Okay. So the dumber ones have their stupid ideas about male/female roles reinforced (the man is so brooding! what? no, he has a right to be an asshole, because he has MANPAIN he's dealing with, or it's all for her protection -- he's upset because she's trying to be too independent and he can't protect her WHY WON'T SHE LET HIM PROTECT HER). 


And the smartasses become even more annoying by having their notions reinforced that they're 1) smarter than all the adults in their lives (occasionally true, but they're still teenagers with zero life experience) and that 2) if they use elevated language and wry humor, they are being awesome. EHHHH. WRONG. You are fulfilling a trope, and it's an exasperating one by now.

Can someone write realistic teens? I know it's being done in some corners, but overall it's JUST. THESE. TWO. OPTIONS. Someone give me teenagers who don't know what the fuck they're doing, because that's teenagerdom. Here's what was going on when I was a teen: I was ridiculously insecure. I fought with my parents all the time. I thought I knew everything. Which sounds like a cliche because it's true for almost every teenager ever. But with these books -- ESPECIALLY the smartass books, it's rarely "They think they know everything, but of course it's really painfully evident they don't."


I remember being embarrassed for my high school history teacher because he couldn't remember the correct date for Elizabeth I's coronation. But then I remembered 'Oh yeah, he knows more about EVERY OTHER AREA OF HISTORY THAN I DO.' Teenagers suck. I'm not saying the literature should be saying they suck, but it definitely shouldn't be validating their feelings of smug awesomeness.





So. Realistic teen lit. It exists. It should be written more. Stop using the John Green and Stephenie Meyer models. It's annoying as hell.

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