Friday, August 3, 2012

Discussion Time ~ A Boy's Perspective

A Boy's Perspective
or Boy Books vs. Girl Books

It is apparent nowadays in the world of young adult novels that the market is mostly aimed at girls from ages 12 to 17. Not that girls outside that age group don't read YA novels. I know plenty of YA bloggers who are in their twenties, and that's because the market appeals to all ages as the market expands in ideas, writing styles, and themes. In this huge new world of YA books, and YA book blogs, there's this small idea that some writers decide to publish called "a boy book."

 A what book? You might ask. Who actually reads boy books? You are probably wondering. About 3.9/4 of the books that I read and review on my blog are girl YA books. Do I like these girl YA books? Heck yes I do. If I didn't like girl YA books I basically wouldn't like YA books period. I mean, face it, when you go to the bookstore and go to the YA section, this is what you see:


What do all of the covers above have in common? Don't know? I am going to help you out. All the covers of these widely circulated and popular YA novels include girls in dresses. Do you see it now? Are you looking at your bookshelf now and counting all the books that's covers are graced by a tortured looking girl in a dress with a cheesy tagline? I bet you are. And if not, then...well...this is kind of awkward...

 Now, I know, don't judge a book by it's cover, and most of time I don't. I have learned that the trend of YA covers are girls in dresses, and that's perfectly okay. It's what is selling. Do I enjoy when there is a cover that is totally different, with no girl on the cover? Heck yes! I love when cover makers go outside the market and make a totally mind blowing cover that doesn't involve a girl in a dress.

 The cover usually doesn't effect my choice to read a book or not, and I have come to grips that all covers will try and follow the newest trend, whatever the trend at the time may be!

 I always say that I love boy YA books, but a lot of the times, when I am reading a YA book that is told from a boy's point of view, but written by a female author, I find that the author is trying too hard for our boy protagonist to sound like a boy protagonist. What do I mean by this? I mean the stereotypical teenage boy. In books that I loved such as Invincible Summer and Tempest, the female authors tend to pack in all the typical teenage boy thoughts. I know that teenage boys think about girls a lot, and sex a lot, and I know that boys think a lot about sports and what not, but I would really love if a YA author could think of a boy main character who was kind, who wasn't a jerk, who didn't think about girls the same amount as they think about the problem of the story.

 I'm not saying I want Augustus Waters, I just want an author to show that boy's can be different.

 All this being said, I do enjoy girl YA books. I kind of have to, or I would have no books to write reviews of. Even being girl books, the author knows how to appeal to the boy YA audience as well. Sometimes, books are so obviously girl books. There is no action, there are no plot twists. It's romance and feelings and all that stuff, and that is the focus of the story. Books such as The Summer I Turned Pretty, which I have not read, are marketed as girl books because you can obviously tell there are no shoot outs or fight scenes. There are girl feelings and it's just a girly plot. Is that a bad thing? No! But does it appeal to the boy audience of YA? No! And that's because YA is mostly girl-aimed because boys are categorized as "non-readers."

 At ALA Annual, I cannot count how many times a librarians said: "I wish all boys loved reading as much as you do!" or "A boy who loves reading?" Every time I introduced myself as a blogger of 11 months they would all just look at me dumbstruck. Am I surprised by their reactions? Not at all. In my group of guy friends, pretty much none of them like to read. I only know a few guys who actually enjoy reading. It's not a bad thing, and I know I'm really not the typical guy, and this is the main reason that YA is mostly aimed at girls.

 But there are guys out there in the world that enjoy reading. I am living proof! Authors such as Hannah Moskowitz, Robinson Wells, & Myra McEntire recognize us, and offer boys like me action-packed yet thoughtful YA reads from a boys POV. Not to say that my top 5 favorite books of all time are boy books. Among my favorite books are Shatter Me, Delirium, The Fault in Our Stars, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Where It Began, and pretty much all these books are aimed at the girl audience. I mean, guys read them too, but they are all definitely books that make you feel all the feelings because the author packs in all the feelings. Just because I'm a boy and wish that authors wrote more boy YA books doesn't mean I don't want the girl YA books to go away. It just means that every once in a while I would like an author to show that boys can be thoughtful protagonists as well.

 Who knows, maybe I could be that author? :)

Discussion Time!
Are you a boy reading this post? What's your opinion of YA and being a boy who loves YA?
Are you a girl reading this post? Do you agree with me, do even you get sick of all the girl YA?
Why do you think boy-centered YA hasn't taken off?

29 comments:

  1. I'm a girl reading this post. ;) I definately agree. Sometimes it's tiring reading about all these girls in YA novels (in their wonderful, flowing dresses on the front cover), and after a while they DO start to blur. While I love YA novels, with girls telling the story, I would love to see some "different" books on the shelves. Perhaps a male protagonist. Maybe no dress on the front cover? Bonus! :D

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  2. Great post HD! I am a girl reading this post (well not girl I guess since I'm 30 lol) I agree though. It does seem that there aren't a whole lot of YA books directed at male audience. Being a female reader I have to say that I love books with a male protagonist. I wish there were more actually. Of course just because it's a male protagonist doesn't mean it's directed at the male audience though. I think that if there were more books out there that were more intended for males that maybe more of them would read. I have a 12 year old next door neighbor and I let him borrow my books, but he won't read the "girl books".

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  3. I am a girl. And i agree. I LOVE my girl YA but when i find an AWESOME boy YA book, i enjoy it ten times more. I just read Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas and it was a boy YA book, with sorta-zombies, BUT still i LOVED it and then theirs the Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon and I SUPER LOVE THAT SERIES!!! So i am an advocate for more boy YA books to be put out their. I think boy centered YA hasn't taken off because the market doesn't realize or think that boys are much into reading. Heck I only know a handful that do.

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  4. I'm a 16 years old guy. I love reading!
    I agree on everything you wrote in this post. Almost every YA book is aimed for girls, that's why most of the boys don't read.
    95% of the books that I've read have a female lead character, and a story told from a female POV.
    I wish there were some more books with male POV. A good male POV.
    I agree with you that the female authors try to hard to write a good male POV, and usually they don't succeed in doing that.
    You've written a very good post my friend.
    Trayche, www.ILoveTeenBooks.blogspot.com

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  5. I'm a girl, like only a few months older or younger than you (small world, right? ;) It's nice to meet another 13-year-old blogger) and I do agree that girl books are dominating the YA blogosphere because not many boys do like to read. I actually do enjoy a lot of boy YA books, as long as it's gripping and a good read, I don't mind if it's not a book aimed more for boys or girls. If more boys would love to read I think that YA aimed towards boys would become more and more frequent. Great post! My brother refuses to read those "girl books" that I have, even though some of them technically aren't girl books and are still high in action, and just have a little romance, but I think the covers are sometimes misleading. I definitely see your points here! :)

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  6. "Who knows, maybe I could be that author?"

    GO for it H.D!!!

    The bit of your writing I read on Goodreads was mind-blowing to say the least. I don't know why but probably for the same reasons as you I prefer reading male POV novels from other genres simply because the characters seem a lot more real and less stereotyped than they are in YA. I am not sick of all the girl YA novels and am actually really happy about all the girl novels we have after I read this lovely post on Natalie Whipples blog:

    http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-im-proud-that-ya-is-girl-centric.html

    I never thought about it that way before reading this blog post and now it's changed my whole outlook on the whole gender play on the YA genre. You should check it out sometime. :)

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  7. I'm a girl (obviously) reading this book and while I agree with you, I do think authors and publishers are doing it on purpose. Why? Like you said, the majority of boys don't read. It's the dead honest truth and I've seen it. Even if I try to convince my brother to read "boy" type books, he doesn't always listen. I think people in the publishing world know this and if boys aren't reading, why sell books to get them to read becuase lets be honest, how many boys will start reading NOW if they had a boy type book? I'm not aure how many teen boys at my high school (and it's a huge school) would jump at that chance.

    Do I want it to change? Of course! I love boy POVs and I wish there were more but like you said, they seem so steryotypical!

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  8. Hi :) Great post you have here. I'm a lady but this is exactly the reason why I feel SO refreshed when I read a book from a solid male character. I honestly feel like a lot of the books I read in school (Louis Sachar, Bridge to Terebithia) were from the boy POV and maybe that's why I feel the good 'male' books are very vintage to me. John Green does a great job with the boys in Paper Towns, and I also loved The Cardturner by Louis Sachar. They are out there and I think it's our job to give them a voice and scout them out, ya know? But there are other books like The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore with a bright pink cover that sort of dissaudes a boy from picking it up when I know (because I read it) that it would really be a lovely read for both sexes. I wonder what would happen if book publishers really tried to market to boys... even The Comeback Season or You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith are great examples of male characters who are kind and nice and maybe have baggage but I don't see why boys wouldn't want to read either of those.

    While our world is totally evolving all the time, I think it's hard for people to break out of that mindset that boys play sports and girls read and twirl a baton or something. Maybe I was just lucky and came from a school district that really encouraged interest in art and outside reading because I did have quite a few boy friends who read on their spare time. In college, I met even more and now I'm married to one of them.

    This is the longest comment in existance. haha.

    Also Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick is also another great example. And Lexapros and Cons. See? There are a ton of books with male POVs that came out this year but they sort of fade into the abyss. Sigh.

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  9. Love this! And even though I've noticed that YA books are marketed towards girls.. when I saw your image of all that covers of girls in dresses, it really put it in perspective. Again, really enjoyed reading this! :)

    http://hellochelly.blogspot.com/

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  10. First of all, what a great post!

    Second of all, maybe you could be that writer! You'll never know until you try.

    Okay, now my real two cents, as a girl. I think it's very true that the trend is all about girl YA. I love reading about female characters, don't get me wrong, but I agree with some of the others that they can sometimes become kind of blurry. This is why I love books like Tempest and The Edumacation of Jay Baker, which have male protagonists that feel realistic and fun to me. It's always a pleasure to encounter a male main character in YA, and I certainly hope more writers contribute that to the genre.

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  11. This is really a really fantastic post--thanks for writing it! I often get frustrated by the lack of nuanced, thoughtful boy protagonists in YA too. Most of the guys I know *don't* fit those stereotypes, just as most girls I know don't fit squarely into female stereotypes--and I try to write my characters that way, too.

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  12. I totes love this post! I agree with you about female authors writing from the POV of a male. It actually really drives me crazy. But I've also had a hard time with male writer's writing in the POV of a female...they just don't seem to get it right. I will have to admit that I do love Ashline from Karsten Knight's Wildefire and Embers and Echoes.

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