Saturday, June 29, 2013

YA a different way 1. Great opp to support El Museo. Keystone XL Pipeline.

Assessing YA lit

La Bloga's contributors cover many genres, especially children's lit, Chicano nonfiction, memoirs, detective and crime, chicalit, works in Spanish, sci-fi, magic realism and poetry. The Young Adult genre has been covered, though nowhere as extensively as its share of the market.

Last year sales in young adult were up 13%, and up 117% in e-books, more than twice the digital growth in adult markets. Reports indicate that young adult fiction yielded much bigger advances to authors.

It's obviously an important genre, given its influence on the younger generation. Also, in a La Bloga series last year, "Spic vs spec - 1. Chicanos/latinos & sci-fi lit", I referenced how classic, American SciFi helped produce the scientists and engineers responsible for the U.S. space program.

For these and other reasons, I've decided to shift my posts to YA lit, especially to the speculative novels of SciFi, fantasy and magic realism. I will focus on books pertinent to Chicano, latino et al youth, but not exclude others.

I'm not a teenager, nor certain if I ever was a "regular" one, either. And from my limited understanding of YA, I won't be reviewing books, so much as assessing them for the messages they give to the young. In the process, I'll refer readers to other, regular reviews.

Morals, ethics, principles, beliefs--all reviewers inject some or much of this into their reviews. I propose to bring mine out front, bring them to bear on specific stories and come out on the other end with "what's the message," if you will.

Being subjective means my opinion can't be taken as THE word about YA books. My intention isn't to attempt to develop a Must-Read or Never-Let-Your-Kid-Read lists. Kids read what they want to, not what their parents wish they would, anyway.

I can already hear Latin@ author cringing, hoping I don't zero in on their work. I know how my gente is and don't necessarily expect my assessments will be met with open brazos. For that reason, I'm going to test my methods on non-brown authors and books first. That won't get me off the hook, but it will give you an idea of the basis for the appraisals. I'd welcome a better term than that one or assessments.

In the end, I hope to generate dialogue, not only among Chicano et al authors, about the nature of YA authorship in these times. I begin.

YA a different way 1

Halo - The Flood (2003) by NYT bestselling author William C. Dietz who's published over forty novels. On his website, Dietz doesn't list any more than he's an American author. Halo is one of the most popular war video games, so boys particularly may pick up one of novels in the series. The book was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten paperback bestseller, listed as SciFi genre, not YA. It's written as an "adult" book, but appeals to youth because of its game connection. (Here's reviews about it by gamestersGo here for an Amazon synopsis.)

If you're into war, kill, death, weapons, soldiers, alien enemies and earthling heroes, that's in the novel. If you're not, pick up something else. From the first chapter, the novel takes you in and through to the end of the Halo videogame.

So, what are some of the main messages conveyed to readers?
  • Tired or wounded soldiers can usually fix themselves with drugs, ganas or inspiring leaders, and keep on fighting.
  • There are no cowards on "our side," the earthlings'.
  • Our heroes always come up with more weapons or ammo and only run out of anything for brief periods.
  • Lack of sleep, rest or food never stops "our side" for long.
  • There are few female good-guy soldiers.
  • Shotguns aren't just legal in war, they're very good to use.
  • The enemy is stupid and are inferior fighters, no matter their technology.
  • It is quick and easy to kill hundreds of the enemy, no matter how many come at you or how they're armed.
  • The enemy doesn't take prisoners, except for special ones they need to torture for info, collaborate against their people, or Spartan, who is basically Super Soldier, their most deadly and seemingly invincible enemy.
  • The good guys, especially the hero Spartan, can go for hundreds of pages, killing hundreds of the enemy and suffer no regrets, PTSD or negative changes to their personalities.
  • In war, there is no collateral damage, since there are no civilians in the story.
  • The war on the alien threat is never-ending.

I plowed through this book and about two thirds of the way through, my mule had difficulty traversing the mud of death, body parts and blood. After a few thousand kills, I wondered about the mind of a reader still interested, entertained and avid to turn the page.

From what I've read, violent games don't breed school shooters. On the other hand, it's conceivable such games and a novel like this do breed something. I won't make this assessment any more subjective by saying what I think that is.

This completes YA A Different Way 1. I am very interested to know what La Bloga readers and contributors feel about this post. Should they include more? Should I push the envelope of criticism? Qué más?

Next time, I'll up the stakes by assessing the messages of non-Chicano author Paolo Bacigalupi, bestselling author of The Windup Girls--an incredible novel. I'll consider instead his two YA SciFi bestsellers, Shipbreakers and Drowned Cities. I'll examine his novels in the context of his words, "Give up on the adults!."

2 to 1 Matching Fundraising Campaign - Only 1 day left!

A worthy appeal from Denver's Museo de las Américas:

"Museo's long-term benefactor, Irving Tragen, has offered a matching grant that will make it possible to own our building in the Art District on Santa Fe that we have occupied since 1991. Mr. Tragen has offered $50,000 if we meet a goal of $25,000 by June 30, 2013. Through many Museo friends and 100% of our board contributing, we have raised $18,000.

"Please give today to support the only Latin American museum in Colorado, which serves 11,000 students and 20,000 visitors each year!

"Thank you for your generosity!"

Keystone XL Pipeline - not good news

From Obama's Climate Change statement:
"I know there's been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline - the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. The State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That's how it's always been done. But I do want to be clear. Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It's relevant."

It's relevant, as he says, but he may approve the pipeline. The reason is, the wording "significantly exacerbate." The State Dept.'s has already certified that the pipeline won't "significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The EPA is not in agreement. Pipelines leak, energy companies lie about safety and compliance,  their compliance with regulations. Those are the inescapable facts about pipelines, especially oil pipelines, especially tar-sands oil pipelines, especially tar-sands oil will poison the atmosphere and further char-broil the planet. The Oglalla Aquifer will be affected by the filthiest fossil-fuel ever. Obama may take a dive on this summer.

You can read more here
Here you can do something about it in your area, this summer.

Es todo, hoy,
aka Rudy Ch. Garcia, author of The Closet of Discarded Dreams, awarded Honorable Mention at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards, Fantasy/SciFi category


msedano said...

so, what about the mind of the reader drinking in this blood and guts stuff? as a high schooler i consumed war lit, naked and the dead, red badge of courage, battle cry and exodus, and knew all the service songs from vinyl. did that make me a good soldier who followed orders by day, did my own thing by night?

Anonymous said...

Sedano, I believe you answered your own question.
Besides, I only intend to do lit criticism, not psych evals.