Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbir– jay.

GAH!!!
I am still dying for Mockingjay. We (Dad and I) are number 19 of 61 holds (I check at least once a day). For the Large Print edition. The regular edition has over 400 holds… Sigh. At least we’re moving up on the list, steadily. But slowly. Ag.

 I have not read anything in about a week. This is not good news for my mental state.
[Maybe it’s even what’s been causing my EXTREMELY PAINFUL writer’s block, which is not really a block but–
Curse you, Prefrontoral Cortex!
Is that even the right part of the brain? Hmm? It’s the only one I know. That and the hippocampus, because the word hippocampus makes me think of hippos camping, or going to college maybe… SEE what’s happening? I’m going off the deep end here!]

Anyway.

Yeah. So, I have been trying to find an alternative thing to read. There is pretty much nothing. This is the part of the show where I would usually go off on a tangent about the inexcusable idiocy of my library, and the suckiness of vampires (heh), etcetera. However, I am determined, despite my deteriorating mental standpoint, to write about something besides that which I have already mentioned, and mentioned numerous times before.

Ahem.
Ready?

I hereby propose that the literary world needs to re-configure its non-adult genres.
Firstly, there needs to be a separate genre for readers between the ages of, oh, 12-14. You see, when a good reader (ie, me) reaches the age of twelve, they walk into the library and there is. Nothing. To. Read.
They’ve already read all the good Middle Grade books (there aren’t that many…), and they are too advanced and intelligent for the rest of the MG books. But they’re too young for the Teen/YA books. So what is there to read?
Nothing!!!!
Now, all the adults like to complain that teens don’t read. Well, you wanna know why? It’s because by the time they were 12-13, there was nothing TO read. They end up going weeks, months, maybe a year without really reading much of anything, and so they lose their appetite for reading. They might try to come back to it when they’re 14 or so, but they’re instantly put off their feed again by the flagrant use of the word “puberty” in all those lovely Teen books. Like, if you want to keep kids away from something, like sugary drinks, just put “puberty” really big on the label. Believe me, they will be repulsed.
So anyway, by the time these young teens are old enough to actually read YA, they don’t care for reading anymore and therefore miss out. Only the handful of kids (myself included) who make it through those 3 or so years of literary starvation did so by reading the classics, or settling for absolute crap. I did a bit of both, sad to say. I discovered Alice in Wonderland, but I also read stupid stuff that was an insult to my intellect.

My second idea is to draw the line, a very clear, very dark line, between the genres of Teen and YA.
You see, Teen books somehow don’t have the same oomph as one I would call YA. Frankie Landau-Banks is YA. Curse of the Zombie Prom Date is Teen. See the difference? How the YA one is not pop-culture trend-following, not insulting to my intelligence, not bad writing with a lot of cliche and crap and words like puberty? Because Teen books are the ones that are about “growing up” “finding yourself” “the changes that come with becoming a teenager”, blah blah blah. YA is sort of about that stuff… I mean, Frankie Landau-Banks is sort of about how she “finds herself” or whatever, but it’s more than that. It’s more real. It’s not trying to be about that, you know? It’s really a book about an awesome girl with an incredible mind and what happens her sophomore year. Its underlying themes are just that– underlying themes. Not Morals to the Fake-O Story.
Teen books are the ones that try to be funny, and say stuff about bras, and boys, and being unpopular, and being insecure.
YA books are the ones that make you laugh out loud in public, and quote the characters, and actually use your brain, and think about them long after you’ve finished them.
Teen books are the ones that have cheesy titles, and white on the covers like they think they’re Seventeen magazine or something, and follow book trends, and were clearly written by some lady who thinks she must be super hip, but really she’s just a teacher with some kind of stupid degree that says she knows what youth are thinking and what they’re like.
YA books are the ones that have interesting titles, and use a wider vocabulary, and stand alone from the culture so that if your kids read it years from now they wouldn’t think it was lame, and you don’t even think about who wrote it because it seems like it wasn’t written, it was spoken or lived or told to you and only you, for the whole time you’re reading the book, until you finish it and immediately want to talk to someone else about it, and think about it with them, and so you suggest it to all your friends or your dad or your mom’s book club and then you talk about it with them for two hours straight.
See the difference? See? YA doesn’t belong under Teen. YA should have its own shelf, heck, it’s own library– it’s in a whole other league. If YA and Teen were spearate, I wouldn’t have to pick through a million crap books before finding the one that was worth it all.

That’s my proposition.

You know, everyone makes a big deal out of writing books for teens, books that all teens will want to read and not just the ones like me who are voracious readers. So they dumb stuff down. Well guess what? You’re just losing more readers, because most of the teens reading are NOT your every-teen, they are the reading teens, which means they stuck it out through 3 or so years of wasteland, and now what happens? More puberty talk? Stupid cliches? Bras and vampires?
This is not what young readers want. Yeah, the culture wants it, but the real readers who are there with a book day in and day out, who may not make you as rich as Stephanie Meyer but who are true and loyal and valiant and smart, do not want crap Teen books.
We demand YA!!!!!

Well.

It was nice to finally get that out of my system. All the exclamation points were building up pressure.

Yours till the Teen books don’t suck
(or in summary, Forever Yours),
Pen

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6 thoughts on “Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbir– jay.

  1. that is all so true…….though I got throug by reading historical ficxtion that I wanted to punch a hole in…..and then I moved to the classics……now must bear through looking at the YA/teen. yeah…..didn’t find any last time….

    I’m on writers block to, though its more like sun block…..luaghed alot about hippos.

    (He thought he saw a banker’s clerck
    descending from the bus
    he looked again and found it was,
    a Hippopotamus!

  2. crescendocroise

    It is so sad how the literature today has become so horrid, dark, creepy, and pointless. I was just talking to mom about how the kids are worked harder than they used to be but they are “what?” “huh?” They waste their time reading pointless books, listening to horrid music, watching ridiculous t.v. shows, texting… I mean, what does all that do to your brain???
    I just love how your stories are written, Pen! I am sure teens will love it! Anyways, you come up with waayyyy better titles then those weird ones in the bookstores/libraries! And you are right. I think if the culture were different more kids would want cleaner reading…. And there are people out there who don’t want to read what the culture has to offer, anyways… like me, and you, and a LOT of other people!!!!!
    Great post, Pen!

    Love,
    Dernhelm

  3. LOL, Pen. :0) I agree with you there about the difference between “teen” and “YA”. And vampires. I have been known to go off on a rant at the very mention of the word “twilight” anymore–which stinks, since it used to be a favorite word of mine. I always thought that Teen books dumbed everyone down–thanks for the confirmation! :0)
    Although…I didn’t have the “wasteland” you spoke of. Why not just skip ahead a few grade levels/years? I think I read YA stuff while I was 12-13, and by the time I was 14-15 I had started on adult fiction. Now I don’t even stay in adult fiction–some of my favorite books are YA! And anything that has the word “classic” on it is an instant turn off for me, so I know how you feel right now!

    1. pen2sword

      I actually did get an adult fiction book– called The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte. Hopefully that’ll turn out well.
      Ah, vampires. Sometimes I think I might have to wear a garlic necklace to ward off all the Twi-hards. ;)

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