Off the Books: Can I Still Review What I Read?

Posted August 26, 2016 in Discussion / 22 Comments

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After reading Illuminae, I’m starting to wonder if I’m having “patience” issues with books.  Is no other book going to compare to Illuminae?  Am I in a Summer slump?  Or am I just too old and cranky to be reading and reviewing young adult books objectively?  That last one has been creeping into my mind more and more lately.

I read a young adult book recently and the story just screamed “silly” and “pretentious” to me.  I wasn’t enjoying the escape a book often gives me so I DNF’d it.

But I’m now questioning my ability to read YA objectively, as in, can I read and judge a teen book for both it being well written and it’s appeal to a teen audience?

I’m not a teen reader.  I’m not even in my 20’s.  I’m staring at 50 and giving it dirty looks.

So I thought, I pondered, I reflected… and here’s what I came up with (err, rationalized?) to prove I’m safe reviewing all the young adult books I love to read….

  • The REASON why I read young adult – I love revisiting that time in my life where everything is new, bright, and shiny.  Where a teen gets to decide who and what they want to be.  And if the cards are stacked against them, I love to see that kid come out on top.  You can see why I love happily ever afters.  Most of all, I can put myself back in their shoes and remember what it was like.  I never want to do it again because it would ruin how great I had it.  And boy, do I remember all the crushes I had…
  • After all the college English and writing courses I’ve had to take for my stinkin’ Bachelors, I think I have decent grasp of grammar rules, punctuation, and basic story structure.  Please don’t ask me the difference between it’s and its – I still don’t get that correct to this day.  I’m just now wrapping my mind around who’s and whose.  But I’m pretty sure I can tell if you a book is meandering or if it’s getting down to business.  And I know teens aren’t too entirely keen on reading the big huge honkin’ books that aren’t actually substance.  How?
  • Having worked in a public library, I spoke daily to teens and parents looking for books.  I had some great regulars who loved vampire books, I had moms trying to get their sons to read, and I had just about every kid asking me where the graphic novels are (they’re in the non-fiction section on the other side of the library because, yeah, our librarians are old and can’t bear to split the books up).  I’ve talked to teens and I know how a few of them think.  Thinking back on that “silly” book I DNF’d recently, I don’t know who I’d recommend it to.  Maybe to someone who liked Sara Shepard?  All I know was I wasn’t torturing myself to finish it.

 

But most importantly…

I’m me, this is my voice, I’m going to review books using the experiences I’ve lived, my keen eyeballs, and my narrative review voice to say what I think.  I think I’m okay because I’ll usually tell the reader why I think a certain way.  And if I think I’m biased because of my age, I will say so.

As with anyone’s review you read, you just need to know who is writing the review.  I usually do.  That’s how I judge whether I’m going to read certain books or not.  I have my go-to reviewers for each genre.

And when you come right down to it, as long as you’re YOU, it’s all good.  Don’t let anyone else change YOU!

 


 

 

 

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Kristin

About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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22 responses to “Off the Books: Can I Still Review What I Read?

  1. You know I am a firm believer in ‘your blog, your content’, Kristin. So yeah, if you want to review YA books, you should. People who know your blog also know that you’re not a teenager, and that you will bring your own experiences and maturity into the review, because that’s part of what books are all about. We all put our own spin on the stories we read, if not, we’d kind of live in a vacuum.
    I love reading YA reviews written by adults, because I love YA, too. And some of the YA I read does have terrible grammar (which I hate!!) or characters who act so stupidly it’s amazing that they survive into adulthood…
    Great post *hugs*
    Lexxie recently posted…Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts #79 – Swear on This Life

    • I’m glad you said that our voices come through, I wondered about that – if readers picked up on that, especially on Goodreads. OMG, teens doing stupid stuff!!! I give passes on it if it’s just maturity but if it’s plan dumb for the sake of the story… out the Darwin Award door you go!!! *Hug* back – this post was terrifying to post 🙂

  2. I wondered this same thing about myself the other day. I’m 35 and just lately I’ve found that I’ve gotten so picky with my YA reads. There are certain ones I love to read, but now I just love reading cozy mysteries, adult contemporary and romance books, paranormal romance, new adult … The book I’m reading now has a character who’s 35 and that made me so happy! lol. I just find I can’t read too many YA at once. I like to sneak them in once in a while – and I do have my favourites I love to read! Like the previous commenter said, it’s your blog, your content. You can review whatever you like!

    • Problem is there are SOOOO many YA reads out there that are the same thing, just regurgitated in some different way so you HAVE to be picky these days! And those 35 year old characters? There aren’t many of those, right? Either that or I’m not finding them!!! Thanks so for stopping by!! I hope family life is awesome!!

  3. I think the key here is whether you can both objectively review and enjoy it. I have always been picky about the YA books I read..tending to choose fantasy, dystopian and darker books at the end of the spectrum. I think some of these books are for everyone. and that YA rating is meant to be 14 and up so to speak. Having said that, I think you should read what makes you happy.. As long as you can identify, realize the intended audience and give a fair review..then yep..blog what you want.

    And pushing 50? What….I know I will be 50 in October but thought you had quite a few years yet.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

    • You nailed what I ultimately came up with but man, the dumb books I DNF’d recently really had me questioning myself. I was just over thinking!!! That’s why wine goes with books, it makes everything better (ha!) Coffee is for the endurance…

      Oh, I don’t have a few years… more like 3… is that a few? Okay, technically but still doesn’t look like 40 anymore!! And you don’t even LOOK close to 50, you curvalicious Hot Mama (I am not flirting – ewww!) You swore you’d share some from up top! I haven’t seen any yet!!! 😉

  4. You aren’t the only one disenchanted with YA. I find myself steering away from it more and more, it just fails to capture me. Yes, there are some great ones out there, but I am like you, becoming more cynical, and I bore easily. You aren’t the only one in a slump. I haven’t hardly read this summer, and when I do, I am struggling to find books that capture me.
    Heidi recently posted…Friday Forecast August 28th-September 3rd

    • I think with us, it takes a certain type of YA book to really capture our attention. Something like Illuminae or sweeping fantasies like Throne of Glass. The little romances are becoming filler for us, I think 🙁 And your slump is completely justified, if you could call it a slump 🙂

  5. So first – love the Elaine gif because how could you not. I still love YA although some is just not for me. I am not a teen or in my twenties and coming up soon to the wrong side of thirty but like you that is such a great time in one’s life it is fun to immerse myself in that world again. It definitely depends on who is reviewing it on whether I will try a certain YA book. Don’t even know what else I wanted to say but yeah you get my point (maybe)!
    Grace recently posted…Review ~ How to Make Out

  6. You’re definitely safe. I say, review what you want. Like you, I’m in my 40s and I still read YA. I’m okay with that. Happy with it even. Occasionally I come upon a book and I think, “That really wasn’t me, but I think it would really appeal to younger readers.” So I say that and move on. That’s okay – people will be able to read my review and make a decision for themselves if the things that bothered me would bother them too.
    Nicole recently posted…My Foray into Anime and Manga – Let’s Discuss!

    • Thank you for commenting and saying exactly what you said!!!! I’ve TRIED to say what you say in your reviews but I always wondered if it was enough. And then I got those few bombs in a row and started questioning myself… PHEW!!! Again, thanks 😀

  7. I think we all read YA through the lens of our own experiences, whether we’re “actually” YA aged or a bit older. And I think that’s okay. After all, like you said we’ve all been there and it’s okay to relive those times through fiction. And with older people reading YA we need older reviewers (and I dont mean “old” old, it’s just we’re not all 15 lol). To be honest when I review a YA I’m not even sure I’m thinking of a teen reader- I’m reviewing that bad boy based on what I liked and what I think visitors to my blog will lie, and I’m sure there are more twenty somethings and up visiting than teens.

    And I have to be picky too. I read mostly suspense or sci fi stuff I guess and not so much contemporary or romance so I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but yeah there have been a few where I’m like really? Next. 🙂 And you’re right about being yourself- that’s the main thing.
    Greg recently posted…Sunday Post #157

  8. this is such a wonderful post Kristin!!! I don’t read YA very much, its not that I don’t like it, I just feel like I can’t relate very well with that genre. I am still in my twenties but I am closing in on 30 soon and giving it the death glare because I am so not ready to be in my 30’s yet hehe But I agree that YA does have a fresh feel to it. Its probably why I like NA. Because they are young enough to still have that fresh feel to it and still find it easy enough to relate with the characters enough. Maybe someday I can get into this genre more. I do think its important to be yourself especially when writing a review. I love seeing someone’s personality in the review. Its why I love reading reviews, because each one is different and unique and its important to keep that voice. For myself, I am perfectly content with my adult romance and proud of it because I just love it so much and want to read what I love. And thats the most important thing, is as readers and reviewers to read what we love and share it. 🙂
    Lover Of Romance recently posted…ARC Book Review-Taming The Highlander by May McGoldrick

  9. I think if you regularly read a genre you can certainly talk about it. I did note an author once said she doesn’t read reviews as if people aren’t fans of that genre they aren’t really qualified to talk about it.

    I kinda get that cos I don’t read much / any romance and when I do I find the sex scenes too cliched or over-the-top or something… but I’m conscious that perhaps that’s just me as I’m not as inured to them as those who read the genre regularly. I think if you like YA then keep at it. I’m a suspense / crime /thriller lover and think I can pick pretty quickly sometimes when something’s just not working. I might be alone in my thoughts, but often I’ll find I’m not.
    Deborah recently posted…Weekly check-in

  10. Great post Kristen. I don’t read nearly as much YA as I did when I first got back into reading hard and heavy about five or six years ago. I got really burnt out because I was reading so many stories that sounds so much the same. I went cold turkey and completely quit reading them. Now, I read a few here and there, ones from authors I know I will like.

    I completely agree with your comment about knowing who is reviewing a book. I’m not saying that I won’t read a review from people I don’t know, I just don’t give them as much weight as the ones I do. I agree completely about having different people I will go to for recommendations of specific genres. Once again, great post. 🙂
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…Hammered Audiobook by Kevin Hearne (REVIEW)

  11. Sam

    I tend to operate under the “read and review whatever you want” category. I think our reading tastes do change over the years though. When I originally started blogging in 2004, I was reading a ton of historical romances. Over a period of time my reading tastes slowly started changing and I realized that the tropes prevalent in that genre no longer worked for me. I came to the point where I wasn’t enjoy books in the genre even by some of my favorite authors. So, I decided to stop reading books in the genre. Maybe your reading tastes are just in a transition period?

    I don’t think it means that you should stop reviewing young adult books though. As someone who is either burnt out on the genre or for who certain books aren’t working anymore, I think the reviews are still valuable. Especially if you find a YA book that draws you back in, since that usually says that people who don’t typically enjoy the genre may like that particular book.
    Sam recently posted…Stacking the Shelves: Week of August 21

  12. As an almost thirty something, I really struggle while reading YA books. I think your perspective is great- I want to hear from adults reading YA so I know which ones I want to read. If you think something is silly, tell us- that’s super valuable so we know to skip it! I think it also makes sense that as you get older some YA things might start to irk you more, I know that that has definitely happened for me.

  13. Great discussion! I am with you re: why I read YA — I love those feelings/struggles and reminiscing. That being said, i have definitely found myself reading much less YA in the past few years than I used to. But I think your end point is so true and important — review for yourself and being true to yourself. You are so right, everyone has different experiences and is a different age and that will always affect a review! ♥
    Eva recently posted…Monthly Recap: August 2016