Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Young Adult Fiction and Whether You're Too Old For This Sh*t

For those of you who eschew reading entirely for Hollywood bombardment and suckle at EA's udder, you might have missed out on the back and forth debate raging about Young Adult fiction that took bloggers by storm. My understanding is that it started over Ruth Graham's article for Slate, "Against YA"

So here's my take on it.

I don't give a f*ck what you read. I really don't. I have no qualms about it. And I too have read, and honestly reread some of my treasured Young Adult roots. I'm only twenty-two for christ's sake, so I'm not that far removed yet. But here's the biggest thing I'm noticing in the defense of adults reading YA, 'Live and Let Read,' which is great, and I don't care, and the other is, 'It allows me to connect with my kid,' good for you. BUT.

I remember being a kid. I read things like Pendragon by DJ MacHale and The Mad Scientist Club, and even Winnie the Pooh. Loved these books and I still appreciate and love the part they played in my life. Then something happened. My father, a college English professor, handed me an adult book for the first time. He'd been paying attention to the kinds of YA books I was falling in love with, and found the adult equivalent. I fell head over heels. It was amazing and I loved it. More than a decade later, books are one of the few areas of life that we still really can let lose and talk about together without going for the jugular. Here's the thing though, I'm on his level now, and instead of pandering to my age-range, he and I are equals. 

So back to YA people who read for pleasure and enjoyment. I had the same negative reaction to the Lego Movie. It was fun, clever, well made, and for the little bit of theme it was broaching (if not fully realizing) I can think of half-a-dozen adult equivalents that deal with the topics better, more directly, and more deeply. So it's not that I have any problem accepting that adults make the occasional foray into YA ... it's that it seems they live there. That's creepy to me. It's like Bronies. "It's got a great message, mang!" is the rallying cry. 

Sure it does. That's the point of most kids' shows. So did Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and while I used to dress up in costume and yell, "Tyrannosaurus" in a voice that sounded closer to Matt Damon from Team America than I'd like to admit, in my early twenties, that it so not the way I want to self-identify. It's a diluted form of the world, devoid of the rich complexity that starts to hit you in your early twenties and beyond, and maybe it's because I come from a fantastically shitty childhood, but I grew past the rose tinted glasses fast. Give me the unanswering universe, utterly void of purpose or meaning every day of the week. I personally can't relate to YA anymore, nor can I imagine, why anyone would want to. 


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