I inwardly groaned at the start of The Program; I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately with preposterous plots (it’s the reason I love YA) and I wondered if I’d reached a natural break. Then The Program reeled me in and I was hooked enough to want to finish. A slow, rather than rapid, start.
Sex is difficult for authors to write about in any genre, you only need to look at the Bad Sex Awards which take place every year and always feature really well-known and revered writers. But it’s doubly difficult if your audience is YA; How much do you include? Where do you draw the line? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, prompted by slightly differing posts from BookRiot here and BookDaily here.
A lot of the YA books that I’ve read lately imagine their protagonists in situations that the average YA hopefully isn’t in: embroiled in some dystopian marriage nightmare (The Selection); dealing with parents who beat them up/contemplating suicide (All The Bright Places); or running from people who are trying to kill them (Unwind). So it’s quite refreshing to read a book about a normal teenager dealing with day-to-day insecurities even if it is through the prism of death; seventeen year old Mia is in a car crash that kills her family and in grave danger in hospital, she has to decide if she should live or die. She runs back through her life so far to make the choice.
The Selection by Kiera Cass is a modern girl’s nightmare. The premise is interesting enough in a Mills and Boon kinda way – the rich prince wants to get married and allows millions of girls to apply to be his princess. A sort of equal-opportunity marriage race in a dystopian disaster. It’s the reason I love YA novels; I can easily suspend disbelief in ridiculous plots if they are well written and plausible in a new-world-order kind of way.