Book Geek Wednesday: The Evolution of Young Adults

While cashiering at B&N one morning last week, a customer brought up the Faerie Queen books by Maggie Stiefvater. I was pretty thrilled, since Lisa and I have excitedly talked about them and although Lisa has beat me to reading Shiver (it’s been on my radar for quite a while) it’s definitely still high up on my reading list.

Anyway, while chatting with the customer I easily volunteered that I’d been wanting to read Lament for quite some time, even before I’d heard of Shiver. She said the reason she was picking up the Faerie series was because she’d bought Shiver for her daughter, who is 12 years old, and upon reading it herself, found that there was *SPOILER ALERT*a sex scene. Granted, we’re not talking erotica or anything. Likely it was a PG-13 movie type scene (Lisa would probably be able to better tell us, as she’s the one who read it). Of course, this disturbed the customer as a parent because although she enjoyed the book for herself, she didn’t think her twelve year old was ready to read something like that.

I found that comment interesting, since we’ve been talking about crossover fiction and its appeal. These books are clearly marketed to teens, but how young is too young for some of this material? I know around this time last year, a father brought the Gossip Girl series back into the store, wanting to return them. He’d bought them for his daughter before he had any real idea what they were about. Let’s just say he was less than thrilled with the content.

Of course, it’s important to note that kids nowadays are growing up much faster than in my day. Teen pregnancy is on the rise, so they obviously know a thing or two about sex, though they’re not well educated in protection and contraception. Does the recent acceptance of on the page sexuality (meaning no longer vaguely implied, but not necessarily graphically shown) promote sex to younger audiences or is it simply mirroring what teens already know?

And this isn’t the only book I’ve heard a few things about. I’ve heard that the House of Night Vampire series by Kristen and PC Cast is high in the sensuality/sexuality department. Older teens are definitely interested in that kind of sexual tension, but would I necessarily suggest them to an 11 year old? Especially if she were to go looking for more of PC Cast’s books only to find they’re VERY adult?

Is this the inevitable consequence of crossover fiction? Or just the reality of the evolution of young adults?

What are your thoughts?

About Isabelle

Isabelle is a multi-published author who dabbles in romantic fantasy and Young Adult fiction. A dreamer who loves Jane Austen as much as she loves Star Wars, Isabelle is most comfortable on stage behind a microphone belting out her favorite karaoke tunes, or curled up in bed with a book and a cup of cocoa on a rainy night. View all posts by Isabelle

4 responses to “Book Geek Wednesday: The Evolution of Young Adults

  • Lisa

    Yeah, in fact I was ready to go on a rampage about that when I got to that part, too. Because literally the characters had just said “I love you” to each other for the first time, and oh my goodness, saying “I love you” at seventeen does NOT mean “okay, we’re committed enough to have sex now.” But I admit that it was done in a very PG-13 way. Way more PG-13 than Breaking Dawn, for example, and a much more successful fade-to-black (that part of BD makes me shudder, I admit. And not in a good way. *rolls eyes*)

    So why didn’t I go on a rampage about it? Because I was distracted by how fantastic the rest of the book was. But really, that scene was entirely unnecessary, and really, kind of annoying, for the above-stated reasons. It just reeked of Stiefvater having seen too many movies where “I love you” is followed immediately by falling into bed, and that’s something that bugs me about movies as well. So I guess I block it out. I don’t think it’s appropriate for YA books, and I really don’t think it was essential to the story here at all, so yes, that bothers me. It’s something that could easily be skipped or glossed over, though, I guess? *shrugs* But it also wasn’t intrusive in any way. I don’t know.

    I’ve heard teachers (Kath, for example) complain about the Gossip Girl books, as well. I don’t think I’d ever want to read them, personally, no matter how much I love the show.

  • greek4cheerful

    Wow this is an old post, but I’m going to comment anyway 🙂
    I’m 30. I love YA and have no shame in admitting it. However, recently I’ve been asking myself some of the same questions you pose in this post.
    For me, the Twilight Saga was a bore in the sexual content department, but was probably thrilling to someone much younger and less experienced. However, The House of Night novels were perfect for someone my age, but for a 12 year old? *shudder*
    The lines between YA and Adult content have definitely been blurred into what we like to call Crossover. Twilight as we all know, is a story of love, waiting until marriage, and staying w/ that person forever. The House of Night is a story of a horny ass teen vamp who loses it to (well I don’t want to spoil it) someone she shouldn’t, & then precedes to give it up like there is no tomorrow- which in Zoey’s defense her tomorrows were never a sure thing.
    But does it really matter?
    Ultimately, I think teens will do what they want to do and no amount of Bella saving it or Zoey giving it away will sway them.
    As a parent I try to censor my teens books, music, tv and movies, but in the end I don’t think it makes a difference.
    Sorry for this very long, convoluted comment. I imagine when I read it I will find that I’ve contradicted myself somewhere. It’s a hard question to answer. I did the best I could. Great post btw.

    • Lisa Asanuma

      Thanks for the great comment! I do think it’s true that kids will read and do what they want…

    • Isabelle

      I agree with you, 100%. We do what we can to censor our children from things we may not approve of, but its also a matter of understanding that things out there are getting more and more adult. I’ll admit, I was surprised when PC Cast started writing YA, even with her daughter. I’ve read her adult books… they’re… not kid friendly. She’s a great author and storyteller, but I couldn’t imagine her writing teen. Kids are exposed to this stuff earlier and earlier, and while some may think its just the way of the world, I’m always worried we’re losing the magic of childhood.

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