Editorial: Is Romance in YA Really Necessary?

I’ll be the first to admit I like shipping and I read a lot of books for the romance.  I know I complain a lot about how romance is handled in YA, but I do like getting feels and reading fluff.  That being said, I think some books are better without romance.  And I thought I’d talk today about when romance should be off the table in YA.  And recommend some non-ship central books as well as discuss books that might’ve been better-say had there not been a hot and heavy ship.

When Romance Should Be Avoided:

1) When the Character Is Dealing With a Life Crisis:

Okay, yes, sometimes I wish these girls or guys would find their OTL, BUT when you deal with a life crisis romance isn’t what you’re going to be looking for and it sort of drives away from the story.  I feel like in stories that deal with these events it’s important to explore character development more than romance.  And if you include a romance, well, it’s just going to detract from said development.  And the romance feels out of place.  So, not only does it detract me from the story but in the end it makes me NOT like the ship.

2) When the Character is a “Young” Teen:

When a character reads young, sometimes the romance just freaks me out.  This character just doesn’t seem ready for a long term relationship or any relationship really.  I have the same feelings with middle grade books as well when they include romance.  Luckily, this rarely occurs in middle grade or if it does the romance is handled at a more appropriate level than YA where I feel like the character is getting way over her head.  I get it, teens mature at different rates, but it seems like often in YA their love lives all mature at the same levels.

3) When the Character is Saving the World, has a task to do, has to be an all aroundBAMF.

This applies to a lot of the fantasies out there today.  Which sucks because I ship a lot of these books.  I feel like that realistically if you’re going to give a character a savior complex it might work better without a ship.  The ship is just going to come second.  Look at Harry Potter.  I don’t think anyone read the series to see him get with Weaselette.  Yes, some people liked Harry and Ginny but it wasn’t why they were intrigued with the book.  It was more or less an afterthought.  And I think if savior complex stories are going to work, they need to be light or have a non-existance romance.  After all, how can you save the day when you’re trying to figure out if he likes you or not.  Of course, sometimes savior complex and love interests really work like in Cinder.  BUT that book doesn’t really focus itself on said ship.  The ship is more or less an after thought.

4) Issue Books:

Yes, I said issue books. There are so many problems in the world and while romance might be nice, in stories about said issues it might diminish what the book is trying to accomplish or get overwhelmed in it.  This sort of goes back to number one, but with issue books I really think adding a romance is really out of place.

5) It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Because we don’t need everyone in a ship to have a complete story.  Seriously in some books the romance just feels out of place.  Again sort of goes back to points 1 and 4 BUT there are some lighter books where I’d say throwing in a romance just doesn’t make any sense.  Either the romance is not that much of a point or you’re just like huh well that’s nice but thinking the guy was just sort of random.

 

No to Little Romance Involvement YA Books:

Honestly, I had a hard time coming up with this list.  You really have to look HARD.  Some of these might have a little bit of romance, but if they do it’s more or less an afterthought and the book doesn’t focus on the relationship. Note, some of these books I haven’t read but have been told by word of mouth that they don’t have romance.  Also, some of these books I wouldn’t necessary recommend but if you are looking for a romance free book you might want to give them a try:

I haven’t read this, yet, but I’ve been spoiled that it doesn’t involve a lot of romance which I’m really glad about.  Escaping a Duggar like cult is hard enough with romance.  So, I’m looking forward to character introspection.

Yeah, there is a little bit of romance here, but it is more or less a subplot than the actual story.  The story focuses on the main character reconnecting with her roots in Greece and that’s really the best part of the book.

Lois hasn’t actually met Clark yet, so the relationship is some nice subtle internet flirtation at best.  The story mainly focuses on Lois finding out what she is meant to do-be a kick ass reporter.  If you want a version of Lois Lane that’s on the spunky side this is your book.

The ONE saving grace this book had was that there were NO relationships in it for Colby.  And at the time I sort of felt bad for her, because girl could use a nice hunky shoulder to cry on.  But she is emotionally NOT ready for a boyfriend yet, so it was probably for the best that she was single.

I figure that one of the possible ships will be developed in future installments, but it was nice to see in the first one that there was no rush with the romance because that would’ve stunk. The main character is no way near for a relationship yet, even if she’s being forced to marry a guy who’s like a century younger than her.

Food For Thought Better Without Romance:

Here are some books that I think would’ve been a lot better if the romance would’ve been yanked completely:

This isn’t because I have a case of sour ships, I really think this series would’ve been better if there would’ve been NO romance because almost all the ships in this series were cringe worthy and I really didn’t pay attention to them or otherwise I probably wouldn’t have read the last book (obviously I am not a Heron or Hinny fan).  Still though, you read Harry Potter for the action and to see if he was going to live or die.

While I liked how this book introduced the medical condition/s known as intersex, I really didn’t care for the romance in this book.  It felt like it was tact on and honestly the main character wasn’t ready for another romance in her life at this point.  I would’ve been happier if the book ended on a note hinting that yeah, maybe a relationship between the main character and the love interest could happen, but having it NOT happen yet.

I really think this book would’ve worked for me better if Celaena was asexual or at least not in an active or soon to be active relationship.  She is suppose to be an assassin.  Assassins don’t have time for relationships.  And aren’t suppose to give a fuck about anyone.  Not get moony eyes over boys.  Then again, Celaena was sort of a lame assassin given her extreme vanity.

This book had a ship that should’ve been golden, but I think it was one of the weakest things about this book.  I really wanted to Sarlet to be a strong character and she wasn’t, and I blame Robin and their constant will they or won’t theys.  Plus, he was such an obnoxious ass in the second book it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been tempted to pick up the third.

I really think this book would’ve been better if there wasn’t the so called hot cowboys.  If it was an adventure focusing on friendship more than very bad gender bending I might’ve could’ve gotten into it better.  I would’ve really have gotten it had the girl developed feelings with each other too, but whatever.

So, any good single YA recs.  Are there any books you were annoyed that the author randomly decided to pair the character off with someone?  Discuss away if you want.

Fandom Gone Wild: Troll Books?

Recent troll attacks, and the latest John Green incident (because there’s an incident involving that guy putting his foot in his mouth or doing something semi not cool every couple of months).  Have made me notice something again, certain books attract the worst people. Today, I thought I’d take a look at what books, authors, and reviews are essentially troll bait that I’ve wrote in the past.

The purpose of doing this.  It’s more or less pure curiosity and I like analyzing things.  Maybe I can get my inner Fraiser Crane (actually, I’m more like Niles) on and make a new diagnosis for obsessed fan boys.  Or maybe I need to post something on the blog since I haven’t had time to do a read a book to review (yeah, that’s about right).

Some of My Best Troll Bait:

1) Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare: By far, my top troll review-really anything by Cassandra Clare is troll bait.  I wrote this review after Clare announced that she was doing twenty million shadow hunter books.  And I wanted to state my disdain for the omnibus size of this never ending series.  I have been called a lot of things since, by a lot of people.  Looking back at some of the comments now, I laugh.  The thing about Clare fans though is their rabid and numerous.  You’re never going to talk reason with them.  One such person  I blocked (an unrelated author), even made a fake account in attempt to argue more about how wonderful Cassie is with me.  Needless to say, I didn’t accept his friend request.

2) The Elite by Kiera Cass:  The response on my review is actually minuscule compared to the flak one of my GR friends got for their review of The Selection (not linking it since she’s had enough grief over it).  People seem to have a real polarizing reaction to this book.  You can either be meh about it like me, and complain about how China’s takeover of America (the country not the stupid character) doesn’t make sense or you can love the pretty dresses and bitchiness that goes on in this competition.  Maybe it’s my disdain of  The Bachelor that makes me dislike this one.

3) A Beautiful Anything by Jamie McGuire: Once again, a case of me putting a book on my ca-ching list (cash cow) and the fan girls going off on me.  This time I get reprimanded for language.  Apparently, the word shitty is bad.  Who knew?   That was sarcasm, the thing is the books use much stronger language than I used in my review.  I have noticed with these extra books-and this can apply to any author not just McGuire, that this is usually where the trolls hang out the most).  Interesting enough, this one involved another author (not Jamie McGuire) attacking me.

4) Notes from an Accidental Band Geek  by Erin Dionne: Yeah, I know districts can vary their marching band etiquette. But there were some things that were way off here.  Plus, I like with band nerds so I sort of know a lot about band and classical music in general.  Add horrible characterization, and I will go all Book Hulk.  But this apparently upset some people.  Look, my review is based off on my experience.  And even though some things can vary and are theoretically possible (i.e. you can technically get by with playing the piccolo solo on Stars and Stripes it’s going to sound like shit).

Okay, I only listed four.  Mainly, because items number one and three there’s a lot of titles by the same authors that I’ve been trolled over (as of late, see this one).  Bellow are listed common themes I’ve noticed from fanboy trolls.

Common Themes:

  • You can never tell them that they’re beloved series needs to end.  You’re being mean.
  • You can’t be polite with them because most of them just want to fight, the best thing to do is hit the block button.
  • They don’t seem to get the idea that everyone is entitled to their own review.
  • You merely posted the review to get attention and gosh by darn it they’re going to give it to you and change you from the rude spiteful person you are into a Fangirl (never mind, they’re actually giving attention to that mean old review of yours).

Kind of stupid, right?

I really don’t get it.  Why do people have to go out of the way to defend an author, who more than likely never has set their eyes on said review.    I was hoping that when writing this blog entry, I would be able to find some logic behind the various temper tantrums I’ve seen on GoodReads, but I haven’t.

While I have found common themes amongst the way trolls act,  I can’t find theorize a reason towards their behavior.  A common thought is maybe they think they’re doing good?  But you’d think just seeing the previous comments by previous trolls, that they’d realize this isn’t the way to behave.  Sometimes I wonder if author trolls, think that by tolling another author’s book they won’t get labeled a BBA-but still get the attention and notoriety to sell some books that BBA’s sometimes get.

It’ s just confounding.  Honestly, the best way to deal with trolls is to let it go.  Meaning, I just refer them to a post I wrote back in September reflecting my views.  However, it’s still interesting to dissect and analyze their bizarre behavior.

Let’s Dissect: The Idiocy of GoodReads Young Adult Bingo

If you want to see an author act like an idiot and shoot themselves and their career in the foot these days, all you have to do is go to Twitter where you can find little gems like this.  I thought that today, I’d dissect the logic of this Bingo card.  Because, you know, I like to waste time with nonsense like this.   If the Tweet somehow goes a disappearing in the next few days.  I took a screen shot for prosperity sake (though it’s not a good screen shot).  Also, there’s other blogs that will no doubt cover it as well and have better tech skills as well.

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 11.01.49 AM

I will be going through the squares top to bottom horizontally.

Obviously, I don’t own this little bingo card.  I am merely using it’s contents to point out its fallacies.  The bolded text is directly taken from the Bingo card which belongs to Amy  Spalding and her wasted lunch.

Reviewer angry teen characters are acting like teens:

How do you define acting out like a teen?  One teen can act out  completely different from another.  Most teens I know don’t act like your stereotypical dumb YA heroine throwing a tantrum. I mean, I haven’t met anyone who would sit like a zombie for six months when they’re boyfriend left them.  Because remember Harry Potter, he threw a big temper tantrum and…wait, he reacted different from Bella.  I knew it, teens do act different when they get mad.

Reviewer likes something but still points out that “other readers might not like it”:

It’s called trigger warnings, my friend.  And I appreciate them in reviewers.  It keeps me and other reviewers who might be sensitive to an issue from reading the book and thus doing….this.

Reviewer thinks YA book is “pretty good for a kids’ book”

I’ve never said this.  But so what, if someone does?  They are still giving you a compliment they are just stating that the book is geared towards a younger audience.  Which it is.  Plus, a lot of YA today is geared for adults instead of teens-i.e. there are some books in the genre that are a lot more mature than others.

Reviewer thinks because they would never react a certain way, no one would:

Really?

I know in my reviews I’ve pointed out that the reactions of a character seem a bit unrealistic. This is one of the arguments, out of many on this stupid card, that is written in a bias like manner.  I can recall a few books that I’ve pointed out that the reaction seems off.  And you know what, totally my opinion.  I think there are some situations, like when a girl is almost killed and agrees to go with her would be  kidnappers to a different continent that it can pretty much be a universal come on.

Reviewer list star rating in precise fraction:

Well, isn’t it better your book is being rounded up than down?  Seriously, I have rated several one star worthy books a two because I rounded them up.  And seriously, what made the five star method a required standard.  You’d think for authors who are so concerned about the overall rating of their books, they’d like it when I rounded up their book babies.

Reviewer expresses opinions only in gif form:

This guy right here is why gifs are totally appropriate.

 

Reviewer downrates for presence of drugs, swearing, and/or sex:

Is the review site or the reviewer geared towards clean books?  There are quite a few of these sites that exist, and while Im not a huge fan they do serve a purpose to that segment of the population who wants to be aware of these issues.  And I get it.  I’ve been to several book signings, and sometimes there are kids there that are way too young to be reading about some of the adult situations that are presented in these books.  So, while I myself might not care if the characters have intercourse every other page, I totally get a parent caring about these sorts of things.

Reviewer confuses presence of issue/situation as author condoning advocating it:

Honey, it’s how you present the issue.  If it’s presented poorly, you’re going to be called out on it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not condoning/advocating it, poor presentation is just as bad.

Reviewer might actually be referring to a different book, impossible to tell:

Reviewer liked book until character was revealed to be gay:

Once again, illy phrased to get a reaction.  While I’m sure there are some people who will put a book down if a character is gay, I think probably the majority of this frustration is that the revelation seems out of place.  Or the character ends up being gay just so that the book can have a designated token character.

Reviewer takes off stars for bad decisions made early in the book later amended:

Yeah, but did the bad decisions make sense at the time they happened?  If they did, it doesn’t matter how much amending is done the book’s been spoiled.  Why  should I continue if there’s stupidity to begin with?

Reviewer gives book 1 star.  Book isn’t fully drafted yet:

Bet you like those five star reviews that are given before the book is fully drafted.

Adult reviewer think it’s book’s fault they relate more to parent characters:

Notice the use of the word adult.  I think Stanton is trying to stigmatize adult readers of YA at this point.  Never mind, they supposedly saved the publishing industry last year.

Reviewer angry at author who blurbed book leading them astray:

Hmmm, too vague to make a comment on.  I think I’m being lead astray.

Reviewer has issues with book’s grammar makes grammatical errors in review:

The difference, I’m paying money for your work (and you should have an editor/beta reader).  I do not.

Reviewer dislikes something that didn’t happen in book:

Well, isn’t that the point of the review to talk about your likes and dislikes.

Reviewer admits not finishing book, makes assumptions instead, rates on said assumptions:

Shouldn’t you be glad they admitted to a DNF?   Some people don’t.  And besides that, they have a right to review the book however they want on what part of the book they want.  It should also be mentioned, that often literary criticisms focus on mere sections of the book and that English professors sometimes only assign sections of the book too.  If academia thinks it’s okay, then I really don’t see why this is a problem.

Reviewer wanted book to be one thing, book was other thing:

Once again, irrelevant.  The review is suppose to be about how the reviewer viewed the book.  I think they were.

Reviewer assumes any underlying themes were accidental:

Perhaps, you should read this article on what literary criticism is.  I get that it’s a difficult concept to grasp, so I think the Wiki version should suffice for you for now.

Reviewer thinks girl main character is whiny, unlikeable, unsympathetic:

Well, are they?

Reviewer said teen characters didn’t end book/series with marriage:

I don’t know where they got this one, but once again the reviewer is talking about the book.  So….you can’t fault them for that.

Reviewer thinks “Some” diversity is OK but not “too much”:

This one is just asking for a fight.  I love the way it’s phrased.  The use of quotations is clearly trying to get a reaction there as well.  For me, I love diversity in books, but I hate it when diversity is essentially watered down to create token characters.

Reviewer thinks rich main character should have zero complaints:

Studies do show that money can buy happiness to a certain point.  So, yeah, they shouldn’t have as many complaints than the lower 99%

Reviewer downrates for perception of factual error that is actually correct:

In your universe?  Maybe you did Google something and it seems correct to you, but if someone…say a lawyer is reading a book where a legal issue is grossly mishandled even though the initial Wiki research  than you’re wrong.  And I’ve seen this happen a lot.  I’m sure it happens in other areas as well.  I know it happened in a marching band book I’ve read.

 

The State of Publishing: More on Midlists, Marketing, Kickstarting

On Monday, I posted a post about how I believe midlist novels don’t get the attention they probably deserve and rambled about how I’m considering doing some sort of feature devoted to these books.  Since that post, things have exploded in the Twitter world.

Stacey Jay decided to take down her illy phrased kick starter and let’s just say all hell broke loose.  I really didn’t want to go into all the particulars about the campaign in my blog because I didn’t think there was anything done out of intentional malice from it.  But now that things have imploded, I think it might be a good idea to discuss Kickstart and sites like it and how they might have an impact on publishing in the future.  And that sort of means I have to talk about the elephant in the room…Jay’s book.

I’ve been looking forward to Princess of Thorns since it was announced in January 2014.  I loved Jay’s previous novel Of Beast and Beautyit was a wonderful adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and mixed fairytale with futuristic dystopia quite well.  So, when I heard she had another fairytale retelling coming out, you can say I was very excited.

Not so much when I read the Kickstarter.  While I wouldn’t have mind chipping in for production and editing cost, I didn’t want to be paying for Jay’s living expenses.  Maybe this was in part because she was using Kickstarter rather than another crowd sourcing site that focuses more on the creator than the product.  While many have held the 7k as being like an advance, it’s not.  There’s not a contract between the donators and Jay like there would be with a publisher and Jay becuase there’s no freaking consideration (you know, getting a chunk out of the royalties from future sales like a publisher would).  Plus, most self pub authors I know don’t get an advance.

I heard arguments about how you can’t write a book while working a job.

Um, no.

Most writers start out and continue writing while working.  I know some writers who are working multiple jobs while writing and have a family life.  While it’s true that I don’t know Jay and her finances, I just find the whole thing a little annoying.

Especially since I come from a family of artists.  For example, my sister is a professional musician.  In order to make ends meet she has another full job as a private lesson teacher.  She used to sell her reeds commercially as well and still find time to practice.  And guess what, no one paid her to practice for her orchestra.  Oh, she gets paid for rehearsals and performances, but not for merely practicing.

And then there was the whole  I won’t write anymore books in the YA genre if the KS fails line.

That last line left a really bad taste in my mouth.

But again, that’s just my opinion and believe it or not I do see where Jay is coming from.  I just don’t think the crowd sourcing site was utilized properly.  I do think that crowd sourcing is going to become an important part of the publishing process (especially for midlist authors) in the future.

Publishing is completely different than it was even five years ago.  Like it or hate it, Amazon  has changed the landscape especially when it comes to authors who don’t get the sort of press like big names.

Marketing is also a different game than it was years ago.  Publishing companies often will do little to no marketing.  With Princess of Thorns, for example, I only found out about it because I was interested in what else Jay was working on.  There wasn’t any fancy cover reveal.  I didn’t even realize it was on Netgalley till it was next to  impossible to obtain a copy.

I think the lack of marketing is in part to the over hype of what social media is AND isn’t.  While social media is a great tool to utilize when on a shoe string budget, it’s not fool proof and to be fully effective traditional marketing has to be employed with it.

Add an author’s already busy schedule and…well, ineffective marketing here we come.

Blogs are often thought to be a source of free marketing.  Despite what publishers might think, I don’t (and I know others don’t) have time to market a book like it should be marketed.  In Jay’s case, I plugged the book on several features and I saw the book plugged on some of my friend’s blogs as well.  And the book still didn’t garner enough attention to be given the green light for a sequel by Jay’s traditional publisher. In part, this might be because blogging really is a niche community.

While there are tons and tons of book blogs,  most of the time people will find a few they like and keep to those few.  And most of the time…those people you follow read similar things to you.

So, exposing the audience that would not normally read the book…not that likely.

Sigh…

The marketing for midlist titles has to change.  Here are some solutions (some are way better than others):

  • Publishing Downsizes: As much as I hate to say it, maybe it would be better if larger houses downsized their amount of titles.  While this would be less books, more time and resources could be spent on refining the product and marketing it.  There would less likely be as many flops as there are in the current market.  The downside to this is downsizing would more than likely cost jobs in the short term.
  • More Houses: I’d like to see smaller houses or more imprints of larger companies, but more of them incorporating the same concept as solution number one and having more independence from their parent company.  I already am a fan of small presses  and I would love to see more successful start ups. The problem is that the Big Six have a lot more resources than smaller houses.  Publishing is expensive.  I think if smaller houses are going to succeed and make a bigger impact in the market, they need to think outside the box in how to manage their resources.
  • Third Party Publicists: Sure, some authors have access to a strong publicity team, but not every author can afford a publicist.  I think there needs to be a cheaper middle man.  Maybe not performing all the services that a publicist does, but performing some of them at a lower cost.  Maybe advising in social media usage or promoting the author through a blog tour company or running their crowd funder.  Some of the services already exist, but I think it needs to be refined.
  • Stop Being Dependent on a Broken System: This one is the biggest one.  I really wish there wasn’t such a dependence on using primarily social media from unpaid third parties (aka bloggers) to market books.  I like blogging, but it’s a hobby and my focus isn’t on marketing.  I feel safe to assume that this is the same for many bloggers.  While we might have our favorite books, write reviews for them, and go gaga over covers and ships it’s not the same as actual marketing attention towards a book.  Even though I have some favorite midlist titles that I pimp out all the stinking time, I don’t have the resources (time or money) to do an effective marketing campaign.  Let alone, know anything really about marketing.  While bloggers should be part of the equation, they shouldn’t make up a large part of the equation.  And neither should authors.
  • Use Crowd Sourcing, but in an Effective Way: It’s been used before.  But I think when authors use methods like crowd sourcing, they need to pay close attention to the medium they are using.  Honestly, I think they might should have a third party handle the CS site. Having a third party write up the proposal will allow for another perspective and allow discussion before posting a campaign that is less than likely to succeed.

I am sad about losing Jay to the genre.  I enjoyed her books and I really wish she would’ve been getting the sales she deserved.  I feel the situation has become out of control, and that some people are making it about things it’s not-cough, misogyny and piracy, cough.

The fact is, even though Jay’s Kickstarter ended up being canceled it highlights awareness to the ever changing world of publishing. Rather than deviating into us versus them talks like some authors have, I think the discussion should be focused on looking at solutions for the changing world that is publishing.

 

In Loving Memory: PJ Beagle (1999-2014)

Penny Jeannine (PJ) Beagle II: Beloved friend, pet, and connoisseur of hats. May you rest in peace.

 

I lost one of my best friends this weekend, my fifteen-year-old Beagle, PJ.  I am comforted by the fact that PJ died peacefully and at home on her beloved bed.  I know that she is in a better place now, and is probably causing havoc to her namesake’s peaceful afterlife, but I still miss her.

I got PJ after the loss of my first Beagle, Penny,in April 1999.  She was six weeks old then.  I raised her from puppyhood.  She was my best friend at a time where I didn’t have a lot of friends.  At eleven, I was bullied tremendously, for being the weird girl who liked to read and could not catch a ball to save her life.

PJ could catch a ball though.

I trained her to fetch.  Catch a ball in her mouth (like a seal).  Throwing teats helped on that.  She even knew how to do Math problems-a large feat for a Beagle since apparently they’re one of the least trainable dogs (not in PJ’s case).

Despite being highly trainable, PJ was aloof.  I thought she was missing something and because of that I saved up my money to buy her a friend.

PJ always seemed more dog inclined than people inclined.  Unlike my other dogs that liked to cuddle, PJ liked to hunt.  Not that she was the best hunter, though she’d probably would’ve thought otherwise.  And to her credit, she did cause three or four opossums to commit suicide (if you heard PJ bark all day you’d probably jump off the fence and beg her to kill you too).

She was also a wonderful mother figure for my other dogs.  Even though she was spayed very early in life-I watch The Price is Right-she still had strong motherly instincts.  She would bathe my rescues.  Teach them how to hunt.  Of course, she wasn’t perfect she’d steal their food too.

PJ had quite the not so perfect streak.  When she was a young dog, she dug up trees.  She ate water hose and played havoc with the Christmas trees.

We often said that PJ really stood for Paganini Jeanie the Meanie when in reality it stood for Penny Junior.  To be honest though, I liked her wickedness.  It made her PJ.  And even though she was a destructo-dog she was still kind hearted.

Up until a few months ago, PJ was a very active dog.  Even in old age and half blind, she made sure she got what she wanted in life.  The past few weeks have been hard, watching her decline, but she wasn’t in pain.  Her passing was quite peaceful, still I will miss her greatly.

I probably won’t be posting much this week while I try to deal with her loss.  PJ was a friend.  I know that she wasn’t a person, but she played a large part in my life and helped me get over a lot of personal issues.

I do believe the sentiment that all dogs go to heaven.  And yes, I do believe that PJ is there and healthy again.

Five Things I’m Loving and Not so Loving Right Now in Book World

Occasionally I like to have a post where I rant and rave about things going on in book world.  This includes all aspects from book, author, blogger, or even Hollywood things oriented with reading.

Things I Love:

1) Alternative World Trend: I think this is one of my favorite trends of the year.  Even though not all of these books have been successful, I think I like the possibilities it involves.  For those who are wondering here’s a few picks (some of them are better than others):

  • Dissonance by Erika O’Rourke: While the characters are deplorable, O’Rourke’s world building on how world walking works makes for an interesting tale.
  • Trial of Fire by Josephine Angelini: An alternate world that includes where the witches in Salem were actual witches and The Sanderson Sisters took over (okay, maybe not the Sanderson sisters, but Lily is a redhead).
  • A Thousand Pieces of You: Imagine a manhunt in several different worlds including an AU Imperial Russia.

2) Meg Cabot Revisiting Dead Series: Okay, while I might accuse others of cash cow-ing it.  I’m really glad Meg Cabot is revisiting finished series like The Princess Diaries and The Mediator.  After some sour non-Meg versions of these stories (cough, Royally Lost and Ghost House, cough) I need the real thing desperately.

3) More Diversity in YA: While there isn’t as much diversity as I’d like in the genre, at least we’re getting a little bit more.  We’re getting more covers with POC and for that matter the contents of books are now featuring diverse characters in them as well.  One of my favorite books that I read that featured  diversity was My True Love Gave to Me which is a short story collection edited by the lovely Stephanie Perkins.

4) TV Adaptations: It seems that a lot of YA to Hollywood projects are heading down the TV route.  This is actually a good thing because I think there’s a lot more you can accomplish with some series with TV versus a movie format. However, I do not see how you can reboot a failed movie into a TV series when your pilot episode is essentially you’re failed movie-are you going to wipe out movie cannon?

5) Beautiful Covers: The cover fairies have been pretty brilliant lately.  So, I’m going to give kudos to them.  I really like the trend of illustrated covers that don’t look kiddie like.  That’s a real nice change from the big head photography trend we were getting there for awhile.  Oh yeah, sure there’s an occasional WTF Cover, but it’s more limited now than it was before.

Things I Hate:

1) Harper Collins Everlasting Silence on Kathleen Hale: Come on, just make a blanket statement that says you don’t condone her actions.  I get that there could be things behind the scenes, but it’s very discerning that nothing has been said regarding Hale’s despicable behavior.  There’s part of me wants to do a Harper boycott, but I  probably won’t.  Still, I  don’t blame anyone who does.

2) YA Movie Adaptations: Lately, none of the films that have been out there have caught my eye.  Part of this is because a lot of the recent adaptations haven’t been MJ books (i.e. they’ve either been dystopias or contemporaries that involve Nicholas Sparks material-near death experiences, death, and cancer).  But even Vampire Academy, a book I actually read and really, really, liked was just lackluster. Seriously, you gave Dimitri Snape hair?

3) Witches of East End Gets a Spinoff of Itself: This one confuses me.  I’ve been smelling cash cow with the various de la Cruz series that spawned from Blue Bloods for years now, but this one takes the cake.  Maybe it will make more sense to me if I read the book, but while de la Cruz is publishing a book to tie up loose ends of a TV show that is based (loosely based) on a series she wrote I’m more than a little confused about which cannon is going to be followed.  Because yes, the two of them are different.  Quite different.  Aunt Wendy-the best character in the TV show-didn’t even exist in the book.  And Dash wasn’t Dash his name was Bran (aka Loki).  And he and Ingrid were never an item-thank God-though Ingrid was never that annoying or wore a cardigan in the books-just saying.  So, I guess de la Cruz is bringing alternate reality to a new level.  Oh, I have a headache with this one so much.  I think I should just get a glass of wine.

4) Comparisons: If I see one more book comparing itself to The Hunger Games meets Twilight meets Big Brother meets The Price is Right I swear it’s not going to be pleasant.  This is a huge turn off especially when said book is nothing like any of said series.  Why don’t you want to be original book, why just why?

5) Books Pitched to the Wrong Age Group/Genre: There’s a reason I don’t read middle grade.  When a supposed YA book comes off as a middle grade book,  I feel duped and usually end up giving the book a poor rating.  It’s the same with genres.  When a retelling is clearly not a retelling and a book about faes of all things.  Yeah, I’m not happy.

Book Blogging: Apparently, It Has Become a Dystopia

When I announced that I was doing a Blogger Blackout earlier this week, I said that I would be having some awareness posts (this is one of them).  I thought today I’d talk about how hostile reader and author relations have become and how perplexing it is-to me as a reader and what can we (as a reader/blogger) do about it.

Some background: I started my first blog in Spring 2011.  I didn’t post often really until the beginning of 2012 since A) I was in law school, B) I was studying abroad in law school, and C) I ended up getting severally ill that fall with whopping cough and a host of other nasty infections that kept me in the doctor’s office a good third of the year (to the point I got very used to getting my blood tested).  However, when I started feeling halfway human again I started blogging again and it was just as I was immersing myself in the blogging community that relations turned nasty.

I don’t know what was the turning point.  Before I even blogged I saw negative and snarky reviews.  It was nothing new.  But there wasn’t near the amount of author drama as there is now.  No Twitter tantrums.  No cries of “bullying”.  No hate site ran by someone who clearly has lost touch with reality.  And there wasn’ t an author intent on stalking someone just because they didn’t like their book and were vocal about it.

So, what changed?

My first thought was more interaction between reader and writer.  GoodReads had really taken off on this point, and most every author had a Twitter account.  But there was Twitter and GoodReads before 2012.  Same with self publishing which is what a lot of people blame the problem on.  Which I think is silly since a lot of these meltdowns (cough, Kathleen Hale, cough) were committed by traditionally published authors.

Culture could also play a role.  There were various events in our society (i.e. media awareness campaigns) that discussed bullying in maybe too broad of terms.  And I guess to the ill informed would make a bad review look like bullying, but such an accusation to one who was actually bullied is just aggravating.

Just to reiterate:

  • It’s a book review.
  • Your book is not alive.
  • Unlike a corporation it’s legally not viewed as a person.
  • And the fact you’re comparing bad character development/poor plotting/etc. to bullying is just flummoxing….

So what is it?

My conclusions: there’s not one factor that points towards the poor relations.  Sure, certain events like a certain site that is essentially a propaganda piece that bad reviews=bullying probably furthered the behavior, but it certainly didn’t start the downward spiral of what has become an almost hostile community. Not only between authors and reviewers, but between reviewers as well.

And I’m tired of it.  I really am. See this post if you want to read my entire rant about trolls in general in the community.

To backtrack, no one should have to hold their breath every time they write a review for a book that gets less than four stars just because it might hurt the author’s feelings. God knows, there have been times I’ve posted less than flattering reviews and I’m like is this the one that’s going to cause some loon to seek out my personal information?

I have actually had my fair share of trolls and dealt with a couple of author trolls in the past.  While most of the trolls have been rabid  unpublished fan poodles for certain books, the author ones are the ones that have me raising my eyebrows.  Grant it, the two authors I’m thinking about on top of my head I did not even read their book (one hasn’t even published his yet).  Rather, they were ragging on  reviews I wrote for two rather popular authors.

I tried rationalizing with them.  I tried the whole you’re an author you should know better mantra, but it didn’t work.

And that’s something that often happens in these situations logic ceases to exist.

Kathleen Hale’s case is a prime example of that.  Throughout her article, she keeps trying to justify her actions.  Regardless of whether Blythe was a troll or not, she shouldn’t have went to the woman’s house.  She shouldn’t have called her.  She should’ve left well enough alone.

But she didn’t.

And many others don’t either.

However, it’s not wrong in their heads becuase it’s justified since said reviewer hurt their paper baby and therefore them as well.

So, how do you deal with someone like this?

You don’t. Not really.

If you ever find yourself dealing with an author meltdown, it’s probably the best to do the following:

1) Take Screenshots:In case the author does decide to demonize you in the future, you can always have proof to back your side of the story up.  While the most fanatic of fan poodles probably won’t believe you, it will provide proof to those who actually have common sense.

2) Think Before you Engage: More than likely the response you get back is not going to be an apology. If you just don’t want to deal with it hit the block button.  If you do decide to engage try to be rational and think what you’re going to say.  Remember, your words are probably going to be twisted against you.  Again, once you say something take screenshots.

3) If It’s on GoodReads use the quote feature: That way if they do delete,well, not everything will be gone.

4) Make Sure Anything Concerning Your Personal Information Is Kept Personal: The last thing you want is another Kathleen Hale, so keep anything that’s personal and you don’t want being found personal.

I get that while these tips can help,  but in some cases they’re not going to be enough.  Author and reader relations are at an all time low, but at the same time there are some really great authors out there.

The new reality that book bloggers live in is scary.  While there are steps that we can take to limit some of the impact that occurs, it’s not going  to limit it all together.  And in some cases, it probably won’t do us much good.  So, why continue blogging then?

Because it shows them that they didn’t win.  Well, that’s my mantra anyway.  My voice is not going to be kept quiet, just because some author doesn’t like the fact I hated his or her  paper baby. That and I like reviewing (sans drama it actually relaxes me).

Yeah but what about authors like Kathleen Hale….

And that is the elephant in the room.

Yeah, something about that needs to be done.  But what can you do?  Authors like Hale have networks that bloggers do not have.  To be honest, I thought about writing a complaint letter to Harper Collins, The Guardian, and her packager (using my PO Box address of course).  I’ve have had some success in the past when writing letters to corporate and at the very least there would be official documentation of my grievance (I’ll send it via certified snail mail, it makes more of an impression than email and they can’t use the it got lost in the mail excuse).  However, I don’t think it’s going to be one letter that changes things.  I think the blogging community is going to have to come together.  And not just with the Hale situation.

There needs to be some sort of accountability for what’s been going on.  Other professionals-doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.-have to follow an ethics code.  Lots of companies have customer service policies in place.  And something akin to this needs to happen in the publishing world.  I don’t know if  the individual publishing company should enact their own codes, or if the various author/publishing groups need to enact one themselves, or even the selling outlets-such as Amazon-should have some sort of ethics policy for their sellers.  But something needs to happen.  Events like the  Hale situation are unacceptable.  While certain authors whine about how mean and evil bullying reviewers are, maybe they are the ones who should look in the mirror.

 

PSA: This is NOT Okay

Edit: I heard that Blythe edited her review after Hale posted her article.  So, it initially was longer than two words.  Still it incites me that someone could be so petty to go all Lifetime Movie over a book review.

It should be obvious, right?

Stalking is NOT okay.

I mean, how many Lifetime movies have we’ve seen where the crazed stalker is taken away at the end of the movie and we’re told over and over again that it’s NOT the victim’s fault.

Yeah, thought so.

However, imagine my surprise when I open my Twitter feed this morning and see a YA author gloating about having tracked down a fellow blogger’s address.

My jaw literally dropped as I kept reading this article.  And especially after I read the comments where some were actually applauding Hale for tracking down Blythe and demasking her.

To be honest, I don’t care about Blythe’s identity.  Bloggers use pseudo names all the time.  God knows, I don’t use my name.  I rarely if ever even post pictures of myself because the YA blogging world has gotten cray cray in recent years.  And only a few people from my private life know about this blog.

We all have a right to privacy.

And Hale violated Blythe’s right pure and simple.  And then gloated about it online. As if she was justifying some big wrong.

The review sent Hale on a couple Twitter rampages, months of stewing, getting Blythe’s address through deceptive means, and ultimately  a confrontation that would be on par to about something you see on a Lifetime movie of the week.

And as previously mentioned there are some people who aren’t dumbfounded over this.

Hale doesn’t deserve a pat on the back.  For a eview she tracked down a woman and invaded her personal and professional life.  Because of a book review.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time Hale has gloated about an eyebrow raising confrontation.

Back to this specific case: Oh, but finding someone’s home isn’t illegal?

Yeah, but how would you feel if a complete stranger walked up on your doorstep, called the place where you worked out of the blue because of a  review.

Well, she deserved it she lied about her identity on a book blog?

Really.

This sort of claim is just skirting the issue.  When I looked at the issue, I’m not even going to consider the claims that Hale made against Blythe.  Because, well, Blythe hasn’t had the opportunity to tell her side of the story and to be honest it’s not even relevant. What’s relevant is what Hale did.  She spent months scrutinizing Harris’s posts and having some sting that is even more immature than the most immature of YA books.

Yet, people are defending her.  Even authors.

Why?

Why?

If I was Harper Teen I’d be concerned about this.  While Harris is a grown woman, several bloggers are teens.  How about if Harris had been a thirteen year old that Hale tracked down?

Age really shouldn’t matter though.  Most professional companies and organizations have strict rules about how ones personal information is given and how their employees use that information.  While Hale alleges that Harris gave her address willingly for an interview, that was for an interview.  An interview that was made for her book which despite what many authors think is not a paper baby.  It’s a product.  A product for Hale, her packaging company, and Harper Teen.    So in essence, Hale got the address as a part of her work for Harper Teen.

Victim shaming has always been an unfortunate part of our society.  The justification for what Hale did is victim shaming.  I feel as if the commenters shouldn’t focus on what Harris may allegedly had done, but on Hale’s actions.  Frame it any way you like, but what Hale did was scary and unprofessional.

And I won’t be buying or reading any of her or her supporters work.

Spinoffs: The Good, the Bad, and the Oh Why Are You Even Bothering

I know I’ve talked about cash cows and cash cow series before, but rather than focusing on the annoying aspects of why is an author doing this to me.  Or I never planned on investigating my time in a series that twenty some odd books long.  I thought I’d talk about what makes a decent spinoff and give some examples of spinoffs that actually worked versus, well, the various bombs.

1) Have some familiarity but not too much familiarity: 

I find the best spinoffs are those that balance the familiarity factor.  The thing with spinoffs is you’re trying to entertain two audiences.  Your fan base of the previous series and the second is new readers.  Successful spinoffs should try to cater to both.

Since I am currently binge reading-and loving-The Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead, I think I am at liberty to say that this series  does factor number one quite nicely.  While there are definite nods to the original series and it’s a little easier to understand Mead’s vampire world, it’s not necessary to read Vampire Academy before reading Bloodlines.

Helpful?  Oh, yes.  It does provide insight to both of the leads, but it isn’t necessary.  There’s enough rehash of world building and  a quick history of past interactions where one doesn’t feel like they’re missing details, but if they hadn’t read the original series, they might be more interested in reading them.

On the other hand, you have a spinoff like Wolf Pact by Melissa de la Cruz-the Bliss Llewellyn standalone that took place in the Bluebloods world.  There was a double edge to this standalone only ebook- that at first was supposed to be a series but somehow ended up being one book-was that if you didn’t understand Blue Bloods you weren’t going to get Wolf Pact and if you didn’t read Wolf Pact you weren’t going to get the last book in the Blue Bloods series.  Which really wasn’t that fun for readers who lacked an e-reader (believe it or not, it does happen) or didn’t know you could order a hard copy from the UK via the Book Depository (oh yes, evil publishers I outwitted you on that :P).

2) It’s probably best if the original series has ended already:

Having two series going on at the same time could work…but more often than not I think it gets the reader confused and annoyed when it takes double time for the original series to be complete because the spinoff is already in the works.

It’s true that the spinoff will give press to the original book, but…well, it could be to it’s detriment as well.

Cassandra Clare and Melissa de la Cruz both published spinoffs while their original series was still going on.  And while the spinoffs were of various qualities-I actually liked Clare’s Victorian set spinoff versus hating de la Cruz’s various Blue Bloods spinoffs-both had the same effect of derailing the momentum of their original books.  And leaving the distaste of commercialization  on their reader’s tongues.

Some authors have tried to remedy this by interrupting a series (putting it on pause to speak) by introducing a new series or spinoff and having the characters come together in the original series at a certain point.  Notably, Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr have done this, as well as Cynthia Leitich Smith.  Did I finish those respected series?

Um, no.  Because it wasn’t the new characters I wanted to read about.  I was invested in the original characters and trying to pause their stories for me to buy and get sucked into another unknown character’s story really didn’t work for me.

Plus, it seems a bit presumptuous of said author to think I’d like to read a spinoff especially when they’ve released only a couple of books of the original series.

3) Don’t try to make this spinoff the hipper, younger, version of your original book.  Niche it in a way that doesn’t ring to 90’s cliche:

Younger and hipper.

Way to insult your original fans.

But it does happen. Not outright as this, but they try to cater to a different audience.  I think this can work and at the same time hinder the success of the spinoff.  Really, it all depends on marketing.

For example, as much as I liked Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, it’s probably unlikely I’ll read her middle grade spinoff.  This is due to several factors.  In part because I just don’t do middle grade (I try to forget about those awkward years) and in part because I’d feel weird holding a book with that cover out in public.  Of course, I might ebook it, but still I just can’t imagine The Princess Diaries series.  A series that was so candid in a lot of adult topics being targeted towards middle graders.

I also have to wonder how many original readers are going to go buy the middle grade books.  Some of them, I’m sure.  But I do think there is going to be some people (like me) who opt out.  And that’s fine.  The book’s probably going to be great, but it is eliminating a portion of its older audience in order to target a brand new age group.

It’s not only spinoffs that are being targeted towards younger age groups that have me raising an eyebrow, but older age groups as well.  A recent trend seems to be adding an adult book on to these series Such adult contributions included  sequel to Sweet Valley High where a very annoying couple is broken up in a fan fic-ish type way. Meg Cabot is also planning on doing adult sequels to her Princess Diaries and Mediator series.  Jennifer L Armentrout is doing a new adult spinoff to her Covenant series and has had an adult spinoff released of her Lux series.  And last but least there’s Vampires in Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz.

With adult spinoffs-which are more or less sequels for the most part (with some exceptions) there’s almost a feeling of just who are these people.

It seems like the missing years-between conclusion of the original series and the development of adult behavior have left these characters to be completely different people. Also, to age them up they often end up acting and having careers that are a lot more older than they actually are.  Once again, like with books derived towards younger audiences, the author risks losing some of their original fan base by having books set in a different age genre.

Okay, true a lot of fans have grown up but a lot of adult fans still read YA and don’t even want to bother with adult books for the most part.  And while these adult books are often pitched as the books where so and so finally do it or where you can see their gorgeous baby (honestly, I don’t get why every character has to have a baby) it often comes out feeling like wish fulfillment fan fic. Of course, there are some adult spinoffs I enjoyed like Obsession (Jennifer L Armentrout’s adult spinoff of the Lux series), but this is because it’s not trying to be an outright sequel or set up to another series.  It truly can be read alone and despite some rather cringe worthy sex scenes, it’s actually a decent book.

4) Don’t turn your spinoff into a right out sequel:

I love sequels, but if I was going to read a sequel I’d read it as a continuation of the original series not as a new proposed spinoff novel. Case in point, Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz.

I really do feel bad.

I keep mentioning a lot of Melissa’s spinoffs.  But she does have a lot.  And some or more successful than others-the Witches of East End series, despite it’s sort of hit and miss, is actually a decent spinoff in form because it isn’t a right out sequel.  For the most part with that series, you don’t have to know Blue Bloods and when you read Blue Bloods (save for a very stupid character in the very last book of the original series, you don’t have to read it to understand Blue Bloods). The thing withVampires of Manhattan is that it really is a literal sequel rather than a spinoff.  If you don’t know these characters or their histories, you’re not going to be able to understand  Vampires of Manhattan.  And while it is true there’s about seventy pages of exposition to try to catch you up, it’s not the same as reading those seven previous books.  You’re not going to feel invested in their stories.

While new readers get the dissatisfaction of not knowing the characters or the world the spinoff is based in, old readers also will feel a bit disenfranchised with how the author dumbs down the series to try to entice new readers.

Case in point, the character Aria in Vampires of Manhattan.  She’s a completely new character.  Which would be good if she had a personality that was her own.  Except she doesn’t.  She’s completely  a mashup of past Blue Bloods characters.  And her only purpose seems to be to tell the readers about the investigation aspects of the novel.

5) Know when to stop.

Know when to stop.  Eventually your universe is going to have to end and it’s always good to do it on a high rather than a low. Even the most ardent of fans are going to want it to stop after awhile.

Or at least take a breather.  Meg Cabot took years before announcing the fact she was giving her famous Princess Diaries series a middle grade spinoff.

However, Cassandra Clare is announcing book series left an right that will be part of her omnibus Shadowhunter universe.  While some fans might like the fact she’s announcing all these books, I wonder if she’s doing herself a disservice.  By announcing all these sequels all at once, it’s almost became a joke to me wheneverI see something new of hers added on GoodReads.  And really out of the various multiple books she’s discussed in the past month.  For the life of me, I can’t remember all their names.

Conclusions:

Spinoffs can be a great way to grow and keep a fan base and further a developed universe.  At the same time they often smell of cash cow.

However, as long as there’s a successful series there’s always going to be a spinoff.  Some will be better off than others.  Various factors will decide whether they are decent or not.  And sometimes there will be an outlier where the factors aren’t relative.

I think in the end, there’s always going to be a risk in taking a chance on a spinoff or not.  And while sometimes you might end up smiling at the new twists and turns that are added to the universe, other times you’ll be wailing cash cow.

Virginity in YA: Why Losing Your V Card is a Big Deal in YA

Virginity has always played a role in society.  In the days before modern paternity tests and where heredity controlled estates, I guess I can sort of understand it’s importance…but modern day society it still holds a lot of creed.

In some parts of the world unthinkable things happen when a woman loses her virginity before marriage.

As much as those sorts of things are appalling, I’m not going to discuss them today.  What I am going to discuss is the effect that virginity has on YA.

I think before I start looking at how virginity is portrayed in the genre, I’m going to discuss how I came upon this idea for this post.  I was watching Hocus Pocus.

Yes, that God awful but so bad it’s good Disney movie that stars Bette Midler as an evil witch-ha, perfect casting Disney.  In the movie, there is a huge emphasis placed on the main character’s virginity.  It’s used as a catalyst, a constant joke, and a way to make fun of him.  Emphasis on the him.

It’s funny, since I’ve been reading YA virginity is hardly ever focused on when it comes to male character, it’s almost exclusively a female thing.  Which is a shame.  However, some of these books did discuss virginity when it comes to the male POV a little bit.  Not a lot, mind you, since most of it is viewed through their girlfriend’s POV, but at least we get flashes of it.  And it just alarms me how different its treated.

For the rest of this article, I’m going to be focused on three separate works: The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, and The omnibus Shadowhunter series by Cassandra Clare.

The Princess Diaries:

This is probably one of the most helpful conversations about sex in YA.  To be honest, I feel like my Meg Cabot books were a better version of sex ed than my actual sex ed course.

I think what I like about Meg Cabot’s portrayal of virginity is she basically states what a farce it is.

While Mia obsesses over virginity and the virginity of her boyfriend in the early novels, she grows up.  She has to go through some pain first, but she does mature.

I really liked the fact that in Cabot’s world not everyone is a virgin and sex isn’t treated like a sin or an after school special.

Okay, so there is one character that sort of gets snapped at, but the person who snapped at him learned her lesson.

The one thing that did bother me about this series portrayal of sex is that it would often make the bulk of the book (see books six and eight).  It made me roll my eyes and want to read something else to be honest.  But I get why she did this.

This series isn’t the only one that Cabot used as a pedestal to talk about safe sex and sexuality in YA.  She also wrote a book (sequel to All American Girl) called Ready or Not which focused on this aspect as well.  In addition to this, several of her other YA books involve sexual relationships too.  Personally, I prefer the books where there’s no “hidden” message.  But I have to give kudos to Cabot for trying and educating.   Also, I’m giving her kudos for taking different approaches to the whole virginity issue.

Interesting to note, is that more recently Cabot has had a trend to have more sexually experienced or non-sex obsessed protagonists that are more willing to get in bed.  I think this is a good thing.  That it shows progress.  To be honest, we shouldn’t be obsessing about sex like Mia does.  However, a portion of teenage girls do.

Twilight:

I chose Twilight, because like Diaries it talks discusses virginity extensively.  However, Meyer takes a different approach than Cabot.  While Cabot gives a more informative view about sex without sounding like a PSA, Meyer’s views have more of a traditional approach.  It’s probably not her intention, and I don’t even know if you’d call the content traditional, but when I read Twilight and read about Bella and Edward’s sexual relationship (or lack of sexual relationship), there are several themes that have almost a traditional vibe  to it.

I think the first thing I need to discuss is the one hundred plus year old version-complete with frozen sperm that just stayed there you know because he never had sex or did anything remotely sexual since before he met Bella. His one true love here.

It’s  a pretty innocent and borderline romantic view at first.  Likewise, is Edward not wanting to be with Bella till marriage.  However, once the relationship is consummated, Twilight probably has some of the darkest sexual undertones to it-which isn’t that surprising since it gave birth to a book where pulling out a tampon is considered sexy.

Dear lord, I really wonder how people read that crap?  It was bad enough on fan fiction but the fact that there’s going to be a movie and…digressing.

Getting back to Twilight…

The darker tones of the aftermath of the act, could be viewed as foreshadowed if we approached the before relationship between Bella and Edward in a different light.

Possession.

Pure and simple that’s how I view Bella and Edward’s sexual relationship.  A mark of possession.  Just like how Jacob imprints on Nessie.

Oh yeah, I went there.  But it is essentially the same sort of thing.  And yeah, Meyer, the whole imprint thing to me is creepy in part because of that.

But think about it?

Edward was not going to do it with Bella till they were married.  From the content of the book, it’s not like he had religious values from waiting. He already condemns himself.

Argument: But he wants Bella to be saved that’s what  he says in the books.

Does he?

He agreed to marry her.  To change her.  I don’t think that’s soul saving.

He was scared about the sex though. I have my own theories about why (cough, he believes he’s  impotent, cough), but that’s not what Meyer was trying to go for.

I find it odd though, that it’s not the marriage that Edward balks more towards, it’s the sex.

Marrying Bella means he’s saying vows to god-it is a sacrament-so since he views himself as a demon….

No.

He ultimately relents though and the sexual relationship between Edward and Bella changes their lives for ever.  You could almost say once he possessed her that’s when he changed her.  Not after the birth from hell (seriously, I think that scene is keeping me child free for several years in the near future).

Though Twilight mostly fades to black during the worst written sex scenes ever, we still see shades of control in the sexual relationship between Bella and Edward.

The broken bed.

The bruises.

The fact that she’s completely alone on the island with only Edward.  Therefore, dependent on him.

She’s nothing more than a toy for him.

Even though you might hate Bedward with a passion, they are not the only couple in this story that has a horrible relationship.  As I previously stated, the wolves are just as bad with their stupid (and in my humble opinion) perverted imprinting.

Though nothing (that I know of) sexually happens between Jacob and Nessie in the novel, there is that same sense of possession  that you see in the Bedward connection.

Jacob follows Nessie around like a lost puppy or a bad Uncle Jesse stand in throughout most of the rest of the novel.  He even takes away parenting decisions that should be made by Bella and Edward.

Again, we have dependency being built.  Again, Nessie is viewed to be more of a possession than a person.

Shadowhunter Series:

While there are a lot of YA series that talk about sex that are out there, I decided to take one of the series that I think handles the subject matter in a grossly inappropriate manner.

I recommend drinking when you think about how twisted the relationships are in this series.

This time it’s not about obsessing over a V card.  It’s about not even taking a remotely realistic path in discussing relationships.

This could actually apply to a lot of series.

However, I think The Shadowhunter Series has some of the most despicable portrayals of sexual relationships in YA literature today.

Virginity often isn’t even really an issue here, because even if the character is a virgin they’re already a pro in bed and want to bone their sibling.

I think the fact that there is no thought involved in the sexual issues going on in this book is what really flummoxes me.

You’d think some of the characters would go on about why they want to bone their sibling, but they don’t.

It’s the same with even more serious issues like rape.

A character  in the novel was almost raped, but was there any fall out from it?

No.  Not really.

Honestly, the reaction is similar to any other sex-capade in the book.

On one hand, I’m glad that sex doesn’t really revolve around the characters’ lives, on the other hand….such a laissez-faire attitude seems a little unrealistic.

I’m sure some would argue that this attitude makes Clare’s characters powerful, but I disagree.  They are abused and don’t do anything about it.  One character gets back together with her abuser at one point in The Mortal Instruments series.

It also adds an unrealistic feeling to these books.  In the Victorian set sub series, The Infernal Devices, the characters are very affectionate with each other to the contrary of the standards and traditions of the time period.

You might find it odd that I don’t like the portrayal of virginity and for that matter sex in Cassandra Clare’s work, since it doesn’t go the traditional precious gift route, but I think Clare’s work is just as bad but in a different way.

It doesn’t educate.  And as I said before it leaves sort of a bad message for cases of abuse that it isn’t that big of a deal.

Concluding Thoughts:

Unless society norms change, sex in YA is probably always going to be a bit of a taboo.

While at best it’s used to educate, often the messages that come from sexual relationships in YA is mixed at best.  Especially when virginity is used as a plot device.

When I started writing this article, I wanted to focus more on gender roles in virginity.  Is virginity treated in YA differently for males than for females?  However, there aren’t that many male centered books where this is viewed as an issue.  In Harry Potter, there isn’t even any talk about losing ones V card.  However, even though there aren’t a lot of male centered YA novels out there that deal with virginity some of the female oriented YA novels have male characters who’s V card comes an issue.  Funny thing though, for these characters it’s often not as big as an issue as it is for their female counterpart.  Even the one hundred something year old virgin (Edward Cullen) didn’t seem to have any problem with it being his first time.  Even more common, in YA is that male characters lost their V card a long time ago like it was something shameful.

But with female characters, it’s viewed as a quote on quote precious gift. In fact, there have been some series (notably, Alyson Noel’s The Immortal series) that use virginity as a plot device.

There have also been books with themes of being a born again virgin.

Which all I have to say is ridiculous.

But on the other side of the coin…you get books like Cassandra Clare’s.  Where sex is treated so blase, that abusive situations aren’t even addressed.

As an adult, reading these books just make me roll my eyes, but to a teen who has little to no sexual education….well….. all I know is that I’m glad there are some books like Meg Cabot’s out there.  Which while not perfect does give a fairly realistic view about sex and protecting one’s self.

The sad thing is that I really see YA evolving in the future.  And even if it does….there are so many issues involved in the V card topic that I don’t know if all of them can be resolved.  In addition to a horrible portrayal on the subject matter, the industry  seems to have only focused on one group of people losing their virginity (straight females) the rest of the population.

Forget it.