Feb 10 2014 1:00pm

The YA Roundup: Swearing in YA Fiction

Welcome to The YA Roundup, where we fill you in on movie news, YA gossip, book deals, the latest cover reveals, and the only place to get your YA news fix! Well... maybe not that last one, but here’s a hug.

This week covers Vampire Academy’s box office sales, the controversy over profanity in YA novels, more YA film adaptation news, and more!


Vampire Academy Movie is Out

Vampire Academy movie

The Vampire Academy movie is out, but the release hasn’t been a smooth one. The movie opened this week with a measly $1.4 million dollars in ticket sales on its first night, and $1.5 million on the second one. Its weekend accumulation came in at just a little over $4 million dollars. Not a stellar start, especially when you compare it to other movies released this week—The Lego Movie had a three day accumulation of $58-63 million. And in the same three days, Frozen, which has been out since November 20th, 2013, pulled in $7 million. Even worse, the movie is being plagued by lackluster reviews from critics and fans (its Rotten Tomato rating is at 10%), and fans have been turned away from several theatres after falsely advertised midnight screenings.

Steph went to see it on opening night. Her movie review will be going up soon, but basically, she said it was incredibad in a fun, horrible way.

Other fans seemed to quite enjoy it. Aside from a few big hits though, YA book-to-movie adaptations haven’t been pulling the money in. Vampire Academy is just the latest in a growing string of poor performers. This causes us some distress for the upcoming Divergent movie, though the buzz surrounding that one seems to be higher and more positive, and people are betting that it could be a big seller based on its adult crossover appeal.


Swearing in Young Adults Gets #$@%ing Contentious

When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

With the release this week of When Mr. Dog Bites came a controversy of mediocre proportions over the use of swear words in a novel about a boy with Tourette Syndrome, whose tic is swearing. Martin Chilton took issue with the novel because, “It is not as though publishers, Bloomsbury, are unaware of the novel’s content, which they have issued simultaneously on their YA and adult list [...] because they are using the swearing to publicise the book.”

I feel like this argument unfairly discriminates against people who would like a book for its profanity-laden content. People like me. And as a teenager, this book would have been my thing. But still, we must protect the children at all costs from the bad words!

Brian Conoghan responded to Chilton’s claims through an email with Publishers Weekly:

“I always believed during the writing process and even today that every curse and/or objectionable word used was not written gratuitously. Everything was well measured to fit the honesty and accuracy of the characters.”


J. K. Rowling is Living Up to Her First Two Initials

J. K. Rowling caused an uproar, the likes that I would like to see for climate change, last week when quotes were released where she confessed she wished she hadn’t paired Hermione and Ron together. The internet quickly exploded like this:

Those of us who agreed with Rowling that Hermione and Ron would need marriage counseling were promptly rounded up and burned in an all-consuming hatefire.

In the full interview with Emma Watson, Rowling admitted that there were a lot of aspects about Harry and Hermione that would possibly have made more sense as a relationship.

“In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steve] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.”

And she also had this to say about Hermione and Ron:

“Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They’ll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.”

Rowling, Rowling, Rowling! You never seem to tire of breaking hearts!


Movie News

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

I hadn’t even heard of The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson or that it was being adapted for the big screen. However, with the news this week that Octavia Spencer and Danny Glover are joining Kathy Bates and Glenn Close on the cast, this movie that I hadn’t even heard about has now skyrocketed to a highly anticipated release for me. The synopsis seems pretty awesome as well.

Watch out world! The Great Gilly Hopkins is looking for a home. She’s a foster kid who’s been angry, lonely, and hurting for so long that’s she’s always ready for a fight. Be on the lookout for her best barracuda smile, the one she saves for well-meaning social workers. Watch out for her most fearful look, a cross between Dracula and Godzilla, used especially to scare shy foster brothers. Don’t be fooled by her “Who, me?” expression, guaranteed to trick foster parents, teachers, and anyone who gets in her way.

It’s Gilly Hopkins vs. the world! And so far, Gilly seems to be winning. But what she doesn’t realize is that every time she wins, she really loses, until she discovers a love as formidable as any enemy she’s ever known.

Stephen Herek, of The Mighty Ducks fame, is directing and shooting starts April 9th.

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1) by Pierce Brown

YA’s latest hot buzzing title, Red Rising by Pierce Brown is joining the other cool kids of the book-to-film crowd with Marc Foster directing. Pierce Brown has written the script, though no word on which studio will be involved. The movie adaptation is getting book bloggers almost as excited as a picture of Pierce Brown does.

The movie seems to promise quite a lot of action and high stakes tension based on the book summary:

The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda...

We Cuddlebuggers eagerly await more news.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin by John Corey Whaley is yet another novel being adapted for the big screen. Summit has purchased the rights and Jamie Linden is doing double duty to write and direct. The book itself doesn’t come out until April from Simon & Schuster. This is John Corey Whaley’s second novel.

More about the book:

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

Sounds like this one is going to be interesting!


YA New York Times Bestsellers (February 16, 2014)

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
3. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs
6. Paper Towns by John Green
7. This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
10. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


Book Deals

Stand-Off by Andrew Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rights: World English
Agent: Michael Bourret (Dystel & Goderich Literary Management)

Stand-Off will focus on Ryan Dean’s senior year, in which he becomes captain of the rugby team.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Press)
Rights: North American
Agent: Taylor Martindale (Full Circle Literary)

In which two teenagers from rival families of traveling performers fall in love despite impossible odds. Publication is set for 2015.

Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Publisher: Delacorte (Random House)
Rights: World
Agent: Carrie Howland at Donadio & Olson

Greek mythology meets MTV’s Teen Mom, a cupid-in-training from Olympus shoots a ballet prodigy with an arrow, realizing too late the other arrow in his pack is useless, causing a tragically one-sided enchantment. It’s scheduled for fall 2015.

SOURCE: Publishers’ Weekly


New Releases

Cress by Marissa Meyer Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen

Alienated (Alienated #1) by Melissa Landers Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine Teen Spirit by Francesca Lia Block

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell Rise of the Arcane Fire (The Secret Order #2) by Kristin Bailey

Scintillate (The Light Key Trilogy #1) by Tracy Clark The Seers (Holders #2) by Julianna Scott Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

The Drowned Forest by Kristopher Reisz


Cover Reveals

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann The Dark World (Dark World #1) by Cara Lynn Shultz

Empire of Shadows (Bhinian Empire #2) by Miriam Forster Hellhole by Gina Damico

The Night Itself (The Name of the Blade #1) by Zoë Marriott Darkness Hidden (The Name of the Blade #2) by Zoë Marriott

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea Kontis

Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols


Kat Kennedy and Stephanie Sinclair are the bloggers behind Cuddlebuggery, the Young Adult book blog dedicated to corrupting the reading community with sinister shenanigans.

1. Athreeren
I don't care about the swearing in When Mr. Dog Bites. What bothers me is that it fosters the idea that Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is only about uncontrolled swearing though it is only a minority of cases. It's never a good thing when a mental disorder is so widely misrepresented.
Chris Meadows
2. Robotech_Master
Sometimes I think the main reason The Catcher in the Rye is so often-read in high school was that the teachers found it easier to get kids to read something with lots of juicy swearing in it.
3. Kat from Cuddlebuggery

I agree that this tic isn't very common. But it does add some nice humour to the book!


Agreed! Books are so much more fun when there's illicit naughty words.
Steph Sinclair
4. stephsinclair
@Robotech_Master, I will never forget how my 11th grade English teacher had us read Invisible Man out loud in class. I remember my entire class feeling odd that we were allowed to say the swear words and my teacher telling us, "They're just words."
5. grilojoe77
Maybe I'm being a prude. I'm not eager to pick up a book if I know it's got a lot of swearing in it. If I hear those words all day, everyday, why would I want to pick up a book with more of the same? I think of books as a break from all that. That said, I don't think books should be censored for language. Authors should keep on writing what they feel is best for their characters. I just know what I want when I sit down with a fiction book, and a lot of swearing isn't it.
Bally Moins
6. ballymoins
I kind of like sweary books, in fact I was especially delighted to see J.K.R get extremely foul-mouthed in The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo's Calling (which are both excellent books, swearing aside). Also new in YA:, and sounds epic -
It is the year 11,012 AD. The world is powered by Luminum, an incredible and exotic particle, generated by the Sun. It is the source of the Link, a universal quantum communications system. The entire human race has one unified government, known as The Alliance. After cataclysmic attacks on all major settlements in the Solar System, most of the human population is dead or missing. As their world collapses, Helia, Adlan and Soren, are flung into a millennia-long conspiracy.
Matthew Watkins
7. oraymw
People generally consider me a prude, because I never use swear words. But I should note that swearing doesn't actually bother me much at all. The only time it does it that sometimes people swear in really stupid ways that don't make any sense, and belies an underdeveloped understanding of language. But some people make really creative use of swearing, and I actually quite enjoy those things. In any case, people have a right to buy the books that they want to buy. It's not like we're protecting these kids from anything. I guarantee they hear more swearing every day at school than would physically possible to print in that book.

RE: Tourettes and swearing. I do agree with Athreeren that I don't want to see Touretts reduced to "the swearing disease." That is how people tend to see it already, and it would have been nice to see it in a different light. People with a swearing tic just aren't that common, so I don't think that many people with Tourettes will connect with this book, and it won't be all that useful in teaching people to cope with knowing someone with Tourettes. Of course, I haven't read the book, and it might deal with things in a really good way, so who knows.

Also, doesn't everyone hate it when you pick up a book from the library, and find that someone has whited out all the swear words? Yuck. Public vandalism for the loss.
Birgit F
8. birgit
When our French teacher heard someone swearing she tried to get them to swear in French.
9. harmonyfb
Speaking as a parent...I don't appreciate the newly-sparkly presence of the F-word in YA titles. Not because I'm afraid of it or because I think it's inappropriate for older teens, but because older teens, by and large, are not the ones reading YA titles.

At the library where I work, it's middle-grade kids and precocious 4th and 5th graders who are mostly the ones browsing and checking out from the YA section (most high-school-age teens are reading from the adult shelves).

My 12 year old reads from the YA section exclusively, and my 8 year old just finished Half-Blood Prince - so, yeah, the prevalence of swearing on that shelf is a concern to me (especially in books where the plot does not seem to require it - sure, gritty realism is fine in novels about drug abuse. But why, pray tell, is the f-word required in light fantasy novels?)

Call me a prude if you wish, but I think there are some curse words that don't belong in books marketed to minors.

There is an entire adult publishing industry where authors are free to swear in the most inventive ways - can we please keep the books being marketed to kids and young teens reasonably dialed back?
Steph Sinclair
10. stephsinclair
@grilojoe77, I don't think I would prefer a book full of profanity either, but as much as I read YA, I don't run into a lot of books that overuse it. Meaning, I may see only one or two swear words in the entire book.

@ballymoins, I keep meaning to get around to J.K.'s other books. One of these days. And thanks for the link to the other release. We usually don't include self pub titles in the roundup because then we'd be here all day!

@oraymw, I completely agree with you about profanity in books. If it is used with a purpose and in the right context, it can add something extra to whatever point the author is trying to get across. I've never picked up a book from the library with the swear words whited out. This is a thing? o_O

I don't know much about Tourettes myself nor have I read the book, but I would hope that those concerns that you mentioned are explained in the book somewhere.

@birgit, Ha! I had a spanish teacher who did that when I was in middle school. Fun times.

@harmonyfb, I understand where you're coming from as a parent. Most YA books are not profane. When Mr. Dog Bites is an outlier when it comes down it. And even still with the books that do have profanity, they usually don't include the stronger words.

For example: Anna Dressed in Blood, I believe, has an age recommendation of 14+ and does contain the stronger words. It's what some authors will call "upper YA" as it may also have more details in regards to sexual encounters. But on the other hand novels that have the recommendation of 12+ tend to have no to very little profanity.

It can be tough to find YA books that a parent feels is age appropriate for their child because the genre is so broad these days and continues to evolve.
Scott Wallace
11. wallyrocket
Personal opinion that I believe is not in line with the prevailing opinions in American society: I base my entertainment purchases based on the quantity and severity of profanity and vulgarity contained in it. I grew up in a culture that pretty much shunned foul language and it still makes me uncomfortable to be around it too much.
I am active duty military and commander over several hundered engineers and construction craftsmen. You can immagine the type of vocabulary I am subjected to in that environment. My senior NCOs try to watch their language durring the meetings that they have with me and for the most part folks are respectful and try to keep the professionalism that I expect from them all, but society and popular entertainment seem to be training folks to not know any other way of speaking. When I ride around in convoys with the Army, I need to keep the headphones on to have situational awareness of everything that is going on, but the conversations go way beyond swearing to absolutly deplorable stories. I have to put earbuds in under my headset to try to drown it out.
Bottom line is while I don't have the choice of the environment that I live and serve in, I do get to choose the entertainment that I read, watch and listen to. I get sample chapters of books on my kindle and can usually tell within the first few pages if I want to give it a go. Some authors are able to tell some really great stories without the swearing and they turn out just fine. I would bet most people don't even miss it.
12. Randomperson
I honestly find it wimpy when a YA author avoids swearing like the plague. I'm not talking about those who are inventive or creative in their use of language. But those who quake in fear at a four letter word. I mean Christ. We want our teens to read an get interested in the classics, but do any of you actually know how vulgar and dirty the classics are? Chaucer has sex jokes, Shakespeare wasn't above a c--- joke, Gulliver's Travels has peeing jokes and the Greek Comedies are laden with fart jokes. That's just the tip of the iceberg. But use the word f uck (yes I said it, I ain't bloody afriad of language) and everybody looses their minds.

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