Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When "Saturated" is Putting it Lightly . . .

With all of the shenanigans happening about authors/agents/whoever losing their shit over negative reviews, I'm left wondering why it's happening. Not shit being lost, but the negative reviews. If you read some of these reviews that others are going insane over, there appears to be a consistent theme: story-line fatigue (to put it nicely). So are these reviewers reaching their tipping points with that one review that garners all that attention? Have they finally had enough? And instead of going insane on these reviewers for their opinions, shouldn't this issue be addressed at its source? What company, in its right mind, is going to show down a consumer and scream, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Why don't you like my product? You're obviously a failure!" They're not. They're going to listen to the public. Research and development, anyone? They listen to their consumers and then tailor their product based on popular opinion.

Now, the question here is what is popular opinion. Is the popular opinion that TWILIGHT knock offs really do sell so publishers are going to keep pumping them out? Or are the publishers wanting to milk a wave so badly that they'll continue spitting out a sub par product regardless of what the public thinks? To force the market, if you will. How much mirrored YA PNR is out there now? Or dystopians? All with covers featuring girls in pretty dresses? Is this what the public REALLY wants or is it what's being forced on them, and thus heavy-handing them their opinions for them? Chicken or the egg?

I'm really leery about reading dystopians at the moment because if I come across another one whose world-building is absolutely atrocious for the sake of building a love triangle, I might lose my mind. I avoid YA PNR altogether. I don't think I have one dressed up chick cover in my pile. All the covers look the same, what makes anyone think that I'm going to think any differently about what's on the inside? Plus PNR isn't really my thing to begin with. And I'm starting to wear thin on contemporaries, namely contemporaries with a really effed up MC. My definition of effed up is pretty broad but it appears that in order to compensate for all of the well-adjusted MCs in contemporaries, a rash of maladjusted MCs in contemporaries has come out. Not that anything's wrong with that. I'm by no means required to read any of it. And it's not like the stuff I'm coming across is bad. It's just too much is starting to get depressing so I need to step away from it. But what do I step away to? My options are a bit thin.

So when our options are limited, and we're REALLY trying to like what we're reading but it's falling short, who's to blame? The reader because they didn't like the book? The author for not writing a better story? Or the publisher/agent for acquiring yet another copy cat? I've read enough agent blogs to know that most agents say they really need to love a book to take it on. And I totally believe it. How else are they going to sell that manuscript if they can't get behind it 100%? But looking at some of the books that are coming out, I can't help but wonder what some agents/publishers see when they see these manuscripts. Are they truly in love with them as I'd like to believe? Or are they in love with the potential paycheck it's going to offer because it can surf the wave with the rest? I do genuinely like to think the best of people until they prove me wrong. But that's not going to stop me from questioning. And I honestly believe I'm right to question.

The good, original, unique works should not be buried under copy cat after copy cat after copy cat. That many copy cats shouldn't exist! It's one thing to write in the same genre. It's another thing entirely to be able to take a stack of books, flip around all of the characters and still have the same damn story. This is getting old and I think this is what people are really reacting to. Give us something new and different that we can sink our teeth into! And don't be surprised when we cringe and back away from the same pile of leftovers we've been eating for the past week.

Waves seem to hit hard in YA and that's okay. But since YA still needs to fight for every shred of dignity it currently has, it does nothing to shoot it in the foot with mirror-imaged wave riders and subsequent fall out. If YA wants to be taken seriously, it needs to start taking itself seriously. Start putting out the rich, voluptuous stories that I KNOW are out there. Stop pushing them aside for even more knock offs. We can tell when they're fake. We're not blind. We want the good stuff. Sure it may cost more but I'd like to think the payoff would be well worth it.
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