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Books that portray the worst sides of teens

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I'm not looking for recommendations, :lol But I'm curious -- how often have you read a YA that focuses almost exclusively on the worst aspects of being a teenager?

I just finished a YA (I won't state the title here -- I'm not really trying to book bash), and needless to say, I pretty much hated it. It drew me in initially because of the dual-POV and the mystery (though it wasn't much of a mystery, as I guessed immediately what had happened). But both  POVs, were portrayed as (to me) almost iconic, worst-case-scenario teens : one as the manic pixie dream girl and the other as the lonely outcast who loves her.

He wasn't quite as difficult to read as she was, but it was close. She was awful -- she treated him like dirt, her narrative voice was weird and not at all realistic (kind of like someone always trying to be deep and thinking in metaphors), and she used people. She thought everyone around her was beneath her, so she didn't hesitate to manipulate them as much as she could. He was mostly pathetic. He didn't stand up to her, and he took advantage of the only real friend he had (another outcast) and bad-mouthed him in his narrative. *shudders* Neither of them was very likable.

And that's probably my main point here: these two characters are like caricatures. They aren't realistic. They're completely one sided -- angst, angst, angst, angst.

So I'm very interested in learning about other YAs that folks have read which explore only the worst side of teens. What do you take away from them? Also, do you think the authors of these types of books actually believe teens are like this? Or is it something else?  :eh2
#1 - February 08, 2019, 03:56 PM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
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I live in a house of teenagers, I teach a class of high school kids, and I drive my kids and their friends to school every day. I'm like, bathed in teenagerhood. But often I don't find them in books. I have, however, found plenty of books like you are describing. Also, way too many books where the main character has to go to an Ivy League school or she will literally die. Books where every single thing in the characters' lives is absolutely awful. Books where one element of a character's personality is pushed past the point of believability, at the expense of other characteristics.

I'm not saying you shouldn't have books about hard things in life. Of course you can write on any topic you want. But in reality, most teens are a combination of crabby hormones, and wonderful moments of compassion. Ignorant of how the world really works, yet planning their entire futures. They play computer games, work long hours until close at fast food, they stress over tests, go out to movies, deal with adults who aren't as omnipotent and omniscient as they once believed, struggle to find friends, yet actually DO make friends, even--gasp--outside of their one tiny little group. They're apathetic in some things, but also leading political protests. They can be cruel to others at times, yet they also volunteer. They are sensitive and easily wounded, and yet--they are hopeful, too. Most do *not* go to Ivy League schools, nor is that their culminating life's goal. And most teens are actually not the dregs of society. I would venture to say that whoever they are, wherever they fall in society--ALL teens are complex, sometimes contradictory even, human beings. So I admit I do go into a book hoping to find some of that complexity, so I can believe in the characters. Sometimes I'm pleased. But sometimes I'm disappointed.

It's interesting, too--apparently, most people who buy YA these days are adults. Meanwhile, most teens I know actually read adult books. I do not know what that means, but I'm sure it skews something in the mix...
#2 - February 08, 2019, 05:30 PM

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It's interesting, too--apparently, most people who buy YA these days are adults. Meanwhile, most teens I know actually read adult books. I do not know what that means, but I'm sure it skews something in the mix...
I've read this before too, and it's quite possible that YA authors are actually writing these types of books for adults -- though I'm not sure how many adults would enjoy this book (the one I just read), unless they like thinking that teens are truly that messed up. ::)

I too am around teens a lot, and I've not met any like those in this book. I actually have a list of YA authors that I won't read, and most of them fall on the list *because* they write unrealistic teen characters. It's not a super-long list (about 5-6 authors), but it's never fun to add to it. :(

Up until 2-ish years ago, I read mostly YA (by far); that has changed, however. I definitely read more adult these days because, in many ways, of the ridiculous portrayal of teens in so many current YAs.
#3 - February 08, 2019, 06:20 PM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
Website: www.robinprehn3r.com

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My teens read adult books. They have no patience for angst. By the way, I thought you meant anti-hero at first when I read your subject line and I immediately thought of Chris Lynch's Inexcusable. Really well done.
#4 - February 08, 2019, 07:46 PM
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