I have kept quiet about this. Up until now, I haven’t posted anything about what’s been happening in the YA blogosphere, because I wasn’t sure how to talk about it, or if I was even qualified to weigh in. But today? Today I was reading posts about the YA Mafia, and about possible consequences as a result of a bad or critical review, and about how cliquey the YA author world seems to be getting, and I got kind of upset. So I’m adding my voice to the ring.
There are a ton of blogs out there that are covering this issue (and probably doing a better job than I’m about to), but in order for me to really focus my thoughts about this, I’m going to try to sum up what’s happening, to0 (while also linking to other great posts about it). Here’s what’s happening.
Some discussion has been happening about the concept of a YA Mafia, a group of YA writers who write blurbs for one another’s books, who are friends with each other, and who defend one another’s work from criticism. The problem is that a fear has developed amongst book bloggers regarding these writers (and YA writers in general, maybe): if a reviewer gives a bad review, they may face penalty or punishment as a result. This penalty seems to have to do with a fear of being added to a blacklist of sorts, and it seems to impact reviewers who are also trying to get published. Much has been made about possible “career ruination,” and this fear has prompted some blogger-writers to question or even give up writing reviews of books.
This makes me sad. It really bums me out, Gentle Readers, because not only is the Internet being deprived of some great posts about books (I still miss seeing reviews from Jordyn at Ten Cent Notes), but something about this whole thing feels like censorship. As a teacher, a writer, a blogger, a reader, and a librarian-in-training, censorship really pisses me off.
That being said, I have a few things I’d like to say:
1. I love books, and most of what I review are YA titles. While I might not love every single book I read, I try to review them fairly. My reviews are not for the authors. They are for readers, and they are also for myself, so that I can keep a record of what I read and what I think about what I read. It’s a way for me to challenge myself and grow as a writer.
2. Posting on the internet is public, and I am responsible for the things I write. As a responsible blogger, I feel like it’s my duty to be honest, respectful, and articulate. I try to do that with every review I write, even when I’m feeling (internal) pressure to write a positive review for an ARC that I’ve received. I’m a critical thinker, and I hope that I apply those skills to the books I read. When I write a review of a book I didn’t love, I try to find things about it that I did like. I also try to provide a balanced, constructive review of the book, and I try not to ever completely tear something to shreds. I am honest with myself and in my writing, and I stand by what I write.
There’s so much more to be said about what’s going on, though.
Instead of rehashing the entire discussion happening, I’ll provide some links to posts where it’s going down. I encourage you to click around, do some reading, form an educated opinion about what’s going on.
Here’s where to go for more information:
- Holly Black has a post about the YA Mafia and whether or not it’s possible for someone else to ruin your career.
- Justine Larbalestier says you shouldn’t worry about the theoretical YA Mafia.
- Cleolinda talks about snarkbaiting and the purpose of reviews
- Janni Lee Simmer asks writers to affirm that they’re okay with critical reviews
- The Sparkle Project talks about the increasing clique-y feeling of the YA world
YA Highway’s round-up is more comprehensive and better-written than anything I could ever hope to produce.
Want to weigh in? Leave your thoughts in the comments.