The Questions Teen Books Ask

Teen books seem to be the fad today. From Twilight to Pretty Little Liars, kids, teenagers, and adults alike are pouring into this up-and-coming phenomenon of young adult fiction novels. Many, like the aforementioned are damaging to young hearts and minds and serve as nothing more than gateways into the darker territories of adult romance books, which also are on the rise.

9781416912057_custom-s6-c10But then there are other teen books on the other side of the pendulum that may prove to be more worthy of youngster’s attentions. Books like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind trilogy can cause readers to decide what kind of world they would like to live in, and how and if to ever challenge authority.

Books like these can really cause bright minds to analyze the world in which we live and how to best respond to the inevitable social issues we may find ourselves engaging with.

Shusterman’s Unwind trilogy – though I haven’t read the final two in the series – deals with, in some underhanded ways, the topic of abortion – or more accurately – the value (or lack of value) of a human’s life. It’s set in a future world after the Second Civil War has been fought. That war, like its predecessor wasn’t about unification or freedom, but about reproductive rights. The outcome of the war: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until the age of thirteen.

9780439023528_custom-49e9c33a338d97f0abb78402bcdee9b1103f33a0-s6-c10The phenomenal and nearly-flawless Hunger Games trilogy also deals with the value of human life, set in a dystopian future America, where the government – or Capitol – celebrate death as entertainment. The hero of the trilogy – and ultimately author Collins – does a superb job at causing her audience, both the Capitol and her readers, to squirm at our own acceptance of our desensitization of human loss.

Sadly, one needs not look any further than our own American government where the abortion fighters are loosing ground almost on a daily basis. Hollywood – and especially TV – are continually pushing the envelope to create the most violent, bloody, and – scariest of all – realistic  forms of entertainment they can get away with.

Many people may be appalled that teen fiction asks kids if they are willing to stand up against authority and – in the cases of these books – cause uprisings if need be. I assure you, I am not in favor of people refusing to give allegiance to the flag because they don’t feel like it. But we are entering into a world where each day, the lines between good and evil are blurred more and more in the eyes of our authority figures, and ultimately to those who are under their authority.

Books like these, I believe, are good for kids – and anyone, really – to read especially as our governments grow more corrupt, citizens are swayed by evil ideas and acceptances, and I believe there will be a day when standing up for what is right, and true, and honorable, may be the difference between life and death.

Books like these ask you: Are you ready?

Please share your thoughts below. Are these books just causing unnecessary paranoia? Are we really headed toward a dystopia? Should teens be exposed to such questions? Is the government and America as a whole still relatively clear on what’s good and what’s evil?

[Image Credit: 1 and 2]

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

8 thoughts on “The Questions Teen Books Ask

  1. This reminded me of a quote that’s attributed to Stephen King. I don’t know if he actually said it, but I think it makes a good point.

    “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing
    what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it
    is to have a boyfriend.” – Stephen King

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this great topic. I whole-heartedly agree that YA fiction can be very polarized. I adored the Hunger Games because even as a woman in my late 20s, it made me think. I’ve added the Unwind series to my “To Read” list on Goodreads. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Also, may I recommend a series to you? I really loved the series “Divergent” by Virginia Roth. It is similar to the Hunger Games in that it is a dystopia and there is an uprising, but the world it is set in is vastly different. It’s another YA series that made me think. The third book of the trilogy is not out yet, but I can’t wait to read it!

  3. It’s most definitely a good point. And I agree in one sense that it’s important to show courage amidst evil and teach the young to be bold enough to make a stand against a corrupt government. However, what’s your opinion on the controversy that followed the book & movie, regarding the violence. I read a lot of articles shortly after the book broke. Many people believing that it was wrong to capitalize on anything that promoted violence among youth with bullying being so prevalent in today’s society. Not just from Christian organizations either but across the board, an all around discussion on whether this would be inappropriate in a time when more kids are being victimized by their peers. I’m just curious as to how you feel about that.

    1. The book(s) certainly is violent and sometimes gruesome. However, it’s not meaningless violence as many books and movies are prone to display. Keeping in mind that Collins’ work is a warning call to what could happen if we continue the glorify violence, I like to think of it as the author fighting fire with fire. The violence is from the perspective of one who is eager to see it end. And in order for violence to end, sadly, it oftentimes takes violence to do so. The movie-maker’s were smart and treated the material with delicacy, knowing that if they filmed too much violence, they would be doing the exact opposite of what Suzanne Collins is writing about. So I feel that the movie was not nearly as gruesome as it could have been, thus handled very well.

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