This has been discussed about a million times before, but I wanted to specifically bring it up on my blog because it affects me and I am the most important person ever. What I’m talking about is, of course, whether I should “warn” for certain things when reviewing a book.
I’m talking stuff like heavy cursing, gore, violence, etc– all the stuff that makes movies jump from a G to an R rating, specifically in YA books. I’m an adult and can handle stuff like that, and I also don’t have to worry about what my nonexistent kids are reading. So I tend not to mention anything that would warrant something above a G rating in my reviews, except for that one time because, uh, that was pretty extreme. But that was an adult book, not a YA book, and now I’m wondering if I should say something.
It’s not because I don’t think kids (or “young adults”) couldn’t handle– what would you call it? Extreme situations?– and I think in some instances it’s pretty obvious the book is going to have things in it that would be upsetting (hello). But what about books where you wouldn’t expect an overly descriptive amount of gore? Like in the book I just reviewed today, Blood of Ambrose? I didn’t mention it in the review, but that book has got some scenes of torture in it that are pretty descriptive (and gross), and I found myself today being really uncomfortable that someone might give it to a younger kid without reading it themselves because it’s a King Arthur story, right, and thus mostly harmless, and WOAH, yeah, that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think I’d want my younger-than-15/16-year-old kid reading it (nonexistent though they are).
I think this problem stems from the stereotype that YA books, while not all full of sunshine and fluffy bunnies, tend to stay beneath an R rating. And so when a YA book breaks free of the fluffy bunny stereotype, like Blood of Ambrose, I almost feel like I have to “warn” people about it. Which is DUMB, because I’m be responsible for people’s reading experiences, but at the same time I’ve recommended the freakin’ thing and what if somehow people think I’ve misled them into reading an Arthurian story that they think is tame (because I sort of did review it like it was) and then a dude shows up who was tortured so much he ends up looking like a lump of bloody flesh? Should I have said something about that? I would have liked to know about that myself, because while the violence didn’t deter me from reading, it was pretty gruesome and I wasn’t expecting it. Being forewarned about it might have been nice.
So I guess what I’m TRYING to say (or justify), is that I think I might start adding another line in my reviews, something like “if this book were a movie it’d be rated [whatever] for [violence/uber-angst/angry bunnies]”. I’ve seen it done on another blog before (although I can’t recall where), and I think it might be a good idea. Yes/no?
Although now I feel like I’m capitulating something and I don’t want to be the book police (or someone’s metaphorical parent), but honestly, if it’ll stop me from feeling guilty about “misleading” people with my reviews I’m totally doing it. It’s like I feel I have this weird responsibility to make sure people get all the facts. I don’t know.
Here’s an angry frowny face which sums up my feelings to this post perfectly:
What do you think?