Thursday, April 20, 2006

Now You Can Write Your Own

Thanks to Rosemary Graham for this link to Create Your Own Young Adult Novel.

They Weren't Talking About This Kind of YA Novel, Though

Yes, folks, I finished reading The A-List by Zoey Dean, who you would think would have a website. If so, I couldn't find it.

I found The A-List to have a weak, stereotypical moral code underneath the slutty Twenty-first Century behavior. The secondary girl characters are definitely sexually active, but they're all quite awful people--except for one, who is not very bright, which I guess is the equivalent of being awful. They also have trouble in their backgrounds. One girl is a size ten and thus has body issue problems. (Yeah, me, too.) The meanest and most nasty girl can't sleep away from home, even with a guy, because the night of her first sleepover at a girlfriend's house her mother died. If she leaves home, she's afraid her dad will go, too.

I have trouble seeing how anyone can find these characters people they'd want to emulate.

Anna, the "good" protagonist (who comes from old money, unlike the A-Listers who are children of Hollywood) never actually has sex. Whenever she does something slutty or out there--goes into an airplane bathroom with a guy she's just met, lies, wears slutty clothes--she's punished by being humiliated. She gets naked with a guy she's known less than a day, but she decides to hold on to her virtue, after all, and says no at the last possible minute. She is punished for the naked part, though. The guy abandons her--sort of--miles from home.

Whenever Anna's in a tough situation, she draws on her mother's blue-blood mannerisms, even though she doesn't appear to have a good relationship with her mother. I found that rather interesting.

Another interesting point is that though there is talk about the characters' sexual activity, it's not at all erotic or enticing. We're told, for instance, that a character keeps a lipstick and a condom in her designer clutch bag. I can't see anyone getting all hot and bothered about that. Twilight was a far more stimulating book.

Product names are used instead of description in The A-List just as they are in Best Friends For Never. In the The A-List you also have name dropping to show that characters are supposed to be smart. There are references to Lady's Chatterly's Lover and Anais Nin, who had a reputation for writing a sexy thing or two in her time. Personally, I thought the joke about a girl being hot enough to make the Iceman cometh was clever. I wonder how many teen readers get it, though. You can't convince me that this book is read primarily by prep school students.

I know that there are some teenagers who live much like the kids in this book in terms of having large sums of money at their disposal and virtually no supervision. I suspect that most of the kids who read it, don't. I'm guessing that, what with the book's stereoptypical characters, stereotypical phrasing, and lack of a real ending, most readers aren't going to take it terribly seriously.

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