Oh, YA Mafia. I cannot quit you.
Want to lose the next few hours, or even days, in reading blog posts and comments? That appear to be about one thing yet spirals off into many other conversations? That is about everything from young adult authors to reviewers to critical reviews? With a side twist of who we are on the Internet and how we present ourselves?
Let me introduce you to … the YA Mafia. Hashtag on Twitter: #YAMafia.
Short version: Holly Black posted on the non-existence of the YA Mafia, or “a cabal of writers who give one other blurbs, do events with one another, and like each other’s books. (Am I in it? I have no idea.) They also, apparently, can ruin your career.” Many people weighed in on her points and the YA Mafia, both at Black’s original post and other posts. Luckily for me (and you), YA Highway did a spectacular wrap up of what happened over the following few days, including links and recaps to the conversation that took place on blogs. Warning: this is a lot of reading. Give yourself a few hours. To understand the whole thing — or, at least, to be aware of the many areas this conversation ended up touching on — you do need to read the comments.
What I like about the conversation so far: for the most part, it’s respectful. It’s an interesting conversation about how we act on the Internet, what we say in posts, and what we say in comments. As I read and reread, for example, I noticed that a critical review would be silent about the author yet somehow a negative discussion about the author would take place in the comments. Should comments be read less seriously than the original post?
I also liked that I saw people own what they said, and at times clarified or even apologized for something being said, taken out of context, or mis-remembered. I know!
One of the discussions that came out of YA Mafia is bad reviews. I’ll point out to what Justine Larbalestier posted and agree with her. Long term readers know that, for many reasons, I prefer the term “critical” review (or better yet, critique) instead of “mean,” “bad,” or “negative” because the review in question is usually conducting a critical analysis of the book.
I’ll add one thing, about critical reviews. I enjoy reading them, especially about books I’ve read. I like details and quotes to back up what is being written, because it helps me understand the conclusions the reviewer reaches. Sometimes I agree with the critical review, and sometimes I don’t. Just because I read the review, just because I understand where someone is coming from, doesn’t mean I agree. (Or, just because people read what I’ve said about a book mean that they agree with me). Disagreement with an opinion about a book is as simply that. A honest differing of opinions. No more than that, no less.