I can see where people are coming from when they say that books are just too dark. Where are the books with the happy endings that promote a good loving family? But, I feel like that's just not always the case unfortunately. Families are complex. There's abuse, divorce, sibling rivalry, and more issues. There is always conflict and books should be able to show it. I also feel like the article's author just got the worst kinds of examples and just threw them in there to scare me. I had never heard of these books before and don't plan on reading them. Teenagers have better judgment than most might think. If they think it's too much, they won't read those books.
The thing is what people consider "dark" isn't as dark as they may think. Young adult books deal with real issues but not all of them go overboard. The most exciting stories like dystopians where there is fear and oppression there is also an overwhelming want for that character to succeed and champion the bad guys. It's always been the bad guys against the good guys whether or not the bad guys were other people or parts of yourself that you struggle with. Here are some examples of young adult books that take on real issues:
Dark Theme: Suicide
With access to the internet and the news we know what bullying can lead to. In Thirteen Reasons Why you track a young girl's progression to her suicide and the reasons why she did it. She feels so alone and empty that she doesn't want to live anymore. It's with the different forms of bullying and seeing what it feels like to be invisible, feeling like you don't matter, that we are shown what hurtful words can do. This is so reminiscent of real life. It would be an act of injustice if there wasn't talk about it. What could this book lead to? Maybe it leads to more people paying attention to what they say, being better people. Maybe it shows others that if you only looked there were people that care. There is hope that things can change. That is the message of this story. Is it wrong that adults don't feel it's right for teenagers to be in this world and feel that character's pain or is it even more wrong to take away this powerful knowledge that this book gives its readers?
Dark Theme: Death
It seems like everywhere you look there is a book about someone who's either in the afterlife or is close to it. In If I Stay a girl loses her family in a car accident and has a choice: continue on with the knowledge that she will never see her parents again or fight on and live the life she always wanted. In the beginning the story even tells of how she saw cauliflower all over the ground before she realized it wasn't cauliflower but one of her parents scattered brain remnants. It's an awful choice to make. I can't help but feel how this story while reading it could get any better. It's all about the time we have and how we should take care to be with our loved ones because you don't know when they are going to be taken away. It's a truth we know of, we all die so why is it so wrong to write about the truth? Is it a dark story? Yes, it is but it's the knowledge that comes with it that I find invaluable.
Dark Theme: Violence
I know the article already wrote about The Hunger Games but I wanted to talk about it too. First, of all I don't think I noticed the violence of it all as much as they think. I mean towards the end yeah but I don't think they are getting the point. I don't think they understand what the world is capable of. The story also provides a great main character that just exemplifies strong teenage female heroines. The story is about this character facing the odds and not going with the crowd. Defending her home and shaking things up by just being herself. It's not just about the violence but the violence does help show what the world is capable of. You know that boys have been trained to be soldiers to kill innocent people and there so much wrong with the world. This world isn't cookie cutter. Not by a long shot. Living in a bubble won't help save it.
So what do you think?
Do you think young adult books have gotten too dark?