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I’m putting Armada in YA and you can’t stop me

November 19, 2015

Fans are saying Ernest Cline’s Armada is a failure because it sticks too close to the source material. My argument is that it’s been marketed wrong. This is a young adult book that’s been marketed to adults. Why doesn’t anyone seem to get that?

Even School Library Journal put it under “Adult books for YA collections.” But why? Why is it not a YA book? It’s the story of a teen–who is about to graduate, but hasn’t yet–and his adventure fighting aliens. Readers have complained that it’s too much like The Last Starfighter, which it references, but the meta-narrative only works if you’re an adult and grew up watching The Last Starfighter. I mean, I did and all, but not over and over again like a lot of other movies from that time (I guess it wasn’t on cable for me to record), so I didn’t mind. Also, I thought when I was reading it that it was a teen book, so what did it matter? It stands as a teen book. If it’s too close to the source material, so what? That doesn’t matter for the audience it would do best with. Even if they’ve seen it, we’re talking about the generation that made Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and Carry On bestsellers. This isn’t a generation that thinks that meta-narratives don’t have their own worth.

So I’m ordering Armada today for my teen collection, and no one here will stop me. Nor should they. Armada is a teen book, and I’m going to put it where my teens can read it. Then we’ll see what they think. Dollars to donuts, they will enjoy it for what it is, not what they want it to be.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom McD permalink
    January 18, 2018 3:45 pm

    Ok I don’t have a problem with it being YA as long as it comes with a warning about the language. The language in this book is so profane that If it was a movie it would get a R rating. If it was a music cd it would have a parental advisory label on it. The language in the book makes it worth a warning to its readers.
    I read the book. Enjoyed it. But while I would leave it up to my 16 or older child whether to read it or not, I would not let my 11 or 13 year old touch it. I don’t let them watch those kind of movies or listen to that kind of music.
    I’m also not advocating book burning or banning it. I just believe as a parent it needs a warning label if it’s going to be YA.
    Lastly, if this is the future of YA, count on that explicit language sticker on cd’s being put on books.

    • bookslide permalink*
      February 22, 2018 6:26 pm

      I believe the word “adult” is in “young adult” for a reason. I also believe that it’s strange that parents are often up in arms about language, when children are using that language with each other all the time. I’m pretty sure most of the kids I know cursed less as teens than as tweens, because there’s a power to the forbidden.

      I don’t believe advisory warnings are necessary for music either, but I understand why they exist. If you default to thinking of the genres like movie ratings, it makes sense: G for picture books, PG for juvenile, PG-13 for teens, R for adults–and even those are possibilities.

      When my child was 10-12, I read pretty much everything they did. There were books we had to discuss during or afterward if they wanted permission to read them. I had no such rules growing up, and since there was much less of a YA section, I started reading the books lying around my parents’ and grandparents’ houses by the time I was about eight or nine. Books made by and for adults. The “bad” stuff went right over my head most of the time. I don’t think it ultimately matters as long as you have open communication with your children and let them know what your expectations are for them as they live beneath your roof.

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