Violence in YA Books

As stated in my previous entry, I’ve been riding the fence on where this novel I’m finishing stands: YA Fantasy or simply Modern Fantasy?

I have a character that cusses. She says, “pardon my French” all the time.

I have adult themes like burgeoning sex drives/emotions, and of course the accompanying communique. I also have adults being adults, but not graphic, or even visual. Simply hinting.

I have violence, but not gratuitous. I’ve come upon my climax and I can’t decide whether I want to go all-out battle or not: a group of (non school) children are pilfering magical items from the school my MC is attending. I feel it’s needed because this group will not stop at anything but violence.

I grew up, in 9th grade and on, reading books like Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm and the like. I read Jurassic Park when I was in 5th grade. Read it another five times before I hit high school. I’m American, so I’ve been so desensitized to violence in media that I don’t think twice about it.

I’ve never written YA except for my first few fanfics, and this is a whole new world.

My dilemma is, I have a teacher (in my book) that clearly has no qualms attacking anyone who poses a threat: he sees adults and children as equals in potential. In fact, he considers youth much more dangerous due to their emotional state, and the state of magic use. Should he resort to violence to protect himself? If so, should he kill? He’s the kind of character that, in the real world, would kill to protect himself, no matter the person’s age.

I have a similar dilemma with sex. American culture says sex is bad and violence good. I think sex is more prevalent in the school setting than violence, though violence happens. Sometimes gratuitous. HP has violence, but not gratuitous, but little sex. Apparently several other popular books have the same weight of violence-to-sex ratio.

I’m going with a violent climax (with no sex involved. Heh). I’m still uncertain about whether the professor should kill. I know, for the sake of the readers liking him, he shouldn’t. But I also know I don’t want to write a safe book. I want to write a realistic book. That’s the point of my writing it.

Anyway, anyone else have any thoughts?




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