Let's Talk: Dark Books on the YA Market

Friday, June 14, 2013




Let's Talk is a new weekly feature here at i swim for oceans. I think it's important that we all have our say, and there's something to be said for raising our voices. Simply put, here on the little old blog, I like to host some of my very own discussion posts because, well, I like to converse with you all.

And so, Let's Talk will feature questions or prompts, which I will answer, too. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don't, it's my hope that Let's Talk will at least get you thinking...and maybe even get you discussing with the rest of us!
What do you think about darker books on the YA market?

Most of you know that I'm a huge fan of issue books. I think there's a brilliant, understated skill to darker novels that have the ability to bare the very essence of brute human nature. I, personally, think these books are incredibly important for the younger generations because it encourages dialogue and discussions. It brings otherwise forbidden issues out into the open and creates a discourse. 

However, there are definitely those people that feel that darker issue books have no place on the YA market. Some people believe these books should be catered towards a mature audience, as younger readers might be damaged or scarred by reading these books. I don't discount that darker issue books are challenging to read. In fact, I believe the should be hard to read. If they weren't the subject matter wouldn't have such a hard-hitting impact upon reading audiences. 

Some of my favourite books are those that are the most painful to read. They make me think. They challenge me to explore some of the most painful and degrading human emotions and conditions. Most of all though, they make me feel. I also believe that if these books are done well, they are vital to the YA market because they challenge readers to step outside their comfort zones, empathize for others and, in some cases, come to terms with issues of their own. The most successful darker YA books on the market today for me include, but certainly aren't limited to:


What do you think about darker books in the YA market? Do you think they're important? Do you have a list of darker issue books that have done more for you than others? I think these books are important, but I'd love to hear what others thinks, as well! 

19 comments:

  1. I wrote out a massive comment in reply to this, and then realised I should just post it on my blog!

    My Let's Talk post

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    1. Thanks, Hannah! I put your link up in the linky so everyone else can visit your post, as well! :)

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  2. I agree that dark YA books are important to read. These are the books that have the most important life lessons and which I'll never tire of reading. I also believe that it's incorrect for people to say that they only target teenagers. I know many adults that love to read YA books :)

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    1. I'm an adult that loves YA! Haha but seriously, I agree...they're important, and I think they help inspire a love of reading. That's unparalleled.

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  3. I'm with you Melissa, I definitely think the darker YA reads have a place. Just like the light and fluffy books. Or the LGBT books. I love that there's such a wide range of topics available to people, and the beautiful thing about it is we all have a choice. If you don't think darker books are appropriate? That's completely fine, don't read them. But leave them there for others who might walk away from them having learned something about themselves, or found comfort because someone else understands what it is they're going through.

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    1. Amen to that, Jenny! It's almost like censorship. We have the choice whether or not we want to read them, so butt out of other people's decisions, eh?

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  4. I love issue books because I always feel like I learn something from them. I do feel like I haven't read too many of them, to be honest and I will look into your list, if ever I want to try more out.

    While I do love issue books, I feel like I need to be in the mood to be able to read them. Sometimes, reading these dark books leave me in such a bad/depressed mood for days because of how emotionally invested I become in the characters, especially if the ending is not all that bright and shiny.

    I definitely think that dark YA books are important and they should be classified as YA itself and not just for mature audiences. Like I said, I'm 20 and still learn something everytime I read a dark YA book, so it's important for teenagers as well as adults to be exposed to such material because it could potentially be quite helpful in their lives.

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    1. Well put, Nick. I think I like the darker books because I actually get a glimpse at something beyond myself, but I definitely understand why some people like fluffier books, too, you know?

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  5. I love darker books simply because when written well, they really reach out to a minority audience and also educate the masses. Not to mention I kind of love having my heart broken, like with Raw Blue, but that's probably just me... ;)

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  6. I tend to stay away from issue books because I'm basically a giant coward, but Raw Blue is one of my all time favorites, and I HAVE just ordered Life Is But a Dream after reading a friend's review.
    My last issue book was A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger... not for everyone since it's a bit weird, but I really liked it. Maybe I'll step out of my comfort zone a bit more often. Then again, maybe not. :D

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  7. I definitely agree that issue books have their place in YA. It's good to educate teens about these kinds of things. It's as simple as that. The only issue book I've read from your list is Raw Blue- which I just recently finished- and while I didn't love it quite as much as some, I did enjoy it and thought it had a great message.

    Lovely post, thanks for sharing! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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  8. I think darker books certainly have a place in YA. Books are an important avenue by which readers can learn about different issues, understand them and truly empathize with people going through such difficult things. I've read Wintergirls, which certainly profoundly affected me. I've also read Speak, which hurt my heart.

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  9. While I do prefer the fluff and fun, every once in a while, I really love a strong, deep, dark and painful book to shake things up for me. WINTERGIRLS was one of those major reads -- so heart-rending and fabulous but it was a long while before I read another issue book.

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  10. Sure I think dark books have a place. I find the idea that young people - even children - should only read about sparkly pink unicorns to be ridiculous. Look at Grimm's Fairy Tales. 100-200 years ago no one bothered to hide the harshness of reality from children. Probably because so many of them witnessed difficult times given high mortality rates. It's silly to think that children will be broken if anyone tries to burst their bubble.

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  11. I loved Wintergirls. I'm pro YA issue books, especially if it sparks discussion with a teen and his or her parents.

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  12. This is such an interesting topic. Darker reads definitely should be open for YA audiences but I don't know if most of them would go for it. As a college student, I appreciate them and their message so much more now than I ever did as a teen. They just never attracted me before, I wouldn't say that it damaged me in any way, but left me a little disturbed. Definitely. But I guess that was their purpose. Anyway, an option should always be available if a young reader want to go for issue books.

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  13. I'm a HUGE fan of issue books too!
    "Some of my favourite books are those that are the most painful to read. They make me think. They challenge me to explore some of the most painful and degrading human emotions and conditions. Most of all though, they make me feel." YES! THAT!
    And I agree, dark/issue books are important and definitely have their -not small!- place in YA as well as in all the other genres.

    I haven't read any of the books you listed though. (kinda...shocking...?) *goes to add books to her tbr*

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  14. I am a huge fan of dark YA. I think books need to make you think and expose the ugly side. But more than expose the ugly side, it needs to show the beauty that can be found too.

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  15. I tend to read lighter books but I still appreciate darker YA-Life Is But a Dream was a fantastic read that was absolutely beautifully written.

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