What’s in your YA book?

by Jennifer Dyer

I love to read. As a fledgling writer, I churn through the pages of books, awed and  humbled at the intricate works so many authors pen.

However, I also stare open-mouthed at some of the fiction that crosses my threshold, especially from the Young Adult (YA) shelves of the library and bookstores.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the New York Times bestsellers in the YA market.

In addition to the all-to-common vampires, werewolves, witches, and various cross-breeds of the traditional paranormal casts, I’ve seen:

  • Explicit and erotic sexuality
  • Casual sex
  • Road trips to hell
  • Reincarnation
  • Characters who find out they are really a god/goddess
  • Murder
  • Wild parties: drinking both of alcohol and blood
  • Characters who call on the “sweet” name of Jesus, but are heavily involved in the occult
  • Blood–lots and lots of it
  • References to watching two teen boys together in a sexual sense as “totally hot”
  • Cheating death by taking part in rituals and/or becoming an evil being
  • Incestuous yearnings and relationships
  • An increase in the use of Nephilim as characters*

Yes, I see from the list that this looks a bit like some of the Greek tragedies I read in college. But those were tragedies, moral plays, and warnings for others. Most of the books I’ve read recently glorify and glamorize evil. Many authors are mixing pieces of Christianity in with mysticism, witchcraft, voodoo, astrology, reincarnation, and blatant Satanic rituals. Sometimes the characters learn to triumph over the bad guy, perhaps, but it is often through use of equally demonic means.

Lest you think I have become squeamish or a prude, I assure you I like speculative and paranormal fiction much more than the average person. (I often review YA and speculative fiction here and on my other blog.) But what I see all too often is a glorification of the demonic realm, something not to be taken lightly.

In Galatians 5:19-21Revelation 9:21 and Revelation 21:8, we are clearly warned to steer clear of sorcery, witchcraft, astrology, summoning demons, and sexual immorality. Yet, these books I’ve been skimming through are bestsellers. Read by children. So, who is buying these books that wrap this evil in a beautiful, glorious package? Libraries and parents, lots and lots of them.

I tell you this not to shame the entire YA genre. There are many, many wonderful books to be found in those shelves. But I urge you to beware of what lies in  between those beautiful covers.

*Nephilim are mentioned in Genesis 6:1-6 in the Bible as the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men. Many people believe this means the children were fathered by angelic/demonic beings and mothered by human women–hence another superhuman member to our paranormal cast.

In YA fiction, Nephilim descendants often must come to terms with their demonic origins. Sometimes this is played out in a moral sense: choosing between good and evil. I’ve read some authors who have done this very well, beautifully in fact. Sometimes, though, the demonic world is portrayed as fascinating, a place to gain power over regular mortals.

What are some of the shocking subjects you have found in books?

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4 thoughts on “What’s in your YA book?

  1. Thanks for the warning. As in any book we purchase for our children/grandchildren, we of the older generation can be deceived by the cover, title, and the short “teaser” to entice you to read the book.

  2. Very timely article, Jennifer. I am concerned about some of the books my elementary-age grandchildren have checked out of their public school library dealing with mysticism and such. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so wonderfully on this subject.

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