For our Young Adult Appreciation Month, we invited a few bloggers to guest post about Young Adult books. This week’s guest is Kristi, from The Story Siren blog, whom we chatted with about her YA reading. The Story Siren is a great YA blog with reviews interviews and the great “Books to Pine for” feature that has put many a book in our radars.
Without further ado, here is our Chat with The Story Siren
The Book Smugglers: Kristi, glad to have you here. Can you tell us why do you read and blog about YA books?
Kristi: I read because I love to do it. It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. It’s actually one of the only constants in my life. Which is a pretty remarkable thing. I’m not sure why I started reading YA. It isn’t something that I consciously chose to do. I didn’t walk into the library and head over to the YA section. Honestly I didn’t even know what a YA section was, let alone if they had one or not. Growing up there was never a prominent “YA” section. At least I never remember there being one. By the time middle school rolled around I was already reading adult novels, I wanted more to my stories than a sparkly world with an even more sparkly ending. My YA obsession started with Twilight. Yes, I’m one of those people, but I was one of those people that read it when it first came out. I’d always been a vampire fan, I read The Vampire Diaries the first time it was released, was an fan of the original Buffy, Anne Rice, The Lost Boys, etc… but there was something different. I felt a connection with the story, the characters, something caught my attention. So I tried something different, I picked up Dessen, Cabot, Anderson, Paolini, and discovered this world of awesomely written literature that I was missing.
Blogging on the other hand is a whole different story. I just wanted a way to keep track of all the books I read. To remember what it was exactly I thought about that book. My blog was never meant to be what it is today. But once I discovered that I wasn’t the only crazy person in the world, it was outstandingly liberating! The YA blogging community is so awesome. It’s a very supportive and helpful group, and I’m so honored to be a part of it.
The Book Smugglers: Why do you think YA books sell so well (as YA novels kick the pants off of genre fiction Speculative Fiction, in sales terms).
Kristi: Because it has universal appeal. Sure, it’s “aimed” at teens, but there are a ton of adults who enjoy reading YA and I’m one of them. There is something there that we all feel a connection with. On top of that, there are some fabulously talented authors in the world of YA literature. I admire their enthusiasm and passion.
The Book Smugglers: Where does the YA genre go from here – are these books the future of publishing? Does the boom continue, or is it a blip?
Kristi: YA is definitely the future of publishing. Worldwide YA novels are continuing to increase in book sales. Sure, it probably has a lot to do with the Harry Potter and Twilight phenomenon, but these two franchises are getting people to read. And those people are most likely going to continue to read. And like I said above, it has universal appeal. YA isn’t only for young adults!
The Book Smugglers: Do you think there are subjects that are inappropriate for the YA audience?
Kristi: No. Anyone that thinks teens are in this protective bubble that filters everything “bad” in the world is ignorant. Teens talk about and have sex. Teens talk about and do drugs and drink alcohol. Believe it or not teens even cuss! I’m not saying that those things should be glamorized, but to exclude them all together is unrealistic. And blaming and banning books because they include these things is ludicrous! I guarantee that there are teens that don’t read books that are still having sex and doing drugs… so what/who are they influenced by?
It’s a parents job to talk to and teach their teen about what is appropriate. It’s a parents job to sensor what they think their teen should be reading.
The Book Smugglers: What are your favorite YA books?
Kristi: I read so many books, it’s hard to have favorites. But I do have some that stick out in my mind:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
and I just recently read Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert and it was wow.
Thank you Kristi, for taking the time to chat with us!
Wanna join the discussion? What do YOU think: are there subjects that are inappropriate for the YA audience?
Sarah LaurenceAugust 10, 2009 at 4:43 am
Great interview! I’ll have to check out those books as the first on the list was my favorite YA too. Speak is amazing. I very much enjoy Kristi’s Story Siren blog.
AnnaAugust 10, 2009 at 7:43 am
Wonderful post! This last week I picked up Shiver, mostly based on what I read in Kristi’s review. I’m glad I did to, cause I really enjoyed the book. Since then I’ve added Lament to my TBR.
JanssenAugust 10, 2009 at 8:08 am
I agree with Kristi that there aren’t topics that are inappropriate, but there certainly are ways of dealing with those topics that are inappropriate.
I love that Sarah Dessen has characters that think about relationships and sex and drugs but that they aren’t made to be glamorous or without consequences.
RKCharronAugust 10, 2009 at 8:15 am
Thanks for a great interview Kristi & thanks for the book recommends.
I don’t think there is much that could be inappropriate for teens in literature, for if it deals with something that others may deem “inappropriate” where is that concern when it comes to the real life version that the literature refers to? *if that makes any sense* (ie Rape, incest, drugs, drinking, bullying, fitting in, excluding, sex, eating disorders, suicide, physical abuse, mental abuse, friendships, love, pregnancy, abortion, travel, etc *life basically*)
All the best to you and yours,
Sab H.August 10, 2009 at 8:34 am
Way to go Kristi!! I added all those books to my TBR! and I totally agree with you on the “inappropriate”.
Diana PeterfreundAugust 10, 2009 at 8:56 am
I don’t think there’s any subject in appropriate for teen literature. After all, it’s in their teens when most people read the greatest works of literature: Hamlet (murder, incest, madness, suicide), the Crucible (rape, child molestation, torture, lynch mobs), the Sun Also Rises (war, abuse, alcoholism, impotence)… teens are reading it in school.
I’m a fan of this quote, from Madeline L’Engle:
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
katiebabsAugust 10, 2009 at 9:18 am
For some reason when I see curse words in YA like the “F” word, it rubs me the wrong way. I can’t believe how much more YA I am reading now then I did when I was a wee youngin’.
ChristineAugust 10, 2009 at 9:59 am
Hi Kristi. Great post.
I have two daughters, 10 and 14, and I keep aware of what they are reading so I can be sure it is age appropriate and we can discuss any material which I feel they’d need guidance with. The age appropriateness part mostly pertains to my 10 year old. At this point, my 14 year old has the maturity to read just about anything she wants to now. Thankfully, she still likes to talk books with me, so I’m keeping abreast of what she’s exposed to.
I appreciate Diana Peterfreund’s comment above about the topics teens are exposed to in high school literature classes that teach the “classics.” Quite frankly, I find the social issues of those novels often more disturbing than most of the more contemporary novels a teen would find at the YA department of their library or bookstore.
I think most YA authors today are wonderfully in tune to the challenges and joys of being a young adult and with that, their stories are often both comforting and inspirational, even those that deal with tragedy.
L. Diane WolfeAugust 10, 2009 at 10:16 am
I like her answer about innapropriate subject matter. I’ve had a reviewer attack one of my stories because my book (Christian themed but SECULAR) allowed two unwed characters to sleep together. Now I do not glorify nor promote, and there’s certain issues I won’t touch, but if adults really think young people in high school or college NEVER experience premaritual sex or drink or whatever, then they are out of touch with reality. Besides, how are we supposed to show characters learning & growing if they start off perfect?
KMontAugust 10, 2009 at 11:25 am
Absolutely YES to it being the parent’s job on what to allow a child to read or not. I’m a strong advocate for parent’s being involved in their kid’s reading so I couldn’t agree more.
There are some wonderful premises in YA books. So much imagination and that much more material to serve us voracious readers. I have a few on my shelf and need to get to them, plus I need to add some more!
Thanks for cluing me into a blog I’d not been familiar with. Will be visiting Story Siren more in the future.
AmberAugust 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm
Great interview! I love Kristi’s blog and all the effort she puts into her reviews.
I’m like her, when I was a teen YA was didn’t really exist. I remember reading Sweet Valley and wondering why one of the twins didn’t just tell one another to eff off sometimes. I’m glad YA isn’t sheltered anymore because there are a lot of things I went through as a teen that are in books now. Back then I would have loved to read a character that was going through the same stuff as me.
Sheila DeChantalAugust 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm
Excellent review! That was a lot of fun to read! 😆 😀
BettyAugust 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm
Very interesting interview. I agree with you that it’s a paretns job to censor what they think their teen should read. As a parent, I recently reviewed a book called Rumor & Qix by author Kathleen S. Wilson. It’s about a strong, independent, female teen protagonist who follows her intuition, fights for what she believes in and who she loves, takes calculated risks and makes things happen. It has futuristic eco-fantasy elements, trying to imagine what the world might be like in the far distant future. I think may young teens will like the books you recommended above and this book including my daughter!