Letters of Mass Construction

Dark YA Fiction

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back which suggested young adult books are too dark today. It was a well written article and it had lots of valid points. I obviously don’t agree. Since I am currently finishing up my Darkland trilogy I wrote for teenagers which are very dark. I tried to write my books with respect to the reader. There is a war going on. Children are in the middle of it. There isn’t an easy way to sugar coat war and I don’t try to do it.

My favorite set of books written over the last few years are The Hunger Games sequence by Suzanne Collins. They are also dark. They deal with death, violence, and war. Again the writer treated the subject with respect. She made her characters important. If something happens to one of them you care.

When I was writing The Shadow Men there was a couple of sequences I knew were likely to upset readers. One of them actually made me tear up a little when I was writing and editing it. I could have changed it but I didn’t want to. Not because of some desire to push the limits or be edgy. It was part of the story. It made sense that bad things might happen to some of the main characters.

Growing up my favorite writers (Robert Cormier, S.E. Hinton, J.D. Salinger) didn’t belittle me. They wrote honestly about tough subjects. Truthfully, there weren’t many writers who did that and I found myself quickly moving into adult books. I think it is great the selection for young readers has grown so large.

I used books as a guide post growing up. They were my teachers. Much of who I am as an adult was formed out of the words writers gave me growing up. My students are the same way today. They are not stupid. They understand the difference between fiction and reality. They also understand that fiction sometimes mirrors the reality of the world they live in. They suck in the words and they form opinions. It’s what is supposed to happen when you read books.

I think it is important for parents to stay in the mix when it comes to what their children are exposed to but I have always been a strong believer of letting children make their choices. Once they have, then you talk with them about it. You guide them to other books or other styles. The exploration of fiction is so personal, especially for children who are trying to figure out themselves and the world around them. Just like all the things throughout the last hundred years which were supposed to be too dark for children (comics, movies, TV, video games) I am sure the young people of the world will find their way through the darkness no worse for wear.


The Shadow Men at Amazon

The Shadow Men at Barnes & Noble

The Shadow Men at Smashwords

The Shadow Men at Amazon UK

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2 Responses to “Dark YA Fiction”

  1. merri says:

    I love hunger games! Well, I’ve only read the first one so far, but it was great. I know its coming into a movie soon, im ambivalent but will watch it. I know I’m way over a young adult but I enjoy reading young adult books still, and I like the dark ones. I always have. Young adults aka teens more often than not experience SOME sort of darkness in their lives although the lucky ones it’s just stuff like peer pressure but even that can be enough. Childhood is the worst time of life, growing up and stuff, why pretend its not? They can handle it. Here is a really dumb question…your young adult dark book one that you have on those links for sale – can people who don’t have an Ipad/kindle/nook etc read it? If I were to buy it would I have to sit in front of my laptop whenever I wanted to read it? I suppose I could print it but that’s an awful lot of paper and ink to waste.. how would an old-fashioned reader read your stuff?

    • csdaley says:

      Right now it would have to be sit in front of the computer. You can put all those pieces of software on Android or iPhone. Although, I am not sure what the reading experience would be like on a phone. Both books out right now are pretty quick reads. The novel is average size but I tried to write it like an old fashion serial. Lots of action and cliff hangers.

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