Teen Fiction Twitter Is Eating Its Young

IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a case study in toxic internet culture, look no further than the online world of young adult fiction. That might seem surprising: After all, we’re talking about boy wizards and sexy vampires and mawkish coming-of-age tales here, right?

Here’s the short version: In recent years, young adult, or Y.A., fiction has come into its own as a genre, reliably producing a small number of megahits that have turned their authors into millionaires. During that same period, it has begun to grapple with some difficult questions about diversity and representation.

Y.A. fiction, like many other areas of publishing, has a bit of a diversity problem, despite being a liberal-minded industry located in New York City. But while the motivation behind the movement for more diverse voices is commendable, the manifestation of this impulse on social media has been nothing short of cannibalistic. The Twitter community surrounding the genre—one in which authors, editors, agents, adult readers, and reviewers outnumber youthful readers—has become a cesspool of toxicity. “Y.A. Twitter,” as it’s called, is a mess.

“Young adult books are being targeted in intense social media callouts, draggings, and pile-ons—sometimes before anybody’s even read them,” Kat Rosenfield wrote in in 2017. (The call-outs, draggings, and pile-ons almost always involve claims that a book is insensitive in its treatment of some marginalized group.) Y.A. Twitter features frequent over-the-top claims of various people in the community “abusing” one another, with the term often used in a deeply watered-down sense. The specific charges, as Rosenfield showed convincingly, often don’t seem to warrant the blowups they spark—when they make any sense at all. The blowup surrounding a book called , for example—or “the most dangerous, offensive book I have ever read,” according to the blogger who appears to have launched the campaign against it—largely centered around the book’s racist characters saying racist things . Other times, authors are simply presumed to be incapable

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