As James Howard Kunstler likes to say, hyperbolically, we are a wicked people and deserve to be judged. From today’s NYT:
Vampire and wizard fans are apparently ready for characters who shed their robes and show a little more skin.
Publishers and authors say they are seeing a spurt in sales of books that fit into the young-adult genre in their length and emotional intensity, but feature slightly older characters and significantly more sex, explicitly detailed.
They’ve labeled this category “new adult” — which some winkingly describe as Harry Potter meets “50 Shades of Grey” — and say it is aimed at 18-to-25-year-olds, the age group right above young adult.
Mm-hmm. That’s what they say. More:
This week Simon & Schuster’s Children’s [!! — RD] Publishing released, in e-book format only, an “uncut and uncensored” version of “The Vincent Boys” and “The Vincent Brothers,” books for teenagers that were on the USA Today extended best-seller list when Abbi Glines self-published them in June.
The earlier versions of the books followed young-adult conventions and went to the edge of describing sex, and no further. The new uncut versions, labeled appropriate only for ages 17 and up, are explicit about sexual activity — with exclamations of rapture and all.
Other titles that have had recent success in the genre include “Losing It,” by Cora Carmack, about a college senior who decides to shed her virginity in a one-night stand; “Slammed,” by Colleen Hoover, about a high school senior who has a summer affair with a man who turns out to be her new poetry teacher; and “Easy,” by Tammara Webber, about a college freshman negotiating new love and a stalker.
“We are seeing a transitional generation,” concludes Ms. Glines, who started by publishing young-adult fiction and has slowly been adding steamier material as she has seen it drive up sales of her books. “They want a good narrative with the emotional intensity of teenagers, but they want sex, too.”
Promiscuous sophomore Gin is throwing a “Rainbow Party,” at which girls “put on a different color lipstick, and the guys all drop their pants.” In theory, after the girls perform oral sex on the boys, they would be left with rainbows around their penises. The author takes the perspective of Gin and her invitees in the hours before her after-school party. They all have reasons for going (Sandy hopes to find love, virgin Brick is being pressured by his friend to gain sexual experience, and there are rumors that Perry is gay)—and their own anxieties, too. This debut novel takes a steamy premise, and adds in plenty of racy material, too, including oral sex between two boys in a school bathroom, but while the author makes a compelling argument against abstinence-only education and also against limited definitions of sex, readers may tire of the standard-issue characters. They may also start to cringe every time a character talks about oral sex not really being sex. There is some important information to be gleaned here (Gin and Perry have mysterious sore throats, and Hunter notices a “burning sensation” when he urinates; later they learn of a gonorrhea outbreak among the sophomore class), but in the end, the story here is not as compelling as its premise. Ages 14-up.
The damnedest thing about trying to raise kids in this corrupt culture is that you can do your very best to protect them from this stuff, but given that community standards are weak, inconsistent, or non-existent, there’s always some kid whose parents like him or her partake of it. My sense is that the only thing you can do is work to build up their internal sense of resistance — that is, their moral confidence, their conscience — such that they turn away from it when it is offered to them. Because any defense you might have claimed in social norms is a thing of the past.