Friday, December 5, 2008

What really makes a book YA?

Since I've commented on 2 blogs already today about this issue, I felt the need to bring it up here.  There has been a lot of criticism of Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series because of the messages that it sends to young teenage girls--especially in the realm of healthy romantic relationships.  Regardless of what you think of her writing style, I think it is important to point out that SM originally wrote the book for herself and then tried to publish it for adults.  It was not until the publishing industry got involved that she was told that the book should be classified as Young Adult.   

It obviously appeals to a lot of YA females.  It appeals to a lot of Adult females.  Where do we draw the line, though, in what is appropriate for the YA audience?  I personally think that this book got classified as YA because it had little language and no blatant immorality.   

Is it the author's responsibility to classify the book or the publishing industry's?  Is it Stephenie Meyer's decision or her agent's or her publisher's?  or should we open it up to the national movie rating system's?  If I were rating the book like a movie, I would give it a PG-13 rating.  Does that mean then that it is appropriate for 13 year olds?  I'm just asking.  I'd love to hear what you all are thinking.

6 comments:

Grace said...

I couldn't say what the book should be rated, as it was too boring to read past the first few chapters. It just wasn't very appealing, too whiney for me.

beth said...

Here's my ideal publishing world: No labels! I think it's a silly idea to label books by age! As an adult, I always feel just a bit ridiculous that I need to go to the "kids" section in order to get decent books.

Justus M. Bowman said...

I can understand a publisher refusing to let an author write erotic material for children, but I'm not sure why one would refuse to put Twilight in the adult section.

Perhaps the publisher thought adults wouldn't have an interest in it? Vampires and romance are too childish. No one cares about that stuff anymore...

lotusgirl said...

I don't think it was a matter of refusing to put Twilight in the adult section, but rather them telling her (a newbie) that it should be classified as YA. She just went along with what those with more experience said (from the statements that she made on her website).

PJ Hoover said...

I heard an interesting perspective this weekend at a workshop. Cynthia Leitich Smith mentioned how much "louder" cuss words are on the page. Kids may use them all the time, but to put them actually on paper, one has to be way careful because they resonate so much more (and then parents won't buy them).
Ditto for all edgy issues, though really Twilight is majorly mild in comparison to some stuff.

lotusgirl said...

No kidding. Swear words are much louder on the page than when they are said. They strike me a lot harder. Is there a transcript from that workshop? I would like to hear what CLS had to say.

Yeah, I think Twilight is very mild compared to some things, and that's why I think the agent said it was right for the YA market. Language wise I think there have not been any problems as far as it being YA.

There have just been a lot of complaints about the "unhealthy" relationship that Bella has with Edward--people saying that is not what they want their young daughters seeing as the perfect relationship. I agree that it is not what I would want my daughter thinking is a great relationship, but it is fantasy, and I think even impressionable young girls realize that it is fantasy. They may wear shirts that say they love a fictional character, but they know he is not real.