i quit

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there has been some brouhaha on twitter regarding a lovely slate article that says adults should be embarrassed to read young adult novels.

“These are the books that could plausibly be said to be replacing literary fiction in the lives of their adult readers. And that’s a shame.”

you know what’s a shame? that it took me 3 weeks to read 50 pages of infinite jest because i canNOT get into that book. i have tried. it does nothing for me. that i cannot read anything written prior to 1900 because it just bores me to tears. literary fiction authors i do like? steinbeck and hemingway. o’brien. they write short sentences.

Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering.”

what is wrong with a satisfying ending? i hate that most stephen king novels are on the edge of unsatisfying at their ends. i gave “gone girl” 4 stars instead of 5 because of the crappy ending. i loved that “the goldfinch” actually managed to pull off a plausible, satisfying ending. on the other end, “the book thief” (YA) had a pretty unsatisfying ending. my mom does not read any book that doesn’t have a happy ending. she says, why waste her time.

But mature readers also find satisfaction of a more intricate kind in stories that confound and discomfit, and in reading about people with whom they can’t empathize at all. “

the only book i gave away because i hated it was because i hated every single character in the book. (the memory keeper’s daughter.) i have told people to stay away from it. now, there is something to be said for intricacies; “gone girl” is miles ahead of “divergent” when it comes to intricacies, and my brain likes to make the connections as they come. i could also argue that “looking for alaska”, YA, is more intricate than the “wool” series (adult novels) or a whole slough of romance novels.

the author lambasts “the fault in our stars” throughout the article because that’s the big movie coming out based on a YA novel. apparently she read it (probably against her will), and thought it was neat, trite, and eye-roll-inducing.

in the spirit of john green*, i leave her this:  “When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible,’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we ARE. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing.”

*author of TFioS, whose books i started reading while he was still underground. i’m hipster, y’all.

EDIT: OMG how could i forget to mention the MOST DISAPPOINTING ENDING TO A BOOK EVER, and it was a YA novel – mockingjay. take that, boring slate author.

3 thoughts on “i quit

  1. Jane

    For me, the underwritten assumption that adults read ONLY young adult novels was the most irritating. I read YA, plus a whole slew of “adult” books with 1000 pages in small type print. Some days my brain wants the simplicity of YA, and others it wants the complex characters and plot of adult.

    And the fact that it’s a shame we’re reading at that level? She should be glad we’re reading at all! The literacy rate is in the tubes, and it’s encouraging to see a genre pick at the interest of every age. If she’s ashamed of reading YA, she should stop reading it.

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