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? πŸ™‚

5 comments to “In which I get a bit rant-y”

  1. Erinn
    · January 9th, 2011 at 6:07 pm · Link

    The Oscars only reward drama’s. That’s it. If you want best acting, try Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor at the Dinner table scene- low brow humor, yes, but GENIUS acting- every character was well defined and interesting.

    It’s like Cannon Literature is mostly dead British authors.

    Apparently the only way to be good is super depressing.

    I knew I was screwed never to be published when I realized I wrote a YA book where no one dies and the characters get along well with their parents.

    Um, not that books where there’s a main character who’s dead and she has a frosty relationship with her mother isn’t a good book. *looks around to see if anyone noticed*

    A good book is a good book- picture book, MG, YA or adult. Whatever. Sometimes they make us laugh or cry.

    I’ve got your back sista friend.

  2. Rachelle Hayes
    · January 11th, 2011 at 5:52 pm · Link

    Preach on!

    I’m tired of people dismissing paranormal books as crap because they think it’s all about sparkling characters and touchy feely romance!

  3. Cam
    · January 11th, 2011 at 10:30 pm · Link

    I do enjoy paranormal YA books. Whether it’s forbidden romance or just about a group of vampires, as long as it’s good I like it. But sometimes I do get tired of seeing mostly paranormal YA books. Every time I browse through the book stores I have trouble finding something that isn’t about forbidden love. So I would like to see more historical fiction or high school drama books but there is still nothing wrong with paranormal.

  4. shannon
    · January 14th, 2011 at 1:50 pm · Link

    i loved the first book. can i just say that you are amazing? i am so excited to read the second book… how can i wait till june?! but im sure with work and school coming up itll be here before i know it. lol not to metion the friends ill be encountering along the way. sooo thx stacy and keep on writing cus college students really do love paranormal books too! i find them quite interesting and books about fantasy too. if you wanna throw in a couple fairies thatd be cool too. or what if alona had an accomplice? hmmm…. well bye! =)

  5. Esther Shaindel Bernstein
    · January 30th, 2011 at 11:36 pm · Link

    Wow, that is so sad! There’s a reason paranormal is so popular with teens, and that should not be ignored or degraded!

    I’m totally on board with your argument that you could like one genre better than another, but that doesn’t mean that one is actually objectively better than the other. When I reviewed a thriller, which is not a genre I usually read, I did my research, reading other blogs and reviews of other thrillers to see what thriller readers look for in a book. Because though I tend to read books with more emotion and character development, that in no way means that books that are plot-driven with little focus on character are any less! Whenever a book doesn’t “do” it for me, I try to make sure to keep saying that while I didn’t enjoy it, others might. (That doesn’t include books I think are just badly written…) πŸ™‚ It really irks me when whole categories are dismissed out-of-hand simply because the reader enjoys other genres more.

    And I just went on a bit of a rant myself. This is one of my triggers, though. Thanks for addressing it!

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