1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    How do I do this in a Young Adult novel?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Justin Rocket 2, Jun 13, 2013.

    So here's the setting, the teens are all scions of the Norse gods in the modern world. The protagonist, Luke, is the scion of Loki.

    Luke is being raised by his step-dad (his mom died a couple of years ago) and has a reputation as a trouble-maker, though he has a good heart and is very loyal to the few people who treat him well/respect him.

    When he meets the other teens in the story, almost none of them trust him (because he is the scion of Loki). The scion of Baldur, Booth, (a rather charismatic teen), however, does trust him (oddly enough). This makes Booth Luke's only friend. Luke knows about the myth of how Baldur was killed by Loki. Luke is appalled by it and has sworn never to do anything of the sort. All the teens are on a quest to stop Ragnorak. At a critical moment, to save the quest (and prevent the end of the world), Luke sets Booth on a suicide mission. Booth dies. This sends Luke into a dark time of the soul.

    Luke's loss of innocence here is an important plot point and leads into Luke being "reborn" into a true hero. Before this, he acted from a "self-defense" mindset (constantly expecting to be judged/ostracized), all of his actions were designed to make people like him. After this, he becomes committed to something greater than himself and thinks less about "self-defense" and more about "self-empowerment" and about using his skills/talents to help others no matter the cost simply because it is the right thing to do (of course, being the son of a trickster god, his "skills/talents" are trickery, cleverness, quick wit, deceitfulness, etc.)

    Now, sending someone on a suicide mission is easy to handle in an adult book, but is it too dark for a Young Adult novel? If so, how might I blunt it a bit to make it more age appropriate (12-14 year old readers)?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    YA isn't like it was 20 years ago. If you read YA these days, you'll find as complete a range of dark, mature issues and themes as any adult book. Murder, rape, suicide, drugs, sex, pregnancy, terminal illness, and so on. They're not even always handled much differently from adult novels. If you look at the link, below, you'll find Chuck Wendig's blog post on YA novels. Two items that stand out in relation to what you're talking about:



    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/06/04/25-things-you-should-know-about-young-adult-fiction/
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even the Percy Jackson book series, which seems very similar to your story, deals with war and a lot of death. And the Percy Jackson book series is (technically) not YA at all, but a children's literature series. It's in the kid's book section. lol So I think you can get away with it in a YA book.
     
  4. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    I agree with the observations that the "standards" have changed. I'm not too happy about it personally, but that's life. Ultimately, whether you decide to use such stories depends on your philosophy of life; are those the things you want to preach to your desired audience?

    Offtopic: I think you can use this quote or its derivatives, "Some things in this world must be protected, even if it means getting your hands dirty."
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it's too dark, but what do I know, I've noticed that the YA fiction in my country is vastly different from some YA I've read from American or English authors, one big diff being the language. The teens speak like teens speak, and it sure doesn't sound pretty.
     
  6. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    I think you have the right strategy to handle it. Adult books and Young Adults books share a lot of themes in common as far as the issues and emotions they deal with. Just make sure that your characters are relatable to teenagers and deal with everything on the level a teenager would.
     
  7. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    Definitely not too dark. I'm currently reading a semi-fantasy book involving a boy who ends up being tied up in issues with demons, vampire hunters, and zombies. To top all that off his mom is a pole dancer trying to make sure her boy doesn't end up like his father -a mass murderer on Death Row. The issues are brought on bluntly, but it does not go too into detail. I didn't even realize it until several chapters in -and then i realized that our society is quite pathetic when it comes to who is trash or not. The woman is just trying to get by with what little money she makes, and there was no other job available. She got pregnant, had to choose to either abort or leave her wealthy family, and chose the baby.

    Honestly, despite her job, i'd back her any day for picking life for her child. She gives him all the love and care that he needs, rather than the wants that so many people have today. They are stuck in a ghetto with no electricity, with powdered eggs and whatever food that has expired comes from the store. Usually bacon.

    However, the boy's life -as it starts going crazy with demons and other stuff- also begins to look brighter as he gains a job at a vampire hunter's mansion and works for a thousand a week AFTER his new boss saved his life and paid for his hospital bills!

    Too good to be true? he asks that a lot.

    But it's all in the plot.... and i'm not going to give any major spoilers! :p

    The book is called Infinity: A Chronicle of Nick
     
  8. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Even Harry Potter got darker as it progressed. All I have to say about the matter has already been brought up in the posts above. So, I'll just say go for it.
     
  9. Ann-Russell
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    Ann-Russell Member

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    I agree with what everyone has said. I don't think its too dark for YA these days at all. I think it was Branden Sanderson that said (paraphrasing here) middle grade books are given to kids by adults, but for YA books the kids/teens choose them themselves. A lot of YA readers are drawn to books that deal with the darker side of things almost as another way to rebel (IMO).
     
  10. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    If you're writing an adventure tale or a coming-of-age story then death is a natural theme to explore. If your target audience is young teens then you should approach it in a way that is both exciting and age-relevant. You want them to engage with issues that are important to them while putting them in fantastical situations.
     
  11. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I don't think it's too dark. People of all ages encounter dark things. There are successful YA books out there about drug abuse, self harm, suicide, and death.
     
  12. circ
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    circ New Member

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    I do wonder though... if YA has all the same themes as so-called adult fiction, what distinguishes YA fiction? Surely it isn't the main character. Oliver Twist is no YA novel. Or is it?
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A lot of times it's the age of the main character. YA fiction tends to have main characters who are around the same age as the intended audience. Books like Oliver Twist are classics, so labels like YA and adult don't (and IMO shouldn't) apply here. Such labels are marketing tools, that's all.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I believe Oliver Twist was, in fact, read by children in the 19th century and in the times since, as well as by adults (in that respect, it is like modern YA literature). I agree with [MENTION=5272]thirdwind[/MENTION] that the labels don't apply so well to classic works, but if Oliver Twist were published today it might very well be marketed as YA. In fact, given the sales in YA fiction I think it is pretty likely.
     
  15. jennym123
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    jennym123 Member

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    I'm jumping on the bandwagon; just play it like it is.
     
  16. NicoleAnne416
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    NicoleAnne416 New Member

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    I say no it's not too dark. In the fantasy YA novels, people kill other people all of the time. In 13 reasons why (a great YA novel), a girl committed suicide. It was the central point of the story.

    As for the same content as adult novels, in my opinion, I would say that yes a lot of the same issues and content is in YA, but I feel that the viewpoints, and the conclusions may be different than in an adult novel of the same type of content, as the young adult's themselves are coming of age and in some ways view many situations differently than adults would. Teens will also sometimes get different things out of the same novel an adult would. Just my $.02
     
  17. JindleBrey
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    JindleBrey Member

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    It's definitely not too dark. Loads of adults like to read YA books.

    Anyway, wasn't Harry Potter on a suicide mission from the day his parents died?
     

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