Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Meandering Monday (4)

OK so last week, there was a small controversy on Twitter about a review on GoodReads for the upcoming book Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey (Fall 2011). The ARC is not out yet and won't be for a while, so really, there shouldn't be any reviews for it yet. But what made this review bad was the fact that the girl said the summary sounded so amazing and she really wanted to read it, however because of the gay romance in the book, it really turned her off. She even asked why authors have to put gay people in books and ruin them.

You can imagine how angry these comments made people. The review has since been taken down because it was reported by a few people, but before that, there were like 10 pro-gay comments (none anti-gay). What sucked was that someone had actually "liked" the review. I checked out who liked it and the person had the Anna and the French Kiss cover as their icon! HOW CAN YOU LIKE ANNA AND BE ANTI-GAY?!!? There's a scene where anti-gay remarks toward someone perceived as gay weren't tolerated and an awesome thing happened. Also, the author Stephanie Perkins is pro-gay. So yeah, that bothered me too. If you like Anna, you must be pro-gay; otherwise, you cannot like the book. I revoke your privileges. And yes, I do have the power to do that.

Anyway, why do authors have to put gay people into books? Well, because we exist. We want characters to identify with too just as everyone else does. But even besides that, what does it matter? I still identify with straight male characters even if I don't find myself attracted to women like these characters do. Or even if I don't, a good story is still a good story! I'll read it if it's compelling enough. But I certainly don't let something as stupid as sexual orientation keep me from a book (especially since like almost all of literature would be off-limits to me).

Moving on to a different aspect, in this person's profile, she talks about books being "clean", i.e. no sex (apparently, two boys falling in love falls under this) and no cursing, and how she loves those books. Now, if those things make you uncomfortable, okay, I understand (sorta, though sometimes I think these people need to open their eyes and lighten up). But they shouldn't necessarily keep you from a book or if they do, DON'T RATE THE BOOK BECAUSE OF YOUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS OF IT. Or even just because you don't like the idea of two boys falling in love. For all you know, all they do is cuddle and kiss just like straight couples do in other YA books. So what difference does the gender make?

However, I do think that sex and cursing in YA books can be necessary. I mean, it happens; including these things makes the books realistic. By not including it, you run the risk of being deemed unrealistic and out of touch with today's society. That doesn't mean books have to include it and I've read quite a few that pull it off really well and it still sounds right. Sometimes it can be too much- I've heard that about Swoon by Nina Malkin and I think there could have been less of the F word in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, so you have to find the right balance for your story and the characters in it.

Anyway, what do you guys think about the controversy as well as sex and cursing in YA?


  1. Ugh, I want to curse and flail and rant but I'll restrain myself here on the Internetz out of professionalism. But UGHHHHHH. I don't really have anything to add to what you just said right now; but maybe this will make a good discussion post later.

    Just...UGH. Ignorant people!

  2. I loved SWOON. There were some scenes which were a bit over the top, but they weren't graphic at all. It felt more like magical realism.

  3. Hello! It's your best Canadian friend, Cat the Prude here! *waves* Now I am a person who can't even watch a stupid soap commercial because I don't like seeing naked parts (ha!) and yes, I will admit that I do not like sex in books because I don't like sex in anything because it makes me uncomfortable. (Heck, I couldn't even read the anatomy chapter of my biology text book in high school! Hello?! There are NAKED PARTS IN THAT CHAPTER! GAH!)

    BUT...what I do to avoid that if I need to? I SKIP THE PAGES. And carry on reading. Heh. Here's the thing - YA books have nothing on Urban Fantasy novels in the ways of sex. YA actually handles that much better, it is not gratuitous, it's not erotica it's just realism. I'm OK with that.

    Swearing? Well, I think it might be a generational thing because when I was a teen there was no swearing in books and now there is. *Most* of the time I don't even notice it. When I do it's likely because it is over used or just not appropriate for what's going on. You know, when there is swearing just have swearing? But that's just bad writing, not my opinion on the matter.

    And I am happy to see gay characters show up in books - it is about time! What we need is less of the "token flamboyant gay bff" and just characters who are gay and that's it. Just like characters who are female or male.. you know?

    There will always be hater people and people who want to keep books as "clean as the Bible" (which I don't know if you have read, but it's not really the most family friendly read either!) and those people should just stick to the children's section of the store - picture books and happy little Pat the Bunny. Because books mirror real life as you get into YA and older. Suck it up and deal with it, yo.

    (Sorry, James, I'm hopped up on sinus medication and it has made me rambly!)

  4. squee! Debate! I love stuff likes this!!!!!

    I'll comment again with a link since I have to break this down and anylize it before making the entry

    but I will be back!

  5. Pro-Gay? Isn't that like being pro-breathing or pro-kitten? I just don't get people sometime.

  6. I'm not going to comment on this particular situation because I don't know all the details. But on this general question:

    "Anyway, why do authors have to put gay people into books? Well, because we exist."

    You've said it all there.

  7. Steph- LOL yes, I feel the same way. Come back anytime to discuss!

    Lenore- I haven't yet read the book, so I can't say too much about it other than what I've read from reviews. I'll probably love it whenever I get to it.

    Cat- Rambling is what I'm all about! Never feel bad about rambling here. But exactly- I do think YA books handle sex and cursing very well the majority of the time and it's usually not gratuitous or there for shock value. I'd also love to see different kinds of GLBT people too; I think we're getting there!

    Kit- Can't wait to see your thoughts!

    Melissa- Thanks for saying pro-kitten, lol. If you'd said pro-dog, I'd be like "I do not agree" as I am not a dog person. But very true.

    Jen- Thanks! :)

  8. First of all I totally missed all that twitter drama, but I am glad that review got taken down. Prejudice against anything is just like a poison in this society. It does not do anyone any good and just brings people down. No one has the right to judge anyone or anything especially content that you have not even read yet. I could keep going about this, but I am going to stop. I am just sorry that person's negative energy had to seep into our book world.

    Onto the cursing and sex in YA. I think that those things should not be avoided on purpose and not put in just for shock value. There is a way to do everything and as long as it is realistic and the development of the plot fits with the characters I am happy. It frustrates me when authors do everything possible to skirt around the issue or when it is in there just to be in there. Does that make sense?

    Anyways, boo on people who are mean. And yay to my awesome friend James for bringing this subject to our attention it in a tactful way so we can talk it out. :)

  9. Ok change of plans
    I'm going to email you my pov on this subject
    I'm also going to email you a kind of responce I had to some of the things you said in your blog

    PS. can you link me this persons Goodreads account? if you don't want it public you can just email it but I really would love to see this persons Goodreads account >>

  10. I guess I just expect more from book lovers, more tolerance, more acceptance, more love. I love that through books you can really learn to appreciate people and cultures outside of your daily life. Perhaps this ignorant commenter has yet to read enough books to open up her mind. If she continues reading YA she can hardly avoid them, authors are no longer afraid to write realistic characters dealing with more than who to take to prom or getting their first kiss.