In which I get a bit rant-y
All right, I’m probably not even going to post this, but I HAD to get it off my chest. GAH!
I read lots of books in a variety of areas. Adult, young adult. Science fiction, paranormal, contemporary, urban fantasy, historical, romance, mystery. Serious, funny, absurd.
I go to each of these books for a different reason. Sometimes I want to be scared. Sometimes I want to cry or be deeply moved. Sometimes I just want to go along for the ride while we’re slaying demons or trying not be seduced by one.
I don’t consider any of these genres or subgenres to be lesser than another. They’re just different. Depending on my mood or what’s going on with my life, a certain kind of book will appeal to me more at one moment than another. I think a lot of people are like that.
So, can someone please explain to me why we insist on valuing these books differently? I’m not talking about whether you enjoy more one than the other–I’m okay with that. We all do that.
I’m talking about openly praising one type of book for being better than others because of it’s NOT in a particular category or putting down another because it is in said category.
I just finished reading an article–not a blog entry or a personal list but an actual official article from news source–that listed five or so YA books as the best of 2010. And I agree that every single one of those books on the list deserved to be there, based on my own experience with them or what I’d read about the books from others (still need to read a couple of them myself.)
But what bugged me and sent me straight to my keyboard to write this was the last line of the article, which was something to the effect of, “See? Good books in the Young Adult category and not a single paranormal creature among them.” Like this was something to be proud of or–and this is what irritated me–that the category of “good books” and “paranormal” could not overlap.
First, it’s misleading to assume or imply that YA is made up of nothing but paranormal stories. Yes, there are a lot of them and yes, SOME of them get lots and lots of attention. But there are many amazing contemporary, historical, mystery, suspense, and spy novels, too. (A few recent ones off the top of my head: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe, DUFF by Kody Keplinger, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers, Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles.)
I know the perception is that YA is all paranormal, all the time–and I know that can be frustrating for those who don’t enjoy that subgenre–but it’s not actually helping to counteract that situation by writing a sentence that implies you had to wade through mounds of paranormal crap to find these few diamonds in the rough. If you want people to know about other books outside the paranormal genre, then recommend more of them. There’s no need to bash on your way out the door. There just isn’t. You’re certainly not going to endear yourself to paranormal readers by doing so.
Yes, there are lots of paranormal/science fiction/fantasy stories out there right now and I’m not even going to pretend to be less than thrilled about that. That means I get to read and write what I love. Period. How awesome is that?
But do we need to hate on an entire subgenre just because it’s popular? Do we need to assume that just because it’s popular and kids like it that it must be junk? I don’t get that.
Believe me, I know there’s less than stellar story-telling out there–everywhere, in fact. Not just in the paranormal genre. And I’m all for calling a spade a spade. You don’t like a book? That’s okay, you don’t have to. You don’t HAVE to like anything. There are lots of books that are wildly popular in the paranormal genre that I have not been able to connect with or finish. Fine. That’s just how it is. No biggie.
But to dismiss an entire subgenre simply because of what it is, without regard to the quality of story-telling or writing within it, doesn’t make sense.
If it makes you laugh and cry but has a vampire in it, is it less of a book than one that makes you laugh and cry WITHOUT a vampire in it?
Why? Who says?
I think there might be a perception that working with paranormal creatures is easier because you can just make stuff up. But here’s the deal–writing is hard no matter WHAT you’re writing.
I feel like this is the same attitude that makes comedies less likely to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Do we need to cry in order to acknowledge the quality of something? Can’t evoking emotion–whether it’s laughter or tears–and engaging the reader/viewer–in whatever way possible–simply be enough? Why do we have to qualify it?
Again, we’re not talking about whether you liked a certain book or not. We’re talking about lining books up under the label of “Best Books of 2010.” The selection for that list is completely opinion-based, I know. We have no objective way to measure this kind of thing.
So, maybe my issue is more with how that list in the article was labeled. If paranormal books aren’t even in the running, not even up for consideration, then say that. Call it The Best Non-Paranormal Books of 2010. Then I’m fine with it.
Whew. End rant.
What do you guys think? Am I off the mark here? Blinded by my love of all things supernatural? 🙂