Showing posts with label ya talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ya talk. Show all posts

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mean Horror Book Reviews and Learning to Review Properly | YA Talk

I've been recently diving more into YA horror and noticed a pattern - no matter who wrote it, you'll see that ALL horror books have very low ratings and the most upvoted reviews are exclusively negative. 

If you're active over there you might also know that books usually have 4+ star ratings unless they're exceptionally horrendous or offensive (well, not always...). 


So I'm asking - why do we hate horror?

Seriously. I think this might be a reason why YA horror isn't taking off as a genre. I'm seeing reviewers give books one star ratings because they didn't scare them shitless, give books extremely negative ratings simply because they play into a cliche - you'll find the most unnecessary reasons over there. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, entitled to writing a scalding review, but it's fairly obvious that reviewers and bloggers are extra mean when it comes to horror. 

I get it, horror is an extremely subjective genre. Of course not everything will scare you, of course not everything will work out for you - but I feel like a huge part of learning how to review is to learn to appreciate craft and calm down a little about your own preferences. Just because a book didn't work for you you don't have to rate it one star. That's a rookie mistake. You have so much impact on authors' careers and doing that is almost always a bad idea. 

The problem with this behavior is that this is probably one of the leading reasons why there is so little horror on the market in the first place. Bad reviews, no recommendations, scalding comments from reviewers - all that leads to less sales, less buzz, and people being less interested in reading those books in the first place. I constantly hear people say they want more YA horror, I see bloggers and reviewers alike complain about the lack of horror - but then turn around to give every single horror book they read a scalding review because it wasn't the right kind for them. Again, I'm not saying you can't review horror books negatively. But this systematic pattern of being mean about horror books is such a frustrating thing to see for anyone who truly enjoys YA horror.

Keep in mind that the world doesn't revolve around you.

I've rated books I personally disliked and could hardly finish five stars before because they are extremely important books by marginalized writers about marginalized teens that have no representation on the market. It's incredibly important that you review with the thought in mind whether SOME of your readers might enjoy the book. That's just an example - I can't wrap my head around this that it seems like everyone is being extra harsh about all horror books on the market. And don't get me started on diverse horror books. Their ratings are even worse! You can't tell me that this is a coincidence.

I don't know, you guys. This just makes me sad. 

Contrary to popular belief, reviewing is a very difficult thing that demands a lot of responsibility and maturity. Seeing horror author after horror author have their book tanked because it didn't work for some people personally is just disheartening to see. I want more YA horror. I'm happy to read as many horror books as I can. But I don't know if we'll even get any more if this behavior continues.



Do you like YA Horror? What's your favorite read? Let's talk YA.



More on reviewing: 

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Do You Watch Movie Adaptations of Books You Didn't Like? | YA Talk

So this has happened quite a lot lately. I've seen many books that I've read and not necessarily liked get movie deals. 

While I'm super happy for the authors, I always end up with the question: Do I watch the movie?

See, I really love seeing fictional characters come to life. It's one of the most fantastic things that can happen to a reader, to see the people you imagined on the big screen. I love that, even if it's with characters that I didn't like or books that I didn't Granted this hypothetical movie adaptation I'm talking about isn't a problematic adaptation of an also non-problematic book, should I go watch it just for that effect alone? Or should I support movies and adaptations of books I know I'm much more inclined to enjoy instead?

That One Time It Worked Out

I actually have an example for you guys where doing just that lead to something wonderful. If you've been on my blog for a while you know that I've been trying to work my way through the The Mortal Instruments series and the entire Shadowhunters universe by Cassandra Clare quite reluctantly. Yes, before you mention it, I'm aware of all the drama and schebang surrounding her. If you aren't - google.

I did watch the first movie adaptation long before I read the books and found it quite intriguing, but when I actually read them? Yikes. I hated them. Like, really deeply found them problematic and unenjoyable. But then the TV adaptation came along. Shadowhunters, race-bending (if you can even call it that) major characters into people of color, giving more love and attention to the single gay couple in the series that the author ever did in their books. Also very attractive actors. 

And boy, I grew obsessed with that series. It's mediocre at best but the diversity really hooked me because TV shows are just -so white- these days. It's also a plus that I've heard rumors that the author receives minimal profit from the series because of some rights issues.

If It's Diverse I'm In

In that case it worked out great. I found something super worth my time and great to support by giving books I really dislike another chance. I'm not sure if I would do this again, it really would probably depend on the book series and if there is anything in them that I deeply dislike or not. But what I'm trying to say is - it really depends on who's adapting it. There are so many failed book adaptations out there, and there are so many ridiculously white adaptations out there, and just as many that do their damn best to white-wash anything and everything in the books even if there was great representation in the first place. 

If I see a diverse adaptation of a book I didn't like, I'm definitely more inclined to supporting it. See, I didn't care much for THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken but when I heard that they cast a black girl as the lead role for a character that's white in the books (or, not specified, which usually means white in our world), I made a mental note to go watch these books. Because representation matters. 


Is this a one in a million thing? Has this happened to you before? 


Let's talk YA.


More:
Should We Separate Authors from Their Problematic Work? On False Representation and Whether Authors Deserve Call-Outs
Do We Owe it to Authors to Call Out Problematic Books Nicely?
What is POC rep to you? "Olive Skin", On the Page, and Non-#Ownvoices Authors 
Once You Go Diverse... Diverse Books are Better Than Non-Diverse Books


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Sunday, February 19, 2017

White Authors Who Write about Slavery | YA Talk




Due to harassment and lack of allyship this educational post has been removed. Why?

More on problematicness:
Should We Separate Authors from Their Problematic Work? 
Do We Owe it to Authors to Call Out Problematic Books Nicely?
What is POC rep to you? "Olive Skin", On the Page, and Non-#Ownvoices Authors 
All YA Talk posts

BEFORE YOU COMMENT -
I don't want to hear about white authors who did it well or answer your question about your slavery book. Please listen. I'm trying to make you understand.

For personalized advice on writing diversely and recognizing problematicness, check my Patreon.
If you want to support The Bookavid and posts like this, feel free to buy me a virtual coffee via ko-fi.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Difference Between Romanticized Mental Illness and Romance with Mental Illness | YA Talk



Today I've brought Leah from While Reading and Walking on the blog to talk a bit about mental illness romanticization. Enjoy!

As writers, readers, and reviewers, there is a lot of responsibility on our shoulders when it comes to the representation of mental illness. 

Bad representations of mental illness can do real damage. Teens especially in the midst of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more, can be influenced by what they read in books that they believe are faithful representations of what mental illness looks like—and what healing can look like.

I’ll be talking specifically about the relationship between mental illness and romance in fiction. romanticizing mental illness can mean a lot of things. Here, I’m talking about the common trope where someone has a mental illness and then falls in love. 

I am a novelist and book blogger who has depression and anxiety. There is obviously a range of experiences when it comes to these issues, and there are many more forms of mental illness that I can’t personally speak to. I am a cis white woman who has a privileged life in many respects, and others who do not have those privileges might have a different experience.

The Example

You have a character. Let’s call her Leia. She has anxiety and is susceptible to panic attacks. She often obsesses all day about small things. Her anxiety can arise from real-life issues or from nothing at all. 

She meets a girl. That girl is cute and funny and makes her laugh. What next?

  • The Right Path:
There is a lot of truth to the idea that anxiety and depression are easier to get through when you have someone by your side who will make a conscious effort to support you, listen to you, and understand what you’re going through. 

If every time you have a panic attack, there is someone on the end of the phone who is ready at all times to talk to you and talk you through that attack, then anxiety becomes just that little bit less scary to face. The world gets a little more secure when you have someone you can depend on, who can ground you and remind you that they aren’t going anywhere. That's absolutely okay to reflect in your writing.

  • The Wrong Path:
The problem is that many novels seem to imply that mental illness can be fixed and healed by being in love. That if Leia just finds this girl, her anxiety will melt away and never come back. She’ll never have another panic attack. These YA novels make it sound like love makes everything sunshine and rainbows, and mental illness flees from relationships like opposite ends of a magnet.

But having someone in your life you love doesn’t mean that your mental illness goes away. Saying it does implies that anxiety and depression are not real illnesses. But they are. Mental illness is physical, and chemical, and while it can be triggered by things in the outside world—for example, the death of a loved one or a break-up can lead to depression if you’re susceptible—it’s still a genuine illness. This is the same reason why Leia could be the sunshine optimism of her friend group, have an amazing job, pets, supportive family, and a new beautiful girlfriend and still have panic attacks. 

The Impact

When a person with mental illness reads a novel that implies that their conditions would melt away if only they had someone who loved them, it can have serious implications on their psyche and emotions. 


They can think, 'I have a boyfriend. I'm in love. Am I not in love? Or is something just wrong me?' or they can get into a headset where they believe that chasing love is the only way they'll ever get better. Teaching young people that the right way to heal is to fall in love and then things will get better ignores the real causes of mental illness, and can make people think that things won’t get better after all. 

Like I said: A person who makes you laugh can help to make a day with depression less awful. A person who grounds you can remind you that you have a handle on things in the midst of your panic attack. A person who makes you laugh might be able to get you out of the house on a day when you can’t leave your bed. 

  • But having Leia fall in love and then her panic attacks never return sends the message that loneliness is what causes mental illness. 
  • It implies that you need a savior to get better, and that you have no control over your own healing. 
  • It implies that mental illness is a neatly solved problem if you would just fall in love.

So what do I do? 

Write well.
Call out novels that clearly romanticize mental illness.
Be reasonable, but be vigilant too.

A romance in which the character has mental illness is not “romanticizing mental illness,” but it is a huge problem in the book community where we conflate the classical tale of being lost and completing your life with the addition of another person who balances you (classic love story) with the idea that a mental illness can be 100% healed if you would just find your soulmate.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Toxic Tropes to Include To Make Me Dislike Your YA Book Instantly | YA Talk






Sometimes I feel like tropes are being reused all the time in YA. 



Usually, I don't have a problem with that, but when it's the same five tropes over and over again in every single book I read, I simply don't want to continue.


But sometimes it's not about repetitiveness It's about being irresponsible. There are some things I would never want young teens to read about. 



Here are 5 things that make me dislike an author and their book instantly: 


5. Unhealthy Co-Dependency
While I do like a good epic romance, I am absolutely not a fan of books that make it seem like it's impossible to continue your normal life when your boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with you. This makes me give you the side eye and I certainly will knock off a star or two off the rating for that.

4. Romanticizing Illness
I will never understand why there are certain illnesses that seem to be romanticized more than others. Schizophrenia, bipolarity, AHDH not so much, but depression and anorexia? What makes this romantic? What's desirable about being sick? 

I think one of the best examples is what happened to THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I don't necessarily think that John Green is the kind of person who would even try to romanticize mental illness, but his fandom sure is. I've seen people tweet things like they wished their boyfriend and them had cancer so they could be cute like Augustus and Hazel. This is why this list of tropes is important to internalize and avoid. If you're a writer, please take this to heart.

3. Curing Mental Illness Through Falling in Love
This isn't a thing. I don't want anyone to think that this is a thing.

2. Slut-Shaming
NO! This will make me quit a book and write a scalding review. I never write mean reviews to deliberately make the author feel bad but things like this aren't okay. Simply because they teach a younger audience values that shouldn't exist in our society anymore. I will actually tell people not to read a book if I encounter this in a novel and with immediate effect never read something by the author ever again.

1. The Special Snowflake Girl who isn't Like Other Girls
I can't hear "she wasn't like other girls" anymore. There's nothing wrong with being ordinary. There's nothing wrong with being different either. I don't mind if you've got a protagonist like that but when said protagonist starts talking down other girls and feeling superior, I'm out.





Which tropes are deal breakers to you?

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

On #AuthorsBehavingBadly Online and What to Do So I Will Never Buy Their Books EVER | YA Talk



Many people who are active in the blogging community have probably interacted with authors at some point or have witnessed their interactions with other readers. 

Here are some things I've witnessed. Feel free to add your own stories.

Note: I won't mention any names here, only paraphrase stories that have already gone viral, cause, ya know, the message of this post is bullying isn't cool. Also they're sort of old news.



  • What not to do on twitter

Subtweeting on twitter and/or talking down to their readers and/or bloggers.

Every year around BEA or ALA time we have the same spiel. The old discussion whether bloggers deserve to be at conventions because some excessively snatch ARCs and sell them online.  And every year my so-called Blacklist of authors who will never gain any exposure or profit from me grows. It's value to know when not to say anything at all - there are enough authors who are hateful and mean towards bloggers.

It's not cool to write mean things about the people that essentially pay your bills by buying and/or reviewing your stuff.

Retweeting people who subtweet readers and bloggers. 

Retweeting seems like an easy way to state your opinion without actually having to talk trash. While it's very tempting, to me this doesn't make it any different from you writing an actual tweet. It makes you all the less sympathetic because I'll just think you're too cowardly to actually say what you're thinking in the fear that people may quote you.

I always wonder whether these people would actually dare to say these things to people's faces, there are too many authors to mention who are ready to hate on any and everyone who doesn't agree with them. Bullying is never cool, especially not if you're in the public eye. You're a role model for people. Remember that.

  • What not to do on Goodreads

Goodreads is a great platform for readers to discover new books and authors to get more exposure. But apparently, some people just don't understand the concept of boundaries.

Too often I see authors commenting on reviews, trying to justify their work, and too often this leaves reviewers startled. 

A particular case that gained quite the noticeable amount of attention is that of a well-known author attacking a well-known blogger and basically slandering them publicly because they didn't like their book, leaving anonymous comments, basically cyberstalking them and calling them out everywhere. The story even made it to Publishers Weekly.

Or that one author who showed up at a reviewer's house after they left a negative review on Goodreads. That story made it to The Guardian, of course, putting all the blame on the reviewer.

Stuff like this makes me want to quit blogging completely and tell everyone else to as well. So incredibly disappointing and discouraging - usually you see authors say "hey, please review my book it helps me so much" - but then you see other authors do stuff like that.


  • What not to do on your personal blog

While I am very much for freedom of speech and consider blogs to generally be a safe space, authors don't have the privilege of being able to "say what they want" because it's "their blog".

I think a certain degree of professionalism is a must for authors. It's a privilege to be a published writer, and one of the downsides is that people aren't going to like controversial (negative) opinions coming from them.

I've seen authors talk trash about negative reviews, complain, complain, complain about how reviewers aren't understanding their book, and generally being bitter about the lack of success.  Even screenshotting bad reviews and inviting their followers to attack the reviewer!

Think for a second here - what benefit does this serve? Do you genuinely think this is helping? Helping me to decide whose book not to buy, maybe.


  • What not to do on tumblr

Tumblr is known for its avid fandom culture. People make edits, people write fan fiction, and people ship characters. It all stops being fun when the author decides it's "hello kids I'm here to ruin the fun " time and starts to comment on every single headcanon of their book and to state what's actually canon according to them. 

Again, this isn't a "I witnessed this one time" thing. This happens quite often and i physically do not understand why authors think it's okay to barge in on fan conversations.

  • If they get tagged or receive a personal message, okay! Be my guest, glad you replied! 
  • If someone actively reaches out to them and ASKS them, okay! 
  • BUT don't just search a tag and decide to ruin everyone's fun by telling them how wrong they are one by one.

The thing is- people can see you, dear authors. 

People check your social media, typically after they have read one of your books or are planning to buy one. It's so, so, so important to keep your mouth shut about some topics that may offend. I'm not saying that you can't express opinions, but sprouting offensive and hateful non-sense and treating your readers horribly doesn't seem like a smart idea, does it? 

If you're one of those people that has too many opinions that may offend, hire a publicist to handle your official account and post your opinions on your personal, non-public account.



The four golden rules for authors on social media

  1. Don't say anything that you wouldn't say in an interview in person
  2. Don't talk trash about the people who pay your bills, oh my god, I can't believe I actually have to say this
  3. Don't chime in on conversations about your book that no one invited you to
  4. DON'T BE A BULLY


Who is on your author blacklist?



More on the Author / Reader relationship:
More YA TALKs

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Always the Same Love Interests? | YA Talk





If you read a lot of YA, you've probably also noticed that there's a trend in characters.

Meet Love Interest 1:
He's characterized through being
  • the epitome of the nice guy
  • probably has been friends with the heroine forever/ they're maybe even neighbors/ definitely know each other longer than love interest 2 and the heroine
  • always there for the heroine
  • they might have been in love at some point and/or are dating
  • either will mess up eventually or just flat out get ignored when the second love interest comes along
EXAMPLES:
Adam Kent from SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Simon Lewis from CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare
Mathias from ZODIAC by Romina Russell


Meet Love Interest 2:
He's characterized through being
  • the new guy!
  • suddenly comes into the heroines life 
  • smirks a lot
  • is sarcastic and ridiculously good-looking
  • not ashamed to hit on her 24/7
  • morally grey ... redeems himself at the end of the trilogy
  • almost always "gets the girl"
EXAMPLES:
Aaron Warner from from SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Jace Wayland from CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare
Hysan from ZODIAC by Romina Russell

Why I think it's unnecessary

  • You always know who's going to get the girl. SPOILER: It's always the bad guy after the redemption ARC
  • It's lazy: Seriously, at this point it's almost a stock character kinda situation. If you have to write a love triangle, please try to make it at least a little original. Like this it just seems like I'm reading fan fictions of the same characters over and over again.
  • It's boring and predictable
  • It's so easy to fix: Just throw in a little variation, kill one of them, make one of them unredeemable, honestly, at this point I'm so desperate for decent love triangles that I'd take anything that's even a little different.

What do you think of love triangles with the same characters over and over again?




Check back for more posts about YA!
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Tropes I Dis/Like In YA Romance Novels | YA Talk


Especially YA romance is a genre full of cliche tropes that keep getting repeated over and over again until only the mention of said tropes makes you want to rip out pages and eat them. 

Not that I've contemplated doing that. Or have I

Then there are tropes that make you want to get legally married to a book. Not that I've contemplated doing that either


Here are some from both categories.






ALL THE LIKE 

5. Having The Talk With Your Boyfriend Instead of Your Parents
I don't think I've ever read about a guy and a girl discussing protection before they get it on. This right here is the cause of teenage pregnancy, my friends.

4. No Love Poems!
Teenage guys don't read love poems ... actually, I can't think of a single teenager that reads love poems. Or anyone for that matter ... also I don't understand how that makes a dude more attractive, but ok.

3. Realistic Portrayals In Terms of Looks
19-year-old boys aren't super muscly or manly. Most 16-year-old girls don't even have fully developed breasts. And most importantly, no 19-year-old would go for a 15-year-old like it's so common in YA novels. That 19-year-old who does decide to settle for the slightly younger girlfriend is most likely not insanely attractive and caring and loveable but also deep and bruding. Come on.

2. No, or late love confessions
Love is a complicated thing and especially when I'm reading about teenagers falling in love I don't want them to confess their undying everlasting love for each other after one novel. If so, it has to be written over a long period told-time. One way to make me instantly like your novel more is to just leave out the I love you.

1. Breaking Up
Yes, you read that right. Not all romantic relationships work. It's a fact. Why do people always have to end up together in a romance novel? That's not how life works. 

DISLIKE, ABSOLUTELY DISLIKE 

5. Super Celibacy
Let's face it, the one thing teenage boys want the most is to get laid. We've all been teenagers, let's not even try to protest against this. Guys who act oh so super mature and understanding when the girl isn't ready yet, are rare. Especially among 15-21 year olds. Show me that one teenage guy who'll wait for you until marriage and I'll show you my pet unicorn.

4. Stalker Boyfriends
It's not cute to have the guy wait at your door every evening. It's not cute to have him even break into your house and wait in your bedroom because he wanted to see you. It's not cute if he goes completely bonkers whenever another dude does as much as look at you. It's creepy. This guy belongs in jail.

3. Neglecting Your Friends 
The second the hot guy/girl comes around the corner, the friends are passé. Who cares about your best friend of 10 years when you've got a hot guy waiting for you at home? 

2. Ridiculous Eye Colours
"His eyes were so green, that kind of green that you only find in flowers blooming deep down at the bottom of the sea."
"His eyes were so blue, not sky-blue, but the blue the sky turns after a storm."
Don't. Brown's a fine eye colour, too, yet I can't recall ever having read a novel with a super hot love interest that didn't have a stupidly exaggerated eye colour. Stop.

1. Instant Love
Yes, I do understand that it's the easiest way to get the side romance plot out of the way and get on with other oh-so-dramatic things that are about to happen in your novel, young debut author. But come on, do you really want to read a novel about two people that instantly fall in love without knowing each other? This doesn't only portray a completely distorted image of Love, but also gives young readers the wrong idea of what to look for in a partner - looks.


What tropes would you like to banish from or welcome into this world?

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Annoying YA Tropes That Make Me Want to Cry / Claw My Eyes Out | YA Talk





!!!This is highly sarcastic. If need be, try to fight me on my points. Doesn't make any them less valid, though.!!!





No.7: No means yes: If I tell you to go away that absolutely means "Kiss me and I won't be mad anymore"
If a girl/boy tells you to leave them alone and never speak to them again, don't show up at their house later that day blasting music from a boombox you're not in a goddamn John Hughes movie okay
If only half of the YA love interests did that, we'd have a surprising amount of books that were only 50 pages long.

No.6: "I KNOW I JUST MET YOU BUT I'LL DIE IF YOU EVER LEAVE ME"
I don't know why there seems to be this general impression that co-dependency is romantic... I don't get it, does somebody want to explain? Emotional manipulation isn't cool either.

No.5: I'm not human.... I'm half human, half wizard/fae/loch ness monster
I can't. I just can't deal with this anymore.
Rule of thumb: If you already have a supernatural love interest, don't try to make the other person a supernatural whatever, too.


No.4: "The minute I saw her, I knew we were meant to be"
...totally not because she's smoking hot. I mean, I instantly fell in love with her personality. Like, before we even talked. I could smell her personality.


No.3: The dark broody, smoking, leather-jacket-wearing, too-smart-for-school love interest who writes poetry in his free time and skips class, but is still an A student
You'd think a highly specific trope like that wouldn't be so common. Actually, this is probably one of the maybe five love interests you'll find in popular YA. It's not YA if the love interest isn't a sarcastic dark haired dude with stunning blue eyes the color of the sky at precisely 3pm, am I right?

No.2: Eye colors more important than personality
Who needs a personality when your boyfriend has sparkling sapphire green eyes. Seriously, sometimes I forget people don't only consist of hair and eye colors, do we even have faces? Doesn't seem that important.

No.1: Teenagers reading Charles Bukowksi / T.S. Eliot / Jack Kerouac 
Has anyone ever been a teenager? Nobody enjoys assigned reading. Nobody reads stuff like that in their free time?!! Come on?!!! What are the odds of the two starcrossed lovers to both share an obsession with The Catcher in the Rye? Just don't. Two people who are madly obsessed with some obscure indie band? Okay, that I'll buy, but not J.D. Salinger. 


What are some YA tropes that make you want to leave this planet?



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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do We Need Books About Mental Illness By Neurotypical People? | YA Talk


Mental illness is a topic that I've only recently started getting very interested in. Sadly, the books I've encountered that deal with OCD, depression, anorexia, bipolar disorder, and many more, are just not realistic. 


Raising Awareness: Why I think it's important

In everyday life there is no way you'll just stumble upon the different kinds of mental illness, unless you meet somebody who actually has it.

If it weren't for the internet, I had no idea social anxiety was a thing. And there aren't even only a few people that live with it. Same goes for many other mental illnesses - you just don't run into people randomly that care to inform you about it. I understand that no one wants to talk about a personal matter like that in real life. This is why I think books on those topics are insanely important.

...

But here's the twist. I don't think I can endure any more poorly researched novels, else my head will probably explode. I recently tried FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinella, I tried SOLITAIRE by Alice Oseman. Two books that are very popular and praised for dealing with sensitive topics. I don't want to make any guesses on whether those books are inspired by experiences of the authors or not - but I can tell you, both of them are pretty poor excuses for diverse books.


What really bugs me here: Being Allergic to Research

The two books I mentioned play into all the clichés you have in mind when thinking about social anxiety and depression. 
The characters are cliché, the plot development unrealistic, and romanticized. It just doesn't feel like you're reading a novel about a sick person. I mean that's what mental illnesses are, ILLNESSES. It's not fun, it's not quirky, it's an actual illness that limits peoples' lives. I want to learn about it, because I think it's important to raise awareness that these things do exists. But books like these aren't helping us. They are making things WORSE.

What good does a book that deals with a controversial topic, but just fuels stereotypes? 

We simply don't need it. I want books that show the ugly sides of mental illness. I want books that even just show both sides, it just doesn't have to be all sad and depressing. I'm just tired of reading about characters who are completely over the top, or miraculously cured when a cute love interest enters their lives. 

So please, non-neurotypical authors, help us out. I'm craving realistic portrayal


Do you think we need more books based on experience with mental illness?



Come back next tuesday for a new YA Talk!


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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On Trends and Why You Should Stop Mocking Them | YA Talk

When I tell people that I love to read books about vampires, I still get a bunch of weird looks. 
"Vampires are so 2007", "Vampires aren't in anymore"
"Vampires are sooo boring", "Omg did you like Twilight??!" - 

I can't even recall all the things people have said to me, because at some point, I just stopped listening.


Yeah, vampires may have been a trend in 2007, but that doesn't mean I still can't like them, right?

There actually is a crowd of people in the book blogging community that is all about the same stuff. You tend to find the same books on ten different blogs. Especially with YA, people play favorites. You can't run a YA book blog without even just having heard of Marissa Meyer, Stephanie Perkins, Tahereh Mafi, and Sarah J. Maas.

Whether it's the same five authors all over everyones' blogs or the same topics, sometimes posts tend to get repetitive. I see the same genre stuff on countless blogs all the time.

Is it a bad thing to like popular stuff?

Of course not. You can like whatever you want, and if you want to post about it, you do you. What bugs me isn't that people tend to go for the same genre/author books all the time, but seeing people pretend to like them just for the sake of belonging to the IT crowd. If you obsess about something for quite some time, you'll start to romanticize it. Same goes for books.

Why is it that you can't like what you like and not be afraid to show it?

What's in today, might be out tomorrow. I'm not a high schooler anymore, I don't care what people think is cool. My reading habits are maybe influenced by what's popular right now due to hypes, but I decide on my own whether I actually like it or not. You should, too.

Swimming with the stream in terms of reading preferences can get pretty exhausting and is not worth it. I used to try to keep up with the recent trends and at least read the books everyone is going on about. I don't anymore, because I don't want to have to keep up with anyone's expectations but my own. I like to read what I read and if it isn't what's cool right now, so be it.

Guilty pleasures don't exist

You may be mocking the trends of the early 2000s right now, but do you really think that dystopian fiction, those New Adult novels, or your paranormal romance books will still be cool in 2020? I don't think so.

I hate that we have to label everything a guilty pleasure that other people don't approve of. There should be no such thing as guilty pleasures. Whatever you enjoy should be what you're proud of reading. Even if it's smutty mom porn. I mean, these days that kind of stuff even makes it to the big screen ;).

No one should be ashamed of what they're reading, especially not on the internet.

Who the heck cares about trends anyways.

What is your stance on trends? 
Do you check out the popular stuff or do your own thing entirely?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Are Diverse Characters and Representation Unnecessary? | YA Talk





If you spend a ridiculous amount of time on social media and especially tumblr, it's impossible not to see the constant debates on diversity. Especially popular franchises are often accused of portraying white-washed versions of the world that have nothing to do with reality.

What do you think about diversity? Does it really matter?


What do I mean by diversity?
  • Generally challenging stereotypes in literature
  • Including more POC, disabled, lgbtq*, and mentally-ill characters
  • Fighting heteronormativity (assuming everyone is straight until states otherwise)

What the problem is:
  • Excluding certain people purposely from receiving accurate representation in YA 
On the left and right I included some pictures of the YA heroines in the most recent popular book-to-movie adaptations. Notice a trend there? They almost all look like clones. I could probably find even more of these if I looked hard enough. 

Apparently, in order to be a YA heroine in a popular book-to-movie adaptation you have to be:
  • dark-haired
  • around 1,65-1,70m
  • dark-eyed
  • white
The fun thing is, this isn't necessarily the fault of the authors. Some of these originally were canonically diverse characters but were then white-washed for commercial success in the media.  




  • Giving people a wrong sense of what is "normal"
Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior
(Divergent)
As a biracial woman, I hardly see myself represented in traditional media. Whether it's movies, books, or just advertisements. 

If you can't find a single character to properly identify with in media, you're probably going to feel like the odd one out. Of course it's impossible to make everyone feel included and represented, but is it too much ask to at least have a little diversity? I can't name more than five books at the top of my head that have characters in there that are specifically stated to be not white, not straight, not able-bodied.  

It has gotten so far that I as a reader assume everybody to be white and heterosexual unless stated otherwise. This is terrible and I absolutely feel ashamed of that if I'm being honest. I haven't noticed that I'm doing this until recently. To me the average YA heroine has a specific face. I guess that I'm not the only one, judging by the fact that the cast of the most popular franchises looks almost always the same.

I assume that everyone who is reading this would be surprised to see a girl in a wheelchair or an asexual black girl as a heroine. Don't tell me you wouldn't even notice, because that's not true. We are used to seeing the same faces / types of characters all the time that we don't even pay much attention to the fact the issues of other cultures are completely ignored.

  • Ignoring the Age of Globalization
You'd think that in a world where you can travel from one continent to the next in a day at will, there would be more intersection of cultures, people, habits and other things. 

The truth is, as a European I am rarely actively confronted with cultural diversity in media as I am in real life. 

Zoey Deutch as Rose Hathaway
(Vampire Academy)
If you look at your friends, I'm sure not all of them are Katniss Everdeens and Clary Frays. Not all teenagers are the same and not everyone has the same problems. There are so much different influences that you get as a citizen of the 21st century, yet none of them are represented in the media. Want to put it to the test?
  1. Name a book character wearing a hijab. Now name someone you know wearing a hijab.
  2. Name a book character with a disability. Now name someone you know with a disability. 
  3. Name a book character that's not a native of the country the book is set in. Now name someone you know that's not a native of your home country.
  4. Name a book character that's not heterosexual. Now name someone you know that is not heterosexual.
It's not like I'm making this stuff up. Different kinds of humans exist and it's a shame that some people don't even know about this because there is little to no representation. 

I wanna see different cultures.
I wanna see different people.
I wanna see new stories. 

I'm not talking about seeing a new dystopian or fantasy world, I wanna see real people going on those adventures.

What the problem is not:

  • Having white, heterosexual, able-bodied characters in the lead roles
Lily Collins as Clary Fray
(City of Bones)
I'm not saying that authors should only write about Black, Latino, Asian, or other characters, I'm saying that it's time to mix it up. 

There is nothing wrong with having a heterosexual white dark-haired girl 16-year-old girl in the leading role. 

But I'd like to see someone else once in a while. 

It's tiring to see the same people on the time, at this point I can assure you that I'd recognize at least one face in any upcoming YA book-to-movie adaptation, because I feel like the same actors are playing the same roles all the time.








What do you think about diversity? Do you think it's unnecessary?



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