6/24/18

The Problem with Darkness in YA


I actually didn't forget about this series and am continuing it???
Look at me all professional and stuff and not quitting something!

Other posts in this series:
-The Problem with Bad Boys
-The Problem with Grey Morality 


I actually like darker books. I like horror, psychological thrillers, crime etc. But I've noticed that a too real faux pas of reality and darkness has been becoming more and more prevalent in YA.

Now, do some teens struggle with drinking, drug abuse, peer-pressure, depression, or mental illnesses? Yes, of course.

Do some unfortunate teens suffer consequences for their actions? Also, a yes.

And I think a good way to address and spread awareness on issues such as these is through fiction, but I've noticed that so many books are missing the most important thing when it comes to darker themes: hope.

Listen, I know I can't speak for everyone, but as a teen, finding hope in books is so important.

Hope is important, light is important, being inspired is important, knowing that you aren't alone and you can get through whatever you're dealing with is important.

Now, I understand that some books aren't supposed to have happy endings, but not all of them need to be devoid of all hope, in fact, I think that sometimes a book hits harder when there is hope.

In the book Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock the story starts off with Leonard planning to kill himself, the book follows him through his day as he says goodbye to the few people he really cared about. This alone sounds dark, and it was. This book was gritty, painful, and blunt, but the ending is so full of hope, light, and love that it threw me off guard. The message of the book was that life can be worth living and that you are strong enough to keep living.

A Thousand Perfect Notes is a book about a boy with an abusive mother, and the theme of self-worth is also there.

These are two examples of darkness in books handled well.
I've read many books that glorify things like suicide, abuse, and a number of dark and gritty things.

Guys, these things aren't fun. They're very real and very scary, and not something that should be written about to just add a Thirteen Reasons Why edge to your book.

When I read books like these, the books feel empty, I feel empty.

Teens need hope, most of us are insecure and are struggling to make it through these years of changes, we need to know that it will be okay. We need to be able to be inspired to press on despite life's hurdles. We need to understand the beauty and the fragility of life, and I think that if we had more books that showed this that it would help so many teens who feel worthless or invisible.

Books don't always have to inspire or uplift, but in the end, darker books should have a purpose other than just being dark.

Does it make one think? Or does one put it down the same, or with an even worse mindset?

Dark books shouldn't be dark because it's the trend, or because the authors just want to be seen as edgy. There should be a purpose, because if not: what's the point?

If your book doesn't have a purpose, then really what is the point of writing it? 

Give us something real, not something hopeless.


What do you think about gritty themes in YA? 

Happy Writing,

51 comments:

  1. Great thoughts, Gray! I agree that the darkness in books should be overshadowed with hope. A book that I read that paints this very well is In 27 Days by Alison Gervais. It dealt with the topics of suicide and death, but in the end, there was hope for all of the characters.

    Micaiah @ Notebooks and Novels

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    1. Thank you, it is something that we need more of in young adult.
      I'll have to check out In 27 Days now.

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  2. I completely agree! My books are darker but the point I always try to drive home by the end, is that there is hope. YA books try to be real, but in the same breath, forget to give teens any sort of hope that there is a way out.
    Running Lean is one of my favorite grittier books - it's about an anorexic girl and really had a lovely ending! Totally recommend it to you! <3

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    1. Yes, exactly my point. <3

      I've heard about that book, I need to read it. Thanks for the rec!

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  3. I completely agree Gray!! We teens do need hope, especially those who are facing trials in their lives! Hope is needed in YA writing!!

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  4. Amen, Gray! I don't read a lot of dark books because they're often too dark for me. But hope is certainly the thing that they really need, because without hope, what's the point?

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    1. Thank you! Hope is such an important thing.

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  5. This is all so true! We need hope more than ever in today's world. I agree, if those kinds of topics are going to be handled, there has to be hope somewhere in the story. Excellent post!

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    1. Thanks, we really do, it's such a needed thing.

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  6. *applauds* My feelings exactly. <3

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  7. Yay!!! This is an epic series, Gray! I haven't read many "dark, gritty" stories (perhaps because I stick to Fantasy, which tends to be a little more dark vs. light? I dunno) but I totally agree that books should have a purpose. We don't necessarily need a book telling us to completely reevaluate our lift, but even a message of "keep on, despite the bad" would be great. :)

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    1. Aw, thank you!
      We really need more of that message in young adult.

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  8. I agree!! I as just thinking about this the other day. I want more hopefull YA out there. So many authors these days seem to think 'deep' and 'hope' can't go together and its sad. My favorite books are ones where they tell me I can get through this.

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  9. Yes! THIS POST RIGHT HERE!!

    This is what I want to accomplish. I want my books to be dark and to be painful, but inspiring and hopeful as well. So true!

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    1. Thank you!

      I hope every author wants to accomplish that, it's so important. <3

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  10. I COMPLETELY agree with you, Gray!!! So much truth in this post!!

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  11. I love this series . . . and this is the best of the three! I think the perfect ending is a mix between realism and hope - you don't have to have a happy ending yet there is still hope. My favorite author, Katherine Paterson executes this well :) And it's how I strive to end all of my stories. Great post!

    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying this series! :D
      Yes, so true, there is even hope in death because we can hope for something better beyond this world.

      I'll have to check her writing out! Thanks. ^_^

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  12. It's funny you bring this up, because I just finished Looking for Alaska. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea, especially because it does include a lot of swearing and one sexually explicit scene-- which did actually scare me away from reading Green's debut novel for some time. But I did read it, and despite all of these things I do like the idea aimed at towards the end, the idea of radical hope. Thank you for reminding me of this today.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | Story-Eyed

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    1. Yes, I've read Looking for Alaska, it was definitely more crude and descriptive, but I did like the overall message in it.

      Thank you for reading!

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  13. I just read A Thousand Perfect Notes, and you're right, it really handles the darkness well. I love that book so much, but I would have seriously been depressed if the author hadn't made the ending so HOPEFUL. Nevertheless, I still SOBBED LIKE A BABY, but I was only half sad.

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    1. That book was so good! I sobbed too!! :')

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    2. <3 I love the last sentence. Ahhhhhhh... <3

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  14. You need to balance out the darkness with light. Great post!

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  15. I expected to disagree with you, as I usually do with these kinds of posts, but the way you talked about it made so much sense to disagree with. Books DO need dark themes and darkness, but they also need a REASON for the darkness, not just for shock value or teen attention. Books need darkness, but they also need light because without some light, the balance will fall off kilter and then the darkness will become overbearing. Light and a reason to hope are two incredibly important aspect of YA novels.

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    1. I'll take that as a good sign, since you are one of my most thoughtful and critical readers, which I apricate.
      Very true! I am tired of such themes being used for shock value, it's so disrespectful in the first place.

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    2. I definitely meant it as a good sign. I don't mean to be a critical reader (if you mean that in a judge mental kind of critical) I just usually end up being really blunt in the way I approach certain topics of passion and sometimes that can misconstrue what I actually meant to say because it sounded like I was saying the opposite due to poor word choice. Does that make sense?

      Also, I applaud you for tackling these issues head-on.
      Not a lot of bloggers want/actually go there with these controversial and important topics. So the fact that you do already earns you massive respect points from me. ;)

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    3. I knew you did, and I am grateful for you being critical, I didn't mean that as judgmental at all. And it does make sense, I wasn't mad at you or saying it as a bad thing at all, sorry if I scared you. ^_^

      Thank you!

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    4. Haha, no I didn't think you meant it in a bad way, I just wanted to clarify. ;)

      Delete
  16. writing about the dark comes naturally to me because of my mind. Those few of y'all who follow my blog know what I mean. It is possible to flip the dark message around , but it can be really hard. Honestly, I kinda think that's where some writers can't come up with anything hopeful to end dark writings

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    1. There is always hope, sometimes it's hard to find it, but there always is.

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  17. Couldn't be more true. I can't make enough of a fuss about having balance. Teen books need hope maybe more than other books, and this is something YA authors really need to remember.

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    1. Ah, same. Teens struggle with a lot of things and books that show hope are needed so much.

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  18. This was something that, as a writer of YA previously, I had to think about. Many of my stories explored themes of mental illness, disability, feelings of not belonging in the world and it's so important for readers to see the light at the end of the tunnel - if not for the characters than at least for themselves.

    Great points!

    One The Cusp | https://on-th3-cusp.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! It is so important, especially for delicate matters such as mental health, it makes me think about the debate over Thirteen Reasons Why, on one hand it starts a conversation, on the other it comes dangerously close to romanticizing such issues in today's society.

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  19. I agree we need more hope in YA in between all the darkness! :D also I wish they wouldn't glorify Drug abuse or self-harm, it's almost like they are saying "it's a good thing see so so did it. So you can do it too." I agree that hope should come out of the darkest story, we need hope, without it the world (and the fictional world) would never be the same.
    -Quinley

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    1. Yes, I second that! It's so awful seeing stuff like that promoted.

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  20. Awesome, awesome post, Gray! My absolute favorite thing about dark fiction is that it can make the little bit of light that comes through appear so much brighter!

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    1. Thank you so much! That's one of my favorite things as well.

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  21. Wow, what great thoughts!
    I totally have noticed this too- but what a bright hope we get to spread!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

    elissa // shedancesintherain.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks for reading! That is one of my favorite parts about writing. <3

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  22. hey! I know this is random, but should I start writing out of nowhere, or come up with some idea of the topic beforehand and try to stick To the main theme? Help. Thanks.

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    1. Just write what you think needs to be said! If you think there's a topic you want to write about but if it's too big to address in one post break it up into a series, that's what I'm doing right now by covering the problems with YA. :)

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  23. Yes, yes and yes! There is so little hope in this society that we desperately need a reminder of it. Wonderful post, Gray!!!

    Catherine

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Hi, wonderful human bean.
I am so happy that you took time out of your day to share your thoughts with me! :)
But please,
• Be kind • Be respectful • No swearing •
I will do my best to reply!

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