Please see this post on YA Highway http://www.yahighway.com/2010/10/in-which-add-reader-invites-you-to-jump.html or you won't get the full effect of my diatribe :)
This post sums up so much of what is wrong with America and books, and the perception of intelligence in the United States that I want to fucking hit someone.
There is an assumption that EVERYTHING smacking of intelligence is elitist and irrelevant. There is an assumption that teenagers can't/won't/and don't appreciate anything not involving tons of ex, drugs, and pop culture references. That some how we should expect LESS from today's teens, because as the post says they ALL have ADD and ADHD and therefore we shouldn't expect them to like anything.
Therefore I posit that all book for the YA audience should be composed solely of the following words so teenagers will actually read something.
The list of approved vocabulary: Boobs, cock, fuck, shit, Paris Hilton, Jay Z, Lady Gaga, sex, orgasm, R. Kelly, tits, oral sex (although this is two words and the kids may lose interest after the first word), zombies, vampire, money, poop, piss, hell, bitch, Nintendo, billionaire, PS3 and luxury car (again two words and that may be expecting too much from their little chestnut brains).
These words can be strung together in any order for the space of 280 pages. Any longer than that and the target teens will lose interest. Plot not required. Extra words like the, it, is, were, to, too, and, that are optional- just be sure not to bog down your manuscript. We want the kids to read something- anything.
I also find that post hypocritical. If one reads anything about the how-to of writing for teens everyone says "Don't talk down to your audience". But isn't this the assumption being made? That literature is irrelevant. Intelligence is passe. And no proper teen would or ever could sit through To Kill a Mockingbird? Or worse yet ENJOY the book. Some where out there MUST be teenagers reading a book written before 2009 and enjoying it.
For the record this is my reply to the post itself on YA Highway. I am the sole voice of dissent as well, which seems to be my chronic state.
Either I am a freak of nature or this post is rather insulting.
I will admit to being old now (36) but when I was a teen I #1)didn't read YA and #2) voluntarily, on my own read Beowulf after reading a small section in class.
I LIKED the Scarlet Letter and infact enjoyed a lot of what we read in English class including Pygmalion and Shakespeare. In college I read Jane Eyre of my own volition and loved it.
I also have to disagree with your analysis of the opening of To Kill A Mockingbird it states that Jem is the narrator's brother.
I actually had a 'wait hold up' moment during the opening of Neil Gaiman's book. What is the hand in the darkness attached to?
Perhaps you meant this post facetiously in which case sorry for coming down on it.
I'm just so tired of really good literature taking a beating when these books ARE SO WORTHWHILE. They have stood the test of time and till offer worthy and valid perspectives even in this modern age. NONE of that can be aid of either of the two contemporary books you quote and portray as being so much more relevant.
Perhaps in 100 years we will see if anyone is still reading Neil Gaiman or 'It's Kind of a Funny Story'.
To avoid embarrassing myself even more I fixed the spelling in my posted reply to the blog here because I could! For the best hilarity read it on YA Highway as I argue for intelligence and spell horrifically! The irony is not lost...