Not signed in (Sign In)


Vanilla 1.1.8 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

Welcome Guest!
Want to take part in these discussions? If you have an account, sign in now.
If you don't have an account, apply for one now.

    Clock Orange has a raping, beating, tripping protagonist, though the author never intended it to be YA…

    Also, what do you think of a plot revolving around a literal Mary Sue (just think of it as another one of the bastardized supernatural creatures like vampires or fae/fay/fey/faey) siccing a 15-year-old whose sole power is plot-granted invulnerability on fellow Mary Sues (so that she could become the one and ‘true’ Mary Sue in that canon) in exchange for sex? Contrived? Amoral? Immoral? Too sensational? Makes no sense?

    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

    A Clockwork Orange was NEVER YA. Just so we’re all clear on that. :P If the subject matter won’t do it, the impenetrable slang will.

    Well, I’d say no and leave it at that. Except that I picked up a YA book in the library that seared my eyebrows off just recently, so I don’t have any idea where the limit is anymore. >_> How explicit?

    • CommentAuthorSen
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2012 edited

    Not sure about that specific novel. Since I haven’t seen an alarming scale of YA books dealing with such content, it might not be cause for thinking there’s already been a level set that others are going to try and work in. Just responding to the question in general. With YA, because it covers so broad an age-group, it’s hard to say where one should draw the line. I would prefer that YA didn’t cover ages 12 and up. Apparently it covers up till the age of 25. What a 12-year-old can read and what a 25-year-old can read are two completely different things. Both would fall under the YA category, however. Not saying both shouldn’t be interested in the same thing, its fantastic when something comes out that’s able to appeal to the young and the little less young, but it’s not so great that the lower age groups get lumped in with those much older than them and have something far too explicit for them marketed towards everyone in that group.

    Where exactly the limit is, I feel a lot of people have been pushing the boundaries lately, while being able to avoid some negative feedback on the side. A Clockwork Orange and only a few others haven’t been able to avoid that so I wouldn’t let it represent a new level of content that can be called acceptable. Those are still in the minority. On a wider scale, there are still some limits being tested by others. Maybe it’s too early to say what’s the furthest one can go in a YA novel. It seems there’s a lot of content out there that’s been creating some slippery slopes, so maybe we’ll be able to see where that limit is soon enough. I really don’t think this particular novel should count, though. I don’t see anybody being tempted to go in that direction just yet, at least not for the YA category.

    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

    I guess it depends on why the immorality is in the book. Is it there as a reflection of real life, or is it there because the author is blatantly pushing the envelope and trying to garner a reaction? And I’ve found many times authors throw in risque matter in order to compensate for the book’s lack of depth. Certainly, sex, drugs and all that jazz are a part of life. They’re also topics which concern many of the YA audience members. But it depends on how it’s handled. Am I having teenage sex shoved in my face (god, that sounds vulgar) because the author was not skillful enough to create stand-on-their-own characters with a gripping plot? Am I reading a drug scene because the author is like, “Hey, guys! I’m cool and still know what youth is about!”

    I think it’s possible to write a gritty and realistic YA book while not parading immorality around. Look at The Outsiders. In fact, look at many of the books by S.E. Hinton. Her characters talk about sex, they see drug use, they smoke cigarettes and they drink. But Hinton had the ability to weave these elements into the story as part of the story. What transpired in the books was realistic, not inflated to the point of hyperbole.

    In contrast, I wrote a review on a YA book called Dark Party. The opening scene of the book was a sensual non-orgy orgy (yeah, the kids were rebelling against a government that wanted them to breed by holding a hormone-inducing party that would make them want to jump each other . . . to demonstrate that they would not jump each other). Look, there were some good elements of the book. But when a YA book opens with an orgy-esque scene, my first thought is: “Great, the author even knows she can’t write.”

    Or Valiant? facepalms The protagonist catches her boyfriend having sex . . . with her mother. In, like, the first ten pages. Look, maybe it was a good book, but that – combined with characters who already seemed like wet cardboard – made me stop reading. I’m not saying that a parent has never committed statuatory rape with their child’s boyfriend/girlfriend. It happens. But this felt as though the author was exploiting the idea because what reader doesn’t feel immediate horror and sympathy towards a girl who has just experienced this? I mean, why skillfully craft a story where the audience feels for the protagonist when you can have a page of adult-on-minor sex do it for you? Oh, and yeah, I’m really skeeved-out by the idea that an author can throw in statuatory rape as a mere literary device and then just walk on by. But that’s a whole other argument.

    So, yeah, I guess I fall into the camp that thinks immoral subjects are difficult to portray and still maintain a story. When an author tries too hard, it becomes apparent and then the book because unenjoyable.

    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2012 edited

    I’m glad you mentioned The Outsiders. I think that’s a great example of YA literature that has “gritty”, dark elements while still being a really fantastic book. Those things weren’t put in to make it Gritty! and Realistic!, although they certainly did make it a gritty and realistic novel. In fact, those elements weren’t really put in at all. They were just a part of the story, and you couldn’t really have the story without them. It also helped that it’s a well-written book in general, so like you say, Hinton was able to use those things skillfully as a part of the story.

    Here’s another example, one of my favorite “dark” YA books: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It talks about teenage sex, rape, the effects of trauma, and selective mutism (an admittedly odd topic for a YA book!). All these things are integral to the story. They are the story, not just put in to make it darker or to make the reader go “how horrible!” or be manipulated into feeling bad for the characters or whatever. They are genuinely important and the ramifications of the “dark” things that happen are shown in a realistic way. In fact, that’s the entire plot of the story, talking about the real effects of such things happening.

    I guess that doesn’t necessarily address the OP question, as the immorality in this case is clearly condemned. But I think it does speak for the broader question of “How dark is too dark?” And I think the answer to that is “there’s no such thing as ‘too dark’ so long as the writer is skillful enough to execute it well and isn’t just doing it to be edgy.” I may not necessarily like reading such a book (I have to have a Hope Spot, at the very least), but I agree that such a book could still be good and acceptable for teenagers to read.

    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

    I think we’re taking two different tacks on this issue.

    Can a book have dark themes in it?

    Yes, if they are usefully incorporated into the plot and executed reasonably well.

    Can a YA book have dark/explicit themes in it?

    This question has not yet been answered, I think. If YA stretches from 12-25, and you don’t mind the 25s reading it but want to avoid 12s, what precautions are worth taking? Are there any?

    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2012

    If YA stretches from 12-25, and you don’t mind the 25s reading it but want to avoid 12s, what precautions are worth taking? Are there any?

    Well, first, YA fiction (as defined by the American Library Association) ranges in readership from 12-18. In other countries, does it go all the way up to 25? IMHO, that’s weird. Not that 25 is old and not that 25 cannot enjoy a YA book, but to have books aimed at 25-year-olds next to books aimed at 12-year-olds is defeating the point of dividing the library into age ranges.

    That said, if YA stretches the huge age range from 12-25, we will probably never have a sufficient answer to the questions: what precautions are worth taking? Are there any? My answer is that parents of the younger side of the spectrum still need to be involved in what their children are reading. I don’t think authors should have to write a book specifically aimed at a 20-year-old market and make it acceptable to a thirteen-year-old. However, in my opinion, if authors would only include immoral issues in a way to further the story and not as a way to compensate for a lack of story, I think we would find that the question “what precautions are worth taking?” is moot.

    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2012

    I read and interesting article in the paper recently that suggested that YA books have ratings/warnings like movies do. The CHERUB books have a Mature Content warning, and I’ve seen a few other books aimed at a teenage audience that have warnings on them.


    I’ve always seen YA as a curious genre consisting of two types of books:

    1. Books directly written for the niche that are carefully targeted at a teenage audience. ( The Outsiders, Hunger Games and Twilight.)
    2. The rare book from another genre that is tame enough to be considered appropriate for a teenage audience. ( Howl’s Moving Castle and Pride and Prejudice are both books I’ve seen in the section.)

    In general, in the US violence gets a bit more of a free pass over sexual content. It’s also worth noting that books appear to be able to tackle themes that most visual media considers too graphic for a teenager, at least in the US.

    So no, I don’t think the example on the second half of the original post sounds too graphic, but it does sound kind of sensationalist. Maybe there’s some good in character reason for the dynamic or exterior factors that influence it, but the fact the second character in motivated by sex alone (as far as I can read) just sounds unnecessary from the facts given.