I really do hate those jumpin’, spinnin’ kicks
I’m afraid a lot of the contemporary Young Adults fiction that I read isn’t fit to line a bird cage.
Some of this is just dumb adults cleverly (in their own minds) writing down to young readers. But there’s also stuff out there that’s downright toxic.
Then again, there’s fiction written for adults that’s even worse. You wouldn’t think that would even be possible, but a lot of authors manage it.
The thing to remember is: The fiction we consume in such great quantities is a passive form of self-education. So be careful of what you teach yourself.
“The Immortals”? Immortality under these conditions would be unbearable.
You wouldn’t have thought it possible to stage a literary train-wreck as total as Jon Skovron’s Misfit; but in Blue Moon, Alyson Noel (don’t tell me that’s what it says on her birth certificate) certainly gives it a serious try. Imagine being stuck in high school for, oh, four hundred years or so. But reading this book only feels like that.
You may wonder what I was doing, reading these really stupid books in the first place. Well, I was preparing to be a guest on a radio program, discussing Young Adults fiction. After you read a few of these, you kind of lose heart and need to take eight or nine years off. I guess I’m ready to go back on the air, if anyone wants me.
I would love to see one of these “teen lit” authors try to tell a story without cliches. Betcha anything they couldn’t do it. It would be funny–like watching someone try to dribble a loaf of bread down the basketball court.
These books are so bad, I find it almost sinister. Is it part of some incredibly subtle and complicate plot against civilization?
There are some adults who shouldn’t even try to write about teenagers. Or anything else, for that matter. John Skovron is one of these authors. Someone should stop him.
I haven’t read anything as bad as Misfit in a while. I wonder if it would be any worse if Skovron wrote about adults.
Avoid this book as you would avoid the plague.
Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. Especially if you review Young Adults books.
I wonder how hard editors have to work to get some of this stuff in shape to be published. I asked my editor, once (she’s now the editorial director for a major New York publishing house) how, when she was so hard on me, and so demanding of excellence, she could have let a certain book slip into print. She answered, “You didn’t see it the way it was when we got it. I won’t even try to describe what was wrong with it.”
Yesterday we got a Christmas card from the Rushdoony family, featuring a group photo of the whole family. And there in the back row was the little boy whose father used to read Bell Mountain to him. Yup, there he was with a beard and mustache, now a man.
Good grief! Has that much time gone by? And where did it go, who has it now? Can I get it back?
I wonder if the boy, now a man, still likes my books. It’s been my experience that the books you liked best as a child, you’ll still like as an adult. Maybe that’s just because I, at ten years old, had impeccable taste in literature. Or is it that I liked those books because they were just plain good?
I wonder if the boy, now a man, will someday read Bell Mountain to his children.
It was eight years ago, but I think this is still the best interview I’ve had–largely due to the thoughtful questions asked by Chalcedon’s Andrea Schwartz. Here’s the audio for the whole thing, about 23 minutes long. I apologize, in advance, for my slow way of talking. As for my voice, it’s ideally suited for mime.
At the time, I had three Bell Mountain books in print, with No. 4, The Last Banquet, ready to go to press. Here in 2018, I’m waiting for No. 11, The Temptation, to come out, and writing No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever.
How many more to come?
As many as God gives me to write.
In 1605 there was a plot to blow up the English Parliament, with King James I, and replace the Protestant government with Catholics. The idea was to hide many barrels of gunpowder under the Parliament house and blow it sky-high. This has come to be known and memorialized as the Gunpowder Plot. One of the plotters, Guy Fawkes, was actually caught just before he could light the fuse.
Sounds like it’d made a great historical novel.
But Nadine Brandes has written it as a Young Adults fantasy novel, and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I just don’t get it.
We love to read, we want to pass that on to our children: there’s no limit to what the voracious reader can learn. But we don’t want to be reading a load of baloney, just so we can say we turned a lot of pages.
I think the reason this fantasy didn’t quite make it is because there was no reason to write it as a fantasy in the first place.
Too bad. We would like to understand how the conditions of religious life in England in those days, ostensibly Christian religion, could have led to the Gunpowder Plot. We would like to use its history as a guide to avoiding those mistakes!
But we’ll need other books for that.
After some headaches getting the ol’ computer into gear this morning, I happened to think of this book I’d read some years ago: Martin the Warrior, by Brian Jacques.
Sometimes I just don’t get it. Like, Mr. Jacques sold 30 million books–no, I don’t get it. His books were adapted as TV shows and even… an opera! I read a couple of them and really, there was nothing much there.
Not that the book was truly awful. But the only thing memorable about it was all those dinner scenes. I didn’t get that, either.
Every now and then, in my search for suitable reading matter for children, I turn up gold–like, for instance, The Green Ember, by S.D. Smith.
It’s a heroic fantasy featuring rabbits with swords, instead of people. And it’s about faith, hope, family, and self-sacrifice. This puts it miles apart from most of the Young Adult fiction that’s out there; and it’s written well enough for adults to enjoy it, too.
We do need more of this, much more. People of all ages consume huge amounts of “entertainment,” mostly without realizing that this is a passive but very effective form of self-education. We need to consume and digest more faith, more hope, more charity.
More Green Ember, less Spirit Animals.
Some of the stuff you find in Young Adults fiction, it’d make a jackal retch. But the business at hand is always to undermine the family.
And this isn’t even the really filthy stuff that wins award and gets endorsed by the American Library Assn.