Werewolves and vampires and zombies – Oh My!

Jun 14, 2009

Posted by Doris

I’ve read more then my share of novels, and I’ve noticed trends in content that often times reflect the culture of our society. Entertainment Weekly (EW) published an online article, “Girls Gone Dark” where it sites what they see as a new trend in books. The trend, as they see it, is toward a darker content in teen literature. Wall Stree Journal also reported on the current trend towards darker content in teen novels.

The EW article raises the question …

“Could this newer, darker literature be harmful for teens? “

*Passes out coffee*

I can remember the genre of the late 70′s. I was a new reader then, but I can remember grabbing my brothers comic books and reading about space ships, men on mars and nuclear weapons. Being in elementary school I had no idea that the focus of the news often followed the space race, the Cold War or the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Zoom about 30 years into the future and now we read about dystopian ideas and thoughts, we read books about cutting, about starvation, zombies, demons, vampires and about dark wizards . The content of our world is darker, it appears our literautre might just be reflecting that.

These articles started me wondering …

  • Do you see this trend as a negative one, or is it just a cycle that will turn around and we’ll be reading about flowers and puppy dogs all over again?
  • Is the darkening of the content of our teen lit a symptom of the world’s woes?
  • Do you think that reading the darker content could have a lasting impact on our young adults? If so, then how will it impact them?
  • Will Jo Rowling publish something soon? (Ok, off topic but I still want to know)

I posted the WE article on Twitter to see a quick response. These are the first responses. (if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I’m dorish)

@sassymonkey (1/2)”There have always been dark teen books. If they are just noticing that they are way behind the curve. (2/2) The Little Princess is dark if you stop and think about it.” (Sassymonkey is a featured book bloggerr on BlogHer. I highly recommend her blog)

@tryston009 – (1/2)The article was interesting … while I agree with the author of the article in that it allows teens to confront the problems, (2/2) facing them today, I alsways have problems with “good, uplifting endings… because some times life doesn’t end up pn a good note.” (tryston009 is one of the incredible Lily and Stag staffers. He’s also about to start a new Ustream bi-weekly chat on the Harry Potter books)

@jkrfan Interesting Article but trend’s been around for eons, just comes back in cycles like all good things? :)
(JKRfan is the webmaster of JK Rowling Fan.com)

5 Responses to Werewolves and vampires and zombies – Oh My!

Avatar ImageFlora Lovegood says: I thought of Little Princess too and even more so Secret Garden. The Victorian novels for children were full of death, poverty, and in a word Reality, which as we all know, includes darkness. When i was a tween/teen i read books about anorexia/drugs/divorce& death etc...Judy Blume even had "dark" themes and we all read VC Andrews voraciously, and hey, the gang at Sweet Valley High always had drama happening! ;) I have noticed more of a trend towards suicide in YA, but I think that should be discussed. Teenagehood can be dark, and frankly, scary I think one reason HP appealed to so many was b/c Jo did not forget that and gloss over life, and maybe that had been missing in books for awhile. [PS- I am really just the tweetmaster at jkrfan, but loving being part of the site! thanks for following :)]Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Oh I love the title, Tweetmaster, very cool! I agree that being a teen is dark, it's a rough time. Having not been a teen for a while, I'm sure I've forgotten much of how hard it is. I also think that reading the Teen books of today helps me remember the feelings. Thanks for the comments, and the tweets.Avatar ImageLillylove says: I do feel that literature historically reflects the time. (For pity sakes...just look at Charles Dickens works!). In all literature, I think the "danger" comes when we as adults fail to follow what our children are reading and fail to engage them in discussion about it. Also agree with Flora Lovegood's comments regarding the appeal of HP. JKR wrote her story in a very intimate and realistic way that instantly connected with each of us. Thanks, Doris, for sharing your thoughts on this topic :) Avatar ImageDorisTLC says: Thanks Lillylove for reminding us about Dickens. He is an incredible example of how art reflects society. (and he did it in such an incredible way) Avatar Imagefantasylover12001 says: I'm a little late in posting to this but I just saw it now. I do think in some ways literature/art reflects society. But I have to wonder, how many teen books have the writers of this article read? Because a majority of them ARE dark. There tons of vamp books out there for teens nowadays and there were when I was a teenager too. I also recall reading some intense horror stories in my teens as well, or have these guys never heard of R.L.Stine? Also, I would like to point to V.C.Andrews who had incest in her books. Anyways, there have always been dark YA novels out there. There probably always will be because teens are an angsty bunch (a majority of them anyway) and when you angst you tend to want to read something that reflects your mood. I doubt it's "harmful" to them though. Plenty of people read Stephan King and I don't see anyone worrying about the effect that has on people.

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