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Neener! Neener!

I introduced my sisters to The Hunger Games. Naturally, because my taste is all bad (little sisters always think your taste is bad and then come back and tell you you were right) they didn't listen until the Taylor Swift song came out for the movie. And when they finally did read they had different opinions than me ('there so is a love triangle!' they cried, 'Peeta is dumb!' they cried, 'he's named after bread!' they cried). 

I was not amused. Particularly because I react really poorly to criticism of things I like when those criticisms are shoved down my throat. When someone says to me why do you like this? Look at all these problems? I do the adult equivalent of clapping my hands over my ears and shrieking, I can't hear you over the awesome of my impeccable taste. (I think at one point I slammed the door in my sister's face as she listed all of Peeta's flaws. While shrieking horrible things at her.)

Which, really, is not a very adult thing to do? 

A few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend about a Thing -- mostly it was me ranting and raving about all the things, from a critical and not so critical stand point -- that were wrong with it.  Why are you ruining this for me? she cried. (There's is lots of dramatic crying out going on in my life, just in case you couldn't tell.) And I replied, in a very dignified 'I am going to be getting a degree which requires this level of thinking' manner, because that's the sort of thing you should do! Look for cracks! Analyze! Media is not created in a vacuum! etc etc.

Insert nervous hypocritical laugh here.

It got me thinking.  I love YA, I write YA, YA is my thing and I never want to leave -- but there's defending YA and there's being defensive and I don't want the nuances of critique to get lost in between. I think it's an amazing genre, always unraveling the limits, being explicitly about the ladies, elevating us and being written by us.

But I think maybe you shouldn't uncritically like a thing, and being a genre by and for us (the 'us' is murky because that us is a lot of times straight, white, able bodied girls of the middle class persuasion) is not enough to elevate it out of its problems. And we're writers! We're supposed to think about the world in creative ways, we're supposed to challenge the status quo! We're supposed to make things that have formative, long lasting impacts on the world around us and hope to create change.

And there's ignoring stupid statements like 'YA is dark and full of terrors!' because clearly their perusal of the young adult section at their local bookstore didn't actually happen. But I think sometimes we as a collective batten down the hatches and turn our backs and valid criticisms rebound off of our shield of potential awesome. And that taking a moment to read carefully and consider criticisms (like violence is not an indicator of passion. which one would assume is self evident, and yet!) will only help us as writers. 

The moral: do not be like me and engage in the adult equivalent of clapping your hands over your ears!
Somaiya Daud

Somaiya Daud received her BA and MA from a university in DC in English. She is currently working on her PhD. When not writing or studying, she spends too much time on the internet yelling about comics and robots. Her first novel, Mirage, is coming 2017 from Flatiron Books.

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  1. Great post - I fear I also do this on occasion (read: all the time) but you do make a valid point. Critiques can help us grow, no matter how painful they are at times to hear!

  2. This is so true! At times, I've read reviews of my favorite books and thought the people dogging them were CRAZY. Then, after first getting defensive and thinking they were off their rockers, I realized that though I didn't agree with them, they made decent points, at times. At that in turn actually helped me in my own writing.



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Item Reviewed: Neener! Neener! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sumayyah