Recently, I picked up a copy of a book called Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey. I was really excited about it, not going to lie. The premise seemed awesome, and the beginning of the book really just came right at you without any preamble. I really, really wanted to like this book, I did–I bought the hardcover over two other books I really wanted to pick up. Let’s just say it turned into $18 wasted.
Shattered Souls has a cool premise, but it’s basically on the back burner as the main character, Lenzi, struggles over feelings for two boys: her boyfriend Zak and her Protector for a thousand years, Alden. I guess Lindsey was going for that YA cliché love triangle in which the readers see too hot specimens of male knights in shining armor and begin to argue about which one Lenzi should be with.
The answer is NEITHER ONE.
I could not finish this book for this very purpose. I could not read page after page of Lenzi agonizing over her conflicting feelings for two boys who were the two most awful specimens of everything wrong with the male population I had ever read about. Zak, well, he’s an angry drunk, to say the least. In the very BEGINNING of the book, he gets drunk, tries to get it on with Lenzi OVER HER FATHER’S GRAVE, ABANDONS her in a CEMETARY in a BAD PART OF TOWN–all of this taking place ON HER BIRTHDAY. The rest of the book gets progressively worse, if you can believe it.
Alden? Well, besides being a creepy stalker who won’t go away even though Lenzi orders him to SEVERAL TIMES, is just…awful. Just try this quote on for size:
He fidgeted and then ran his hands through his hair. “Okay. Your fear is a turn-on. Protectors are stimulated when their Speakers are afraid. It’s what makes it possible to put you in harm’s way. Otherwise, our instinct to protect you would trump everything and we’d never allow you to do your job…”
Well, that certainly wasn’t what I expected. “Get out! You’re turned on by fear?”
“And by pain to some extent.” He winked and pulled his hand away.
But the worst thing? Lenzi is perfectly okay with this. When she is not being lazy or whining or otherwise annoyingly passive, she is STILL DEBATING which guy is hotter and twisting herself around in ways that are NOT good for her just because her entire existence seems to revolve around one of these hot guys accepting her. She seems like she’s in such a constant state of self loathing that she doesn’t believe she is worthy of HEALTHY love.
And that would have been okay, if it were ever addressed. If it were ever mentioned. If there was ever a speck of feeling throughout the book that THAT IS NOT RIGHT. BUT THERE WASN’T. Instead, the entire book seems to be telling its readers that if your boyfriend is an alcoholic, abusive, dysfunctional, sociopathic and sadistic, well, that’s okay.
IT IS NOT OKAY. ON NO LEVEL IS THAT OKAY.
I’m fully aware that these kinds of relationships happen in real life; that they are a fact that real women struggle with every day. That isn’t right either, of course, but I’m not being harsh to those women. I’m angry at YA literature that tells young girls that kind of relationship is okay when it really, really isn’t. Being a teen is hard enough. For a lot of us, books are supposed to be an escape. We see strong characters and we try to be like them. But if these books–if our little havens–are telling us that these kinds of relationships are okay, what are we supposed to think? Well I’m just going to take a stand right here.
Quite frankly, no matter your age or gender or anything at all, we all deserve happiness and real love. We are all stronger than we think. But when YA books write about relationships and even teen girls in this manner, it almost takes a little bit of that strength away. It makes it seem like somewhere, there is this group of adults–from the writer to the agent to the publisher and everywhere in between–that is telling us that these kind of relationships are okay and even normal when they REALLY ARE NOT. I’m picking on Shattered Souls right now because it was the book I was just reading, but it’s hardly the only book like it. I’m sure you guys can give me at least one example of the book you’ve read that made it seem like some kind of teen behavior–whether it be related to relationships or not–was treated without the care and respect that it deserves, and made out to be okay when it wasn’t. Dear Writers, Agents and Publishers of Teen Literature:
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Believe it or not, this post is a lot calmer than I originally planned it to be. Shattered Souls made–and still makes–me legitimately angry. Let me just say, one more time, a few words for the teens reading these types of books:
Abusive boys are NOT OKAY.
Sadistic boys are NOT OKAY.
Drunk boys are NOT OKAY.
Stalker boys are NOT OKAY.
Sociopathic boys are NOT OKAY.
And you know what?
NO GIRL is dependent on a guy.
NO GIRL needs to have her self-worth determined by a guy.
NO GIRL is weak.
We are all talented, beautiful, smart and strong. Just like you don’t listen to any haters, don’t listen to these books. Make your own choices. Let’s all show these writers, agents and publishers that these kinds of messages in writing are NOT OKAY.
(If you were interested in reading more about the horribleness of Shattered Thoughts, check out blogger Lea’s review over on Goodreads here. Her rant is even more impressive than mine.)