When Do YA Novels Go Too Far, If Ever?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

YA novels often feature some very strong subjects, ranging from war (as discussed in today’s feature story), to drug and sexual abuse, to self-mutillation and suicide — not to mention bucket loads of profanity. It is a reflection of these society in which we live. Yet at least one academic researcher, Sarah Coyne, lead researcher of the study and a professor in Brigham Young University’s department of family life, is calling for a ratings system for YA novels, akin to that which is used to label records. As a US News and World Report article from earlier this year explained: “Coyne thinks a ratings system on book jackets would help parents decide what’s appropriate for their kids to read,” but added, “It’s a subject many are afraid to touch.”

While a rating system might put spark another round of controversy, much the same way that greeted the ratings system for albums and video games, do you believe that YA novels can go too far? For example, with masses of adults snapping up Fifty Shades‘ BDSM-light erotica this summer, how soon will it be before some enterprising YA publishers flirts with that line? Perhaps some already have.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.