I’m currently knee deep in books for the CYBILs (180, to be exact) and for the first time I’ve noticed something strange.
YA has an unhealthy obsession with dead people.
Dead parents, dead siblings, dead grandparents, dead friends, random dead people. You name it, and they’ve probably ended up dead ( this reminds me of a quote I heard once: the role of the beloved dog is the hardest job in children’s literature, because you spend the entire book helping the main character discover themselves only to end up dead in the end. Or something to that effect). Either way, this has made me reassess the way I look at YA.
YA, we need to talk. Why so many dead people? Can’t you work through your identity issues without so much mortality?
I never noticed it before now, but it’s kind of hard to ignore. I know that the death of a friend/loved one/random stranger can be a profoundly moving experience, and one that makes us reevaluate our own lives. The funny thing is, the books I’m loving the most are the ones where the author hasn’t had to kill of a loved one in order to move the main character along their path. But I think it’s harder to set characters on that path without the death of a loved one.
What do you think? Are contemporary books that rack up the body count something you like, or do you get bummed out by all funerals in YA?