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Ratings on Books?

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Mon October 27th, 2008, 3:45 am

I think rating books is a far more difficult thing than rating movies. One can say that a movie contains, for instance, full frontal nudity and graphic sex scenes, but with a book, it really all depends on how the author describes any given scene and on the context as a whole. For instance, I read one novel that had the heroine (Margaret of Anjou) having sex with all manner of people in all manner of places, but the sex itself wasn't described all that explicitly--I've seen recent, mainstream HF with far more graphic details. Nonetheless, I would consider it a raunchy novel, and wouldn't recommend it to those who are offended by such things. But that's hard to quantify with just a one- or two-word rating.

Violence has similar problems. You can say that a novel contains, say, scenes of warfare and rape, but just a few words can make a difference between a scene that's truly stomach-churning and one that doesn't raise an eyebrow. And a lot depends too on what type of violence is depicted, who the victim is, and the reaction the author is trying to provoke from the reader. Again, I don't think this is something that can fit handily on the back of a book above the ISBN code.
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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Mon October 27th, 2008, 9:32 am

I think it should be up to the parents' discretion. All children are individuals and what scares one, doesn't scare another. My daughter got a fear of tornados when she was younger after watching Twister and was convinced we were going to have one and wouldn't watch anything to do with them. But she would sit and quite happily watch The Mummy with the flesh eating beatles, etc. She thought that was great fun! As for books, I think children know when they start reading a book whether it's going to be beyond them or not. I don't ban her from reading any books. She's read Gregory Maguire's Wicked, but apart from that I don't think she'd be interested in any of my other books. She's more into books like Twilight and Daniel Shan's books. She'll most likely change as she gets older.
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Catherine Delors
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Post by Catherine Delors » Mon October 27th, 2008, 10:50 am

As a practical matter, the rating is given by retailers such as Amazon and B&N (in my case YA.) A reader wrote me she was dismayed to discover a capital execution in the first pages of the novel, followed by sex scenes, with themes of incest and rape, further down the line. She thought all of this was inappropriate for YA, and I agree.
I was wondering how to address this issue in a manner that is fair both to the reader and the writer.

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Mon October 27th, 2008, 11:58 am

With YA, I think, it's a little simpler--a publisher can say that a YA book contains "strong adult content" or the like, which ought to be enough to tip off parents or children what they may be getting into.
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Alaric
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Post by Alaric » Mon October 27th, 2008, 12:01 pm

Question is, though ... if a book contains strong adult content why isn't an adult book in the first place?

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Catherine Delors
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Post by Catherine Delors » Mon October 27th, 2008, 12:11 pm

[quote=""Alaric""]Question is, though ... if a book contains strong adult content why isn't an adult book in the first place?[/quote]

Good point, Alaric! My second book begins with an execution scene (guillotine) followed in Chapter 2 by a terrorist attack on a busy street. Dozens of casualties. Then flashback to a torrid (hopefully :) ) sex scene between the cop/protagonist and his married mistress. I am curious to see whether this one will get a kiddie label as well...

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Post by Ash » Mon October 27th, 2008, 1:37 pm

I'd directly go to Amazon and ask why this book was marketed as YA. If it was the publisher's choice, I'd go there as well.

Personally I'd rather not have a YA designation. But to me YA means young adults, aka teens, yet those books are often marketed to much younger. The book I just read is for 9-12 year olds. Thats not YA in my mind.

I do agree with Vanessa that its the parent's choice and responsiblity to decide what books and movies are appropriate for their child. I think its good for parents to know their child and to be available to help said child select a book, and rather than look at how its marketed, look at the reviews. Sadly however, since most parents don't read, they probably won't know to do that.

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Mon October 27th, 2008, 3:05 pm

Yes, you have a point there, Ash, about a lot of parents not reading. I'm sure I've contributed to my daughter's love of reading (even if she does like reading about vampires and such like!!) through my own. And I also usually know when she picks a book from her school library what sort of book it is because I read. She once brought home Jodi Picoult's The Pact which I was a little worried about due to the teenage suicide thing (she's 12, nearly 13), but she never read it, she took it back of her own accord. I was starting to wonder what was going through her head, as the teens is a particularly vulnerable age. I've read it so I did say to her if she wanted to discuss anything about the book with me, she could do. I couldn't ban it as I think, in that case, she would have read it in secret! As it turned out, she never read it.
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Post by Ash » Mon October 27th, 2008, 11:55 pm

That you know of :)

Good for you for not banning a book - my parents never did, even when I read Valley of the Dolls at 12. What was funny was that I kept it hidden under my mattress. My dad walked by one day and said oh btw when you are finished with Valley of the Dolls let me know, I want to read it. Talk about blushing. Whats also funny is that even tho I knew it was a naughty book, much of it went right over my head.

The only time my parents made me stop reading something was for an entirely different reason than most parents - I was reading Grapes of Wrath, probably at 14 or so, and I couldn't stop crying at the dinner table. Dad asked me what I was reading, and when I told him, he said to give him the book and not read it again till I was ready. After a few months I tried it again and it was fine. I didn't realize it would hit me so hard, and bless my dad's heart, he knew me better than I knew myself.

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Tue October 28th, 2008, 12:05 am

Catherine, when was your book listed as YA? I never saw it that way, but rather as Adult Trade. Your paperback is not listed as a YA book. Did this happen recently or was it something that happened before that your publisher then adjusted? They put up those listings, not the retailers; everything we see on a book's descriptive content was uploaded by the person at the publishing house in charge of online cataloging. I know because I had to work with them to get my Search Inside function fixed, and while we were working on it they asked me if I wanted anything else on the book's content page changed / adjusted.

Also, I uploaded all the information for Secret Lion myself; and there's a specific area for designating whether the book is adult fiction or non-fiction, YA, mystery, thriller, romance, etc.
Last edited by cw gortner on Tue October 28th, 2008, 12:10 am, edited 3 times in total.
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