Wednesday, September 29, 2010
First, let's tackle the boy problem. Hannah Moskowitz blogged about it at the end of July. Her post stirred up a lot of discussion on the topic.
A WSJ article by Thomas Spence (via Caren Estesen's Posterous) takes a look at raising boys who read.
And the blog Chasing Ray asks if boys will pick up a book with a bra on the cover.
Speaking personally, I agree with the simplicity of the post on Chasing Ray. The book, THE SECOND BASE CLUB sounds like a fun, boy-oriented read. Will a boy carry around a book with a bra on the cover? Probably not.
ETA: Here's an additional link from E.J. Wesley in the comments.
I don't know about you, but when I'm browsing in Borders, I don't see boys stalking the YA shelves like Edward Cullen stalking Bella. I've yet to see ONE guy in the YA section. There are boys in the MG section, but where are the YA boys? They're in the non-fic section, snatching up sports books, history books, biographies. They're in the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror sections. They're reading adult books, not books with bras and sparkly McVamp Pants on the cover.
Let's be honest. Walk through the YA shelves and see what the covers say to you. I'm going as far as to say (in my non-official study) that 90% of the covers have girls on the covers looking longingly at a guy, or appearing all confused and EMO over some paranormal thing going on in her life. (For the record, I love paranormal/Urban Fantasy) The books might be great, but if I were a teenage guy, I wouldn't go near the YA shelves on a bet with all the girly covers. And the covers are doing their job, aren't they? Reaching their target audience - TEEN GIRLS. So, why are we surprised that boys aren't swarming the bookstores for YA books?
ETA: What do you think the E-Reader culture will do for boys reading YA - will it bring more boys to the books without displaying the covers as they carry their device around?
I think the dystopian covers already out in the world (Hunger Games for example), and those to come, (Divergent by Veronica Roth) might do a lot to bring boys back into the fold of YA. Let's hope.
On to another hot topic - dead parents in YA. Lots of discussion going on about this as well. The Publishers Weekly article, The Ol' Dead Dad Syndrome, sparked blog posts, such as this one by Nathan Bransford.
Why is it that so many parents in YA are dead? Are YA authors channeling their inner Disney writers? Because, seriously, why does the mom always bite it in the beginning of Disney movies? Maybe it's the same reason YA authors do it - instant conflict and internal turmoil.
The question seems to be: Is having a dead parent (or parents) lazy writing?
The answer, in my opinion, is the same answer for any question about plot. If it's done well, it's not lazy writing. If it is done for a real reason that adds depth and dimension to the story, then it's not lazy writing. If it's done to get Mom and Dad out of the way so Suzie can have Sam spend the night - it might be a tad lazy.
It's impossible to lump all of the dead parent(s) in YA together and classify the authors as lazy writers taking the easy way out--or, the exact opposite, genius writers who explore the grieving process of young adults - you can't take this one out of context. Each book has to stand on its own and rely on its own merit. Just like anything else we write, it can work beautifully, or end up a hot mess.
Give us your thoughts, and any other links relating to boys reading YA, or dead YA parents in the comments.
Posted by Jamie Blair at 6:41 AM