Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kids Don't Lie (or The Teens Have Spoken!)

Tip of the Day: Stop scratching your mosquito bite. It will only make things worse. Really. Stop it!

In May, I ran a promotion at my library: YA May Days (Help the Teen Librarian Review New YA Books!)

I was so impressed with the results! 34 teens participated with a total of 47 reviews! They read such a wide variety of YA fiction and manga, it was great to see.

And can I tell you how interested I was in the way they answered the review questions? From the standpoint of a Librarian AND a writer, in a word:


Here's some results.

Why they picked up the book?
The cover and the inside flap copy was the top reason (18 teens cited this as a reason)

The second reason was bc they liked other books in the series (10)

Then the title (9)

Recommendation from a friend, Genre, and Read something else by the author each got (2).

Browsing, Quick read, School assignment, and Mom got it for me each had (1)

Their favorite thing about the book?
Specific plot points was the runaway top reason (19)

Then liking the characters (8) and enjoying the Complex characters (7)

Humor (5) tied with Pov/Storytelling style (5)

Action and Descriptions each got (3)

Message and Mystery/suspense each got (2)

The pictures got (1)

Their least favorite thing about the book?
OK, the number one reason SHOCKED me. The teens cited specific character flaws either the MC or another character had that they didn't like. For example, one teen didn't like that the MC was a liar. Another didn't like that the dad wasn't portrayed as bad even though he broke up his family. A third didn't like the way the family treated the MC. WOW! These teens really put people to task -- and I like it! There were (14) of these reasons given.

Next was that the book/idea/ending was cliche (7)

A certain plot point (6)

The pacing (either too fast, too slow, or too erratic) (5)

Not enough description (3)

Too much repetition (2)

Too open ended, Too sad, Unrealistic dialog each got (1)

Would the recommend the book to a friend? Only two teens would not recommend the book they read. All the others, no matter what they said about the books, would recommend them to their friends. This is huge, fellow writersm HUGE! Teen word of mouth is huge.

So what can a writer take away from this?

Teens are SMART. They notice things. They want likable/sympathetic characters. They want something NEW and DIFFERENT.

Very interesting.

Guess I better make sure the MC in my MG is less mean for sure after this revision!

What do you think about the teens' results?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Tabitha said...

In a word, WOW! This is worth more than gold! And it just confirms my belief that kids are smart. Teens, pre-teens, grade schoolers, all of them. And that really puts us writers to the task of writing good stuff...cause if it's not good, they're gonna call us on it. :)

Great post.

Rhonda Helms said...

NICE--this is fantastic. I love seeing the reasons why they don't like a book, too!!

DeenaML said...

Tabitha, I totally agree! (And I just peeked at your WILDWOOD review -- I probably won't bother with it due to your so-so review of it :) -- but the cover is beautiful!)

Rhonda, yeah, now I know it's worth the revision of my not-so-likable character!

Emily Marshall said...

Okay, I do like some books with mean characters, as long as they have redeeming qualities. I just have to stick up for them.

Anyway, this is GREAT. Very insightful.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Wow!!! I love that you did this, D. And yes, those teens are shrewd readers. I love that they didn't like that a dad could do something devastating to the family but not be presented as a bad guy. It shows how they view such values.

What great feedback for writers! Thanks for sharing!

DeenaML said...

I think the teens at my lib have higher accountability than the adults. :)

adnauman said...

My 15-year-old daughter would definitely agree with these comments, and guess what? Younger kids would do. I once asked a bunch of 6th-graders why they liked the books they liked, and their comments were extremely similar!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So they'd all RECOMMEND the books to their friends, but only two admitted picking up a book because of a friend's recommendation.

You can lead your horse to water...