I've been mulling over whether to post this or not. I know it's probably going to ruffle a few feathers, but as a responsible reader/writer/mom, I feel obligated to put my thoughts out there.
I love young adult novels. I love the teenage angst and turmoil, the first loves and fights, the wild ways in which authors twist the simplest of ideas into something bigger and brighter in a young person's life. I read and write paranormal/fantasy young adult novels because it's a change from the normal, boring, day to day life. I get enough "real-life" by living it and love to escape into the not-so-real-life; it's like a little vacation. But within these stories, both contemporary and paranormal, are real-life issues and concerns. In young adult novels (as there is in teaching children in a classroom), there is a fine line of what is acceptable to discuss and what is not acceptable. One of these particular issues - the one that has bothered me lately - is sex in YA.
Sex is a part of life. It creates life and gives us joy, as well as pain. Children (as in under 18) are having sex younger each year that passes. This is not new - I've been there, done that - and it's not my place to judge what each child/parent's situation is. But what has been difficult for me to decide is where that fits in young adult novels. I'm a firm believer that you can't skip the subject - a reader would see through that - but I don't believe that authors should dramatize it either. And don't get me wrong...as of today, I've not read a young adult book that I felt took sex to a concerned level. The books, from what I've read so far, are okay, and truthfully, that's not what I'm concerned with nor why I write this post.
The young adult genre is growing, and growing fast. Not only to teenagers, but their moms and twenty-somethings, and (thankfully) males. It's also growing down, to the fourth and fifth graders who are at a higher reading level. Teachers don't usually provide YA books in their classrooms, and parents ultimately make the the decision of what they let their child read. Personally, it scares me when I see ten and eleven-year-olds reading Breaking Dawn, as I believe they are way too young for that sort of thing. And yes, choice of what my sons read is an issue that I can control, but what happens when the marketing efforts of the book cross the line? What about when the marketing efforts cross over to cater more to the 20+ somethings and older, rather than the "young adults" the books were originally written for. Case in point? ...http://www.youtube.com/user/VLCPhotoProductions#p/u/2/bD0rTs0nF2Y
Now I'm a huge fan of Cassandra Clare and the TMI series and I hate to call that video out specifically, but I have to ask...which age group was targeted in that marketing ad called "Unedited DSAS (Dirty Sexy Alley Scene)" as part of the promotion for the CoFA release? The adult readers or the teenager readers? If it was made for the teenagers, then I think we have a serious issue on our hands. I don't want to sound like a prude, but I was absolutely STUNNED when I saw that released and promoted by VLC Productions and consequently, placed on numerous book blogging websites. High Schoolers, middle schoolers, ten and eleven-year-olds were presented with that as one of several previews for the 4th book. Am I the only one who sees the problem with this?
Now, as a adult, sure it's hot and sexy and what not, but when I think of what the young adult genre represents, I do NOT think of that. And I don't want to. If a sexy alley scene is in the book, fine, but let's not dramatize in video and feed it to our kids in a "cookie" teaser. There's no need to put it on a platter and hand-feed it to them. If I had a daughter who was 15, would I want to show her that video and say, "Look honey, this is what you should want a boy to do to you."...??...absolutely NOT! So why would we put that out there for other womens' daughters (and sons) to see? Now, please don't get me wrong..I can't wait for the release of the book on Tuesday. I've had it pre-ordered for months and the moment it arrives, I probably won't emerge from my room until it's completely read. This concern of mine has nothing to do with CoFA or the TMI series - it's simply the risky marketing perspective.
I don't know. Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong and maybe I should consider this as "just" one instance, but something tells me that this is only the beginning of a slow change in what the market considers acceptable for YA. All I know is, my writing of YA won't go in that direction and I'm glad I have that choice to keep it age appropriate.