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They Hurt, They Scar, They Shoot, They Kill

Toxic Characters in Young Adult Fiction

Joni Richards Bodart

Young adults live in a violent culture, so trying to protect them from the world they live in is not only futile but can also be dangerous. No matter their ethnicity, social class, or economic status, teens must know how to survive the perils that may await them. Most teens understand this, and they want books, television shows, and films to reflect the reality of their world—the bad along with the good.

In They Hurt, They Scar, They Shoot, They Kill: Toxic Characters in Young Adult Fiction, Joni Richards Bodart examines works of fiction that feature characters who threaten the psychological and physical well-being of teens and their friends and families. In this companion volume to They Suck, They Bite, They Eat, They Kill, the focus is on individuals who prey on the vulnerable: bullies, manipulators, torturers, sexual predators, and sadists. The novels and stories discussed in this volume feature adult criminals or predators who look for young people to ensnare; school personnel who interact with students in harmful ways; teens who bully others in order to hide their own fears and weaknesses; and parents, siblings, and others who mistreat family members.

Arranged in five sections that cover such topics as bullies, school shootings, and monsters at home, this volume analyzes the most important and well-written series and titles for teens. They Hurt, They Scar, They Shoot, They Kill will help parents, teachers, and other adults understand the value of these titles and the benefits of reading them, so they will be less likely to forbid them to their teens or challenge library collections for carrying them.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 322Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-3081-1 • Hardback • September 2016 • $40.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-3082-8 • eBook • September 2016 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
Joni Richards Bodart is associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. She is the 2010 winner of the Scholastic Library Publishing Award and is the author of The World’s Best Thin Books: What to Read When Your Book Report Is Due Tomorrow (Scarecrow, 2000), Radical Reads: 101 YA Novels on the Edge (Scarecrow, 2002), Radical Reads 2 (Scarecrow, 2010), and They Suck, They Bite, They Eat, They Kill: The Psychological Meaning of Supernatural Monsters in Young Adult Fiction (Scarecrow, 2011).
A companion to Bodart’s They Suck, They Bite, They Eat, They Kill (2012), this volume’s horrors come from the human rather than the supernatural realm. Here, Bodart has compiled a directory to the most diabolical characters in young adult literature, backed by an analysis of why the genre is so attractive to many young people. The book covers 30 novels in depth, with an exhaustive bibliography of additional picks in the back matter. For each of the featured titles, there is an extensive summary accompanied by a dissection of its attractiveness. Each section is dedicated to a particular kind of evil— mass murderers (including school shooters), bullies in real life and online, mean people at school, monsters at home. The most difficult chapter focuses on predators, like kidnappers and rapists. An important distinction in this volume is that the 'toxic' characters are not dealing with mental illness—the author intentionally excluded these titles. Each book’s description is accompanied by information on how and why its author chose to write it. This book serves as an efficient guide to a high-demand genre for readers’ advisors.