This is a topic that I feel really passionately about so this might be a tad long but this is a discussion post so I welcome your opinions!
WHY IT MATTERS:
Sex in young adult is extremely important, the reason sex is so important is because teenagers need something they can relate to. Whether that be in fantasy or contemporary, it really doesn’t matter. The point is that, the majority or characters in YA novels are teenagers, and teenagers are the target audience for this age group of books.
What I’m really trying to get at here is basically just that teenagers need something they can connect with. And that is the build up of sexual relationships – it’s not having known someone for a week and then wam bam thank you ma’am! It’s getting to know someone, it’s organising your time between homework or planning on how to defeat evil and spending time with your person and going on normal people dates. When do teens in YA ever just take their partner to a movie or just go to a cheap cafe for Valentines day because they’re too poor to buy flower and the works?
Young Adult, from what I’ve read so far, is missing the reality that he targeted audience knows and lives. In reality, there are kids under 16 who have actually had sex, but don’t tell a YA author that because they might have a heart attack – which YA character isn’t a precious little virgin god/dess.
IS IT STILL YA?
So we’ve already established that YA novels rarely have sex scenes, but what about the ones that do?
I have not read too many YA books that actually include sex scenes but I have certainly heard about a few that have them. Yes, I’m talking about the Throne of Glass series and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. TOG started off pretty normal – Granted, I’ve only read book 1.
Actually, two seconds people. I’m going to put in a disclaimer here. I really dislike these two series so if I get super mad, please excuse me.
Okay, back on track – Throne of Glass. This series started off like a typical young adult fantasy series but then as the series developed with the characters I believe sex scenes started to incorporate themselves into the story. I think this was around book three but I could be wrong. (UPDATE: It’s book five)
Now, this isn’t my problem. Personally, I don’t have a problem with sex in books. But I do think there should be a warning on the back of the book, and I’ll tell you why.I’ll use TOG as an example for this discussion because I have a lot of feelings concerning it.
The idea of sex is not an issue for me, however the sex is. So often in YA novels sex scenes are flowery and unrealistic. The characters are perfect during their first time and quickly become sex pros (*coughs* Anastaia Steele.) Personally, I want to see more teenagers fumbling or not orgasming during their first time, I want to see them being nervous and inexperienced, I want to see them say no and admit that maybe they’re just not ready yet. And on more of a personal note, I want to see kids explore the possibility that they might not want to have sex ever.
Okay, I went on a slight tangent there, sorry, but I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
What I really want to get down to here is this: is it appropriate?
Is non-labelled sex appropriate? And what I mean by that is: books that do not say on the cover or the back that there are sex scenes. In adult this is not an issue, however, in YA it is. And this is for one simple reason, the reason that spurs me to write this post and rant on a weekly basis: It is not only teenagers who read young adult.
There are twelve year olds who are reading this series right now, they bought the book/s with their birthday or their unsuspecting parents bought it for them. Do you see where I’m coming from? It’s a particular problem for me because this came out around the time I started to get into young adult , and had I known about it, I probably would have loved it.
Now, twelve year olds are starting this series and while it is a bit more mature than some other YA books it is still appropriate. But then you get up to roughly book 3 and BAM sex scenes, and from what I’ve seen in reviews and quotes, they are explicit, mountain breaking, thunder inducing sex scenes. Now, tell me, would you want a kid reading that? Think about the poor parents who have bought these books for their children only to find out what they let their child read.
I think a series changing from middle-grade to young adult is fine but YA to adult is a completely different can of worms.
What about you guys? Do you have an opinion on sex in YA?