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Category Archives: Ranty Blogger

Language: cursing in YA books.

So, apparently earlier this week there was quite the debate on BBC Breakfast between authors GP Taylor and Patrick Ness over whether books should require ratings, much like movies. On one side of the debate was GP Taylor who is very much in favor of this and on the other side is Patrick Ness who adamantly opposes the idea.

I’m in full agreement with Patrick Ness, I don’t believe publishers should be required to label books with ratings (apparently over 800 authors agree as well, according to a petition signed on this website). I don’t think the ratings system works all that well for movies and I could see it being even worse for books. However, reading the debate triggered a thought I had while reading Miranda Kenneally’s debut novel, what about using cursing in YA books?

Her book, Catching Jordan, focuses on a female quarterback (you can read my review) and one thing that stood out for me while reading was an excessive use of foul language. It was jarring to me because it’s not often you find a teen book with multiple instances of the f-word and it took me out of the story for a moment when I came across it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-cursing in general. In fact, if you’ve ever met me in real life (or happened to play against me in an online video game) you’d know that I curse like a sailor, pretty much all the time. I like it, it’s fun and it usually gets my point across (I do keep my fouled language to myself around preachers, small children and grandmas). Yet, when I’m reading a YA book (or even an adult book for that matter) it’s not necessarily something that I want to see a lot of, even though I’m well aware that teenagers do curse. And some of them do it quite a lot.

After a lot of thinking about whether I was being overly sensitive or overreacting, I came to a conclusion. If the cursing has a direct impact on the story, I’m on board with it being included. A good example of this that I was able to come up with was Holden Caulfield in Catcher and the Rye, he cursed a lot, but it was a part of who he was as a character. If you took it out, his character would feel different and he would come across differently to the reader. Removing the foul language would have an impact on the overall story.

If the cursing doesn’t have a direct impact on the story or character, then I don’t really need to see it. For example, in Catching Jordan, if you’d taken out the curse words from the dialogue you still would’ve had Jordan. She would have acted the same, talked the same and responded to situations in the same manner. Removing them wouldn’t have had any impact on her character, or how the reader sees her character. And so the words simply felt superfluous to me.

Pretty much, my thoughts are if anything doesn’t move your plot along, or help develop your characters, you should cut it out. If that same something helps deepen the plot or display/develop certain trait your character has, then by all means leave it in. Regardless of what that something is.

And then let individuals decide what books they want to read without subjecting them to a reviews boards stuffy ratings. 🙂

 

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Sunday Roundup: Articles, Giveaways and Blogs to follow!

Articles to check out:

It’s no secret that I spent a lot of time on the internet. I suspect that all bloggers do, because if we didn’t spend a lot of time on the internet, we’d have no interest in blogging. Or, so my theory goes. It could be completely bananas, wouldn’t be the first time.

Anyway! Here are the links and other misc. things that I found to be interesting this week:

Ray Bradbury on Doing What You Love and Reading as a Prerequisite of Democracy @ BrainPickings
Or, “What the the love of libraries has to do with going home to Mars and the foundation of democracy.”

Really Good Books About History: Part One @ The Hairpin
I’m a history nerd (minored in it in college) and so this list has me stocking up my Amazon cart and it’s going to be disastrous for my wallet. I’m especially excited about Inferno, by Max Hastings as I am a WWII nut and I have decided that i NEED this book.

The Ongoing Problem of Race in Y.A.
In their weekly series Y.A. For Grownups the Atlantic Wire takes a look at how far we’ve come with in terms of racial diversity in books and why we still aren’t all the way there.

YA Lit: Real Diversity or Coffee-Colored Characters?
And then over at BlogHer they look at what racial diversity in books doesn’t mean.

Giveaways:

Q&A with Aimée Carter and Goddess Interrupted Giveaway: Check out YA Reads for a chance to win Goddess Interrupted by Aimée Carter!

Over at Mostly Ya Book Obsessed check out the interview with Elizabeth Norris, author of Unraveling, and sing up for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Book Stacks on Deck is reviewing and giving away a copy of Going Under by Georgia Cates. It’s a book self published by the author and I love giving indie novels some love!

And lastly over at Beth Revis‘ blog you can be entered to win a ARC copy of The Forgetting Curve and read an interview with the author!

Blogs to Checkout:

The Housework Can Wait Lauren’s blogging over at THWCW is hilarious, insightful, and just plain fun to read. If you’ve got a free moment you should definitely check her blog out!

The Pretty Good Gatsby Leah balances good reviews with interesting content and her blog is definitely a must read for me!

What articles were you reading this week? Do you know of any fun giveaways or blogs I should check out? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

A look at “Instalove” in YA books.

I’ll admit it, I’m not the best at keeping up with other blogs. BUT! I am trying to get better about seeing what other book bloggers have to say about blogging and books in general. So I often spend my lunch break clicking links (occasionally falling down rabbit holes) and generally discovering awesome content by others in our community.

With that said, I came across a fantastic post from Stephanie over at the Cuddlebuggery Book Blog. The post was “Shit I’m Sick of Reading Part 2” and in it Stephanie discusses her hate of “Instalove” in YA books. I’ve been formulating a post on this same topic for a while now and it was great to see another blogger discussing her thoughts on this plot device (and do it so magnificently).

I do tend to find the idea of “Instalove” in the YA genre (and other genres for that matter) rather grating and at times obnoxious. This usually happens when the main character meets an incredibly attractive guy (with his hair flopping over his forehead just so) in the book, they share a cute moment and are then instantly FOREVER IN LOVE with each other.

In a lot of those cases I find myself mentally quoting that line from between Keanu Rivers and Sandra Bullock in speed Speed. You know, the one where Jack says to Annie, “I have to warn you, I’ve heard relationships based on intense experiences never work”. And I want to yell this exact phrase at these characters and maybe suggest they base it on sex instead (I’m totally kidding on that), except the characters can’t hear me and the authors probably don’t want to listen.

As an adult in my extremely late 20s (I refuse to think of myself as anywhere close to thirty) I find myself eye-rolling when i see “instalove” occurring in a novel I’m reading. As adults we know this is not how good, solid relationships form. We know that while you’d like to close the book and think they lived happily ever after, the truth is they probably left for college, someone did something stupid and broke the others heart. This was then closely followed by a bitter breakup ( I’m not projecting here, I swear).

However much the idea of “instalove” annoys adult-me, I’ve got to admit that I do see where it comes from and why the authors use this plot device in YA novel after YA novel.

It’s because it actually happens.

I know, you’re snorting in disbelief now (I would be too, honestly), but hear me out. I’ve spent the past few years working with teenagers and they are quite possibly the most dramatic and exhausting group of people on the planet (not that I’m telling you anything you didn’t already know). These kids really do the “instalove” thing and to them they don’t realize how crazy or unrealistic it actually is. They met a guy, go on a date (or make out at a party or a football game) and the next day they are telling me how much they love him and how perfect they are together. I even saw one of these girls planning her future WEDDING to a boy she just met a MONTH ago. Forget Prom, she was going all out and shooting for the stars there.

I sat there and watched this play out, trying desperately not to laugh or launch into the lecture about love and maturity that was already writing itself in my head. Instead I smiled and nodded at pictures of dresses

So, while I am still in total agreement with Stephanie that the entire idea of “instalove” makes me feel a little like tossing the book down in frustration, it really is rooted in the behaviors of the teenagers in our society. And that thought terrifies me a bit.

I’ll leave you with this super awesome gif Stephanie included in her original post (and that I’ve seen reblogged countless times on Tumblr) just cause it’s funny and relevant:

 
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Posted by on 27 April, 2012 in Ranty Blogger

 

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Sunday Roundup: Book Articles from around the Web

This past week here were quite a few interesting articles posted around the web discussing books and reading. Here are a few that stood out and caught my eye:

The Good:
Tamora Pierce on ‘Twilight,’ Girl Heroes, and Fantasy Birth Control” by Alyssa Rosenberg over at The Atlantic (part of their 4 part series on the YA genre).
My favorite part of this article is where she talks about Twilight saying “I don’t know if the books are garbage or not, but what I hear from my fans is they’re simply appalling.”. I couldn’t agree more!

How to Make Young Adult Fiction More Diverse” by Kate Linnea Welsh over at The Atlantic (part of their 4 part series on the YA genre).
This is a fantastic look at how the trend in YA leans towards mostly white and straight characters. The article looks at a few authors who are working to change that and I support them whole-heartedly.

The Bad:
VS Naipaul finds no woman writer his literary match – not even Jane Austenby Amy Fallon over at the Guardian.
VS Naipaul has cemented his place in the history of literature as a arrogant, misogynist idiot. I don’t care if you’ve won a Nobel prize, I have no desire to ever read your work now.

The Ugly:

Darkness Too Visible” by Meghan Cox Gurdon over at the Washington Street Journal.
The article states that”Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity” and asks why is this a good idea? As a (future) librarian I simply can’t get behind this way of thinking. It’s appalling and degrading to teens.