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!