Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Can't They?

A lot of my blog posts revolve around random discussions I happen to find on various writing boards and what not. This discussion revolved around teen fiction versus adult fiction (silly, discussion, in my opinion), and a lot of people said they enjoyed adult fiction more because you can write about a broad range of experiences that you can't with teen fiction. My only answer to this is why? Sure, I'd find it hard to read a novel about a teen doctor (there are teen geniuses, but I don't think the average teen wants to read about those, because teen geniuses can be perceived as arrogant), or even a teen lawyer. But as far as emotional possibilities, there are just as many emotional possibilities, if not more, for teens as there are for adults.

People seem to forget that there are teens in the world who have experienced more than some adults will ever experience, and have seen more of the world than some adults ever will. Just because they're young doesn't mean they lack experience. Experience can be gained through age, but if you're forty years old and have never moved from where you were born and haven't really traveled, then I'm not going to trust you as a voice of authority on life experience. I'm going to trust the sixteen-year-old army brat who has moved around with his or her parents and has visited exotic places, like Italy, Africa, or Japan.

Continuing on, someone replied that it's ridiculous to write a story about a teen who goes to war and makes enemies. Said person also used an example that adult fiction is more complex because a 40 year old can get arthritis while loading a gun (a teen can have an epileptic attack while loading a gun. *gasp!* Teens and epilepsy? That's preposterous!). In any case, why can't a teen go to war over the summer and make enemies, especially if it's a fantasy novel, an alternate universe of sorts, that requires teens to join the military once they turn sixteen? It's very possible. Hundreds of years ago, that would have been the case with teen males.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is an excellent example of some of the things teens are capable of. The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen in a place called Panem where, to show the power of the Capitol, names are drawn from different districts, and these children are forced to fight in what are called The Hunger Games. They essentially fight to the death, and the last one standing wins. This is analogous to a war veteran. So, if Katniss Everdeen can win The Hunger Games (and I loved The Hunger Games because it seemed so real), then why can't Katniss go off and fight in a war? Granted, she's female, and there are problems with that, and yada, yada, yada, but why can't an author put her in that situation? Suzanne Collins is very realistic with Katniss' skills, and I never once found her a haughty character for all the things she can do that I can't, because her skills are portrayed realistically.

Teens are so much more than the ditsy, hormone-infested, love sick teens that some YA novels portray them as. Teens throughout history have been kings and queens, authors and poets, martyrs, fighters, parents, and a multitude of things adults are or have been.

So why can't YA fiction touch upon the broad range of emotional experiences that adult fiction touches upon?

1 comment:

  1. You pose the question: "So why can't YA fiction touch upon the broad range of emotional experiences that adult fiction touches upon?" The balance of your post answers the question. There's NO reason they can't.