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Ok. Now that I have let this sit for a few days, here's my take on it.
This article was published in the "Room for Debate" section of the NY Times. Mr. Joel Stein seems to believe that by reading young adult books, I am embarrassing myself. Mr. Stein, it is you who should be embarrassed; embarrassed for thinking books written for children and teens would be anything but complex. He, like many others, seems to be taking the younger populations for granted, and belittling the great works of fiction that today's YA authors are writing for our children and young adults.
YA authors take risks. They delve into things that make us uncomfortable. As Patricia McCormick, author of Sold, a YA book about sex trafficking (Sex trafficking for YA! That is beautifully written!) wrote in her article "Authors Taking Risks Isn't Kid Stuff",
"Here are a few audacious books you won’t find in the adult section of the library. A Holocaust memoir narrated by Death. A novel written entirely in electronic messages. A historical novel in prose poems. A murder mystery in screenplay format. A 550-page novel in pictures and words that may or may not have been written by an automaton... Young adults are willing to accompany an author just about anywhere -- to a dystopian future or the ancient past -- but they will not tolerate anything extraneous or self indulgent."
Yes, these things are located in the Children's or YA sections of our bookstores and libraries, but am I ashamed that these are the sections where I spend 90% of my time?
Mr. Stein, you say you do not know if the Hunger Games delves into problems of identity or self-justification, but let me say, you are missing out. It is so much more. More than a dystopic love story written for hormonal teens, but a commentary on society and where we are heading. (An interesting take on the Hunger Games, by Mr. Hank Green, brother to author John Green, can be found here.)
Feel free to stay up on your high horse with your "3,000 years of fiction written for adults," because then my lowly and embarrassing self who lives down here in YA land won't have to deal with you.