March 1st, 2009

single deer

Sweet books...

So I've read about 45 of the ARCs so far. And I'm definitely seeing a trend -- there aren't many sweet books. I am NOT, btw, equating 'sweet' with 'good' -- I have read many, many good books, both sweet and not as sweet :)

No, by 'sweet' I mean books with few edges, books with a sweet love story, perhaps, or a sweet coming of age plot...books like that. What exactly do I consider sweet then? DON'T JUDGE A GIRL BY HER COVER, by Ally Carter is sweet, imo. It's not sticky-sweet -- it's just a good story (exciting, imo) about a girl in unusual situations -- with no drugs or violence (well, other than spy violence) or teenage drama (again, other than spy drama, hehe). WINGS, by Aprilynne Pike is another I'd call sweet -- this doesn't mean it's slow or boring -- I very much enjoyed the world she built. And one of the reasons I loved it so much is that there weren't the dark corners, the edgy feel to things.

When I taught, I had many, many students (mostly girls) who loved sweet books -- who looked for them. They wanted the love stories, the fantasies, the action plots in a 'sweet' wrapping. I know those types of readers still exist today.

It's hard to figure out what sweet encompasses, because I think many people hear that word and think of Pollyanna (ie, no complications, perhaps?). Yet both those books I mention above (along with THE SQUAD books by Jen Barnes, MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL, by Kristin Walker, THE SECRET LIFE OF SPARROW DELANEY, by Suzanne Harper, and older books like MEET THE AUSTINS, by Madeliene L'Engle or UP THE ROAD SLOWLY, by Irene Hunt) have definite tensions and complications -- they're page-turners. I want to know these characters more, to spend time in their world learning about their lives, their thoughts.

I wouldn't want only sweet books to read, of course -- the variety available right now is wonderful -- but I do think it's weak on the sweet side. For every ten dark/edgy great book, there might be one available great sweet book. Maybe. I keep reading that the pendulum is swinging the other way, but for the books coming out this year that I've read? Not so much, so far.

Personally, I'd love to see at least five great sweet books for every ten great dark/edgy books...how about you? Do you feel like the balance is right for the teens you know?