Friday, April 8, 2011

The kids in books grown up

Ok, so my posts are very geared toward plotting and writing out a first draft of a book right now because, well, that's the stage I'm in with my writing, I have a WIP. When it's done and I start revising, you'll probably see a shift in subject.

So what else has kind of been floating around in my mind is this:

Not the movie. Well, okay, I am super excited about that and it has been floating around in my mind. But what I've been thinking about is if in books for the younger crowd having the characters grow up, get married, and have kids, is something they want to see.

Now, I'm fine when I read a book and I get an epilogue that shows the characters in the future. But, for some reason, I also think that authors get backlash from the young fans of the series (a good portion readers of children's books are also adults) if they do this.

Harry Potter. We get an epilogue. I've heard complaints about it. Although, I don't think it's because it shows the kids as adults, married, with their children. I think for Harry Potter, it was more of the fact that everything seemed overly cheerful, perhaps, after such a dark journey.

However, there are definitely two YA novels that have gotten some backlash from fans in this sense. Breaking Dawn and Mockingjay.

Breaking Dawn does not have an epilogue, but the fact that Bella and Edward have a baby was definitely a turn-off for some Twilight fans. Maybe it's because two thirds of the book dealt with this child in some form, readers were overdosed with it, opposed to another series which will mention children for a few pages at the end. But I did notice in my days of Twilight craze (yes, I admit that I was once obsessed with this series) most of the people who had problems with this plotline were teens. Bella and Edward suddenly had a disconnect from them. They were parents. I'm not sure what they're saying about teen pregnancy these days, but I'd wager most of the teens who read Twilight were not teen mothers. The older fans, it didn't bother them as much as, say, the absence of an epic battle at the end. But the older fans were generally mothers or close to motherhood and thinking about it more (sorry if you're a Twiguy and I'm leaving you out with most of these "how fans react thing" by referring to them all as female). Anyway, point: pregnancy and babies seem to estrange readers in the YA range when they are heavily dived into. Marriage...at least in Breaking Dawn, I don't think as much.

Mockingjay is very, very, very, very different from Twilight. But, it too got some backlash from fans and part of that was the (in my humble opinion) brilliantly beautiful epilogue. Katniss ends up with Peeta, and they have two children. Right as soon as I discussed the book with other fans, the epilogue was slammed as being horrible and unnecessary, and oh my gosh Suzanne Collins, you shouldn't have even written it! There were children. How could Katniss possibly have children? I think part of it may have been the fact that through the series, Katniss thinks she's not going to have children. Period. End of story. And then at the end, we find out Peeta's talked her into having kids. Now, I dug it because to me the kids showed how much their world had changed, that Katniss felt safe enough to have children. But some people didn't like it. And, again, I feel most of those people were teenagers and I think most of those people in general did not want children in the first place, so a point that they connected with Katniss had been severed.

So, my conclusion: Young adult readers can handle epilogues with their characters married and with children, just don't make it sappy. However, teens do not always bode well with reading extensively about life changes that they are not familiar with, like children. As for marriage, I'm not as sure how much a YA audience could handle. Generally, if a character gets married, it's at the end of the book and it's just the wedding. I've yet to see YA that delves into the realm of marriage in and of itself (Breaking Dawn mostly focuses on Renesmee). And, finally, readers don't like to see huge character changes in epilogues, even if they're amazing and make perfect sense (I mean really, I don't think Suzanne Collins could have done the epilogue better, I don't understand why some people don't get it. If you can't tell I love Mockingjay's epilogue).

As to where this leaves me...well, I don't know. Once I finish my WIP I'll still have two more books until I get up to this point and make a decision.

2 comments:

  1. One thing that bothered me about all of the above epilogues (there were so many other things wrong with Breaking Dawn that I won't even get into that discussion, ugh, that book. It read like the Worst. Fanfiction. Ever. ahem, anyway) was the implication that in order for everything to be okay, to be "happily ever after," the characters needed to procreate.
    I'm not a teenager anymore, but a working adult with one of those Real Office Jobs that scared me so much as a teen. Personally, I am not sure if I want to have kids. If I do decide to have them, I know it won't be until I'm at least 35, and possibly I'll want to adopt. I know I'm just one example, but quite a few of my friends, even the ones who are over 30 already, feel similarly.
    Most of those people I knew as a teen, and they knew from a young age that they didn't want to have kids until far in the future, if at all. I know that societally, it's normal to not want kids until the Biological Clock strikes or whatnot, but I think that a few epilogues without babies would be nice. Not all of them. But it would be nice to see at least one mega-popular YA author include an epilogue where the characters don't need to go against their previous ideals (like Katniss's assertions that she never wants to have children) in order to live happily ever after. I know plenty of older adults who decided not to have children, and still led fulfilling lives, either married or not.

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