The Dark Side of YA


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Josin L. McQuein said...

Kids live in a dark world; they deal with dark things.

Fiction is usually an exaggerated version of reality, so for it to relate to a modern teen, a certain amount of "edge" and "darkness" is going to be necessary. But something that's easy to overlook when considering the darkness of YA fiction is that, in most cases, the MC will eventually find his/her (usually her) way through it into a better place on the other side.

That's not depressing, it's hopeful, and it lightens the real world by comparison. After reading a few YA novels, I think you get into a mindset of "how will they make this better", because you come to expect that things will improve. You only notice the darkness as it relates to the coming light.

Michelle said...

GREAT link and discussion!

To be a total opinionated bitch, I'm a little miffed how the only 'dark' in YA seems to be relegated to dystopian - I'm a little sick of it being glorified as the only dark YA genre. I love dystopian! I really did! But all this dystopian is making me clamber for some fresh air.

Dark can be any YA, you know?

cyndydrew said...

GREAT thread. A couple of the points that were made riled me up and onto my schools-suck soapbox, so look out:

"In our current media-saturated lives, however, every single awful thing that happens anywhere is pressed upon us in full-color, live-action images, both instantaneously and repetitively. In order for a book to seem scary today, it has to be very scary indeed."

SO true. In addition to the news, teachers are competing with the appeal, the color and action and scintillation of BET, MTV, Grand Theft Auto, and porn, seriously. That's what the kids are acclimated to. And we expect them to sit still and memorize vocabulary from The Iliad? C'mon, man!

And meanwhile, we put a gun to their heads in the form of "a world of tests that humiliate and unnerve them"...tests, by the way, that hold the students' fate in their blue bubbled "hands." Tests that are nearly impossible to succeed on unless you are that rarified dork who reads as much as Suzie Townsend does.

In sum, our schools need to get their heads out of their butts and TEACH IN A WAY THAT ENGAGES KIDS!

Our public schools?