I've been talking for awhile about how I want to start having more discussion based posts, and discussion starters. Sometimes, there are just those things you come across in YA books that make you stop cold what? I like to call them 'wtf ya' moments, and I'm hoping we can talk about them.
But this idea is highly dependent on all of you -- otherwise I'm just talking to myself -- So if you have an opinion, please share it! And remember, too, that everyone is entitled to express their opinions, too, in a mature fashion; all trolls will be sent back to their dungeons. You have been warned.
So this first one I want to talk about is the state of relationships in YA these days. There's this unsettling trend in some of the most popular and acclaimed YA books lately where the relationships seem borderline abusive, yet are presented as desirable.
It's one thing to write about an abusive or questionable relationship, and make it clear that there is an issue -- whether the main characters seem to see the issue or not, the relationship is presented in such a way to make it clear to the reader that something is not right.
But lately, it seems that the popular tactic is to take the bad boy stereotype to such an extreme that the "love interest" of the book may be extremely controlling, violent, degrading -- at times he may even confess murderous intentions. I am not exaggerating. But because he is dreamy and smarmy, and either says he'll change, implies he'll change, or, you know, the girl really thinks he'll change, well -- then it's okay, right?
At least, that's what the books seem to imply. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of a good antihero story. But these bad boys take it well beyond "bad" into creepy territory, and yet are set up to be the hero of the piece, the guy girls squee and swoon about. And this isn't helped at all by the wilting female leads, who are too willing to fall into damsel in distress mode, and far too forgiving of -- and even inviting of -- bad behavior.
I have a lot I want to say on this, but first, I just want to get the ball rolling by bringing the question to you.
Do authors have a moral responsibility to represent appropriate thinking and appropriate relationships, especially in YA? Do publishing houses?
Are there lines that shouldn't be crossed, and if so, where are those lines?
Many of these books are defended very strongly by teen girls, and many of these creepy characters are becoming the figures of their fantasies -- what do you make of the trend in over the top, borderline abusive bad boys? Is this a reflection on our society? The age group?
Where do you stand on some of these stories (like Hush, Hush, et al), and their dangerous male leads and less than strong female leads?
Please, leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments; let's get a discussion going!
I'm planning a little discussion piece (aka rant) on the matter as part of my Valentine's Day Love Bites event, and I'd love to be able to quote some of you in the discussion!
Also, if you have anything you'd like to see discussed in an upcoming post, let me know in the comments!