I am specifically using The Hunger Games as my opening image for a reason. You will catch onto it soon.
There’s trouble in YA fiction paradise, and it has been stirred by a white male author who I wanted to originally leave nameless, but at the same time I want to tell you who it is so you can decide whether it is worth your time to read his book. I try so hard not to tear into writers, because I myself am an aspiring author, and I wouldn’t want it done to me, but this falls under an exception and here is why.
Scott Bergstrom wrote a book called The Cruelty, and it has apparently garnered him so much attention, that the book already has a movie deal. I would be happy for any author to get this because I still strongly believe that YA publishing is pushing the industry forward, but I am not happy about this particular deal. This book is described by Publishers Weekly as:
“Bergstrom’s heroine is Gwendolyn Bloom, a Jewish, slightly overweight 17-year-old, who is transformed into a “lean warrior with hair dyed fire-engine red,” during her mission to rescue her father, a kidnapped diplomat. Her search takes her into Europe’s most dangerous slums, and into contact with gangsters, spies, and arms dealers.”
I would like to give the writer the benefit of the doubt as many other YA authors have tried to do, but let’s be honest those writers are probably nicer than me. The description is there because he wrote the book this way. As if a female needs to lose weight to become empowered, or important. I will come back to this clusterfuck in a second. The real problem I have with this is the fact that this writer decided that he was going to put down the entire YA Sector of fiction by saying:
“The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own,” Bergstrom said. “In a lot of YA, the conflict takes place inside a walled garden, set up by outside adult forces. If you think of those stories as a metaphor for high school, they start to make a lot more sense, but that was one thing I wanted to depart from.”
and the even bigger cock of a quote:
“I’m inspired by the world around me. What troubles me about so much of today’s fiction aimed at young adults is that its set in an imaginary time and place.“
So you’re troubled by imagination and those who can create worlds you probably could only dream of creating? You don’t come out of the gate as an arrogant prick, and those two quotes tell me all I need to know about this writer. He is coming in with his chest puffed out and his nose up in the air claiming that he’s writing something different, something unique. Sorry sir but your trope has been done before, and not just in YA. It’s sad really that men think it’s okay to write young women this way. When your target audience is young women. Here’s where you, and all those people backing you will run into some snags in the near future, your target audience isn’t simple minded. Your target audience has grown up reading amazing and strong female characters and they have reached a point in their reading lives that they don’t want to be told that as a female, the only way to feel like an empowered warrior is to lose weight. NO ONE wants to read that. I know I don’t.
But apparently someone thinks that females of the world need this shit.
“Kicking butt to save your dad is actually a lot easier for me to swallow than kids killing kids in The Hunger Games.”
That’s a quote from his agent’s neighbor or someone who read the story, and apparently never actually read The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is one of the most morally complex YA novels out there. Katniss throws all of her heart and soul to save not just her sister, but also so the future of Panem would be more than just “kids killing kids”, and not to mention it paved the way for so many other YA novels to be published, unfortunately that includes this story by Mr. Bergstrom.
If you go on twitter and look at the hashtag MorallyComplicatedYA you are going to find that the target audience of your novel Mr.Bergstrom is highly offended by your remarks and your plot. How does that saying go? You shot yourself in the foot? You may have gotten all those deals rolling in, but I am going to gather by the truly empowering females all over social media aren’t falling for your shit, and in fact might be turning on you. You offended an entire genre, you insulted fellow writers who could have backed your story, you offended the entire female gender with your remarks. I wish you luck, because you are going to need it from this day forth.
I imagine your agent and your publishers are all feeling a little nervous now, and will probably force you to apologize. Hope you try your best to sound genuine, but fantasy seems to be a concept you cannot grasp.
I could continue tearing into this, but I think I will sign off now. Just know, all young females deserve to read empowering characters, yours is not one of those, and everyone seems to know that.
Peace and Love