Friday, January 17, 2014

Oddly Specific: Technology Girl and Tribal Boy

It wasn't until recently when I reviewed Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (a fantastic book of which you can get for $2.99 on Kindle this month! Don't say I never do nice things for you.) that I noticed an oddly specific situation that has sprung up in YA books. I have since dubbed it Technological-Dependent Girl Falls in With Tribal Boy.

I'm not saying these books are bad. Far from it, all three books I will be using as examples are in my top favorites. Rather, it is just something that I decided to sit back and really think upon.

"I'd better ready by Thinking Pipe, just in case."
 Let's start with Under the Never Sky (did I mention it's a super awesome story at only $2.99 for Kindle this month?

Cool girls never look back at explosions... or.. whatever that stuff is supposed to be.

Aria has grown up in an environmentally-sheltered dome that has circulated air, computers, and all kinds of advanced technology. She even has a communicator implanted so that she can stay in constant communication with all of her friends and the like. Through certain circumstances she is booted out into the harsh real world, etc etc, disguised as a metaphor for growing up. We all know how it goes.

Perry, meanwhile, is literally tribal. We're talking a character who is considering killing his brother so that he can take over as leader of the tribe. He's surrounded by a world of firestorms, cannibals, wolves, and anything else that might decide to kill him at a moment's notice.

Next is Uglies by Scott Westerfield (as of this writing on January 7th it is $1.99 on Kindle, another one I suggest you grab a copy of!)

I refuse to use the latest cover.

 Tally has technology at her fingertips. She has entire computer screens for room walls, hoverboards, nanomachines, and a lot of other things I've forgotten (it's been something close to 8 years since I've read it.)

David has lived at what is basically a campsite his entire life. He knows hunting, logging, and survival among the ruins of what used to be civilization three hundred years ago.

One of many, many, many covers.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis is a little bit of a mesh between the two.

Amy is cryogenically frozen, so she's behind the times in a lot of ways. Granted, she lived in a world technologically advanced enough to allow cryogenetically freezing people.

Elder, meanwhile, has kind of a combination of technology and tribalism. While he is board a starship, and they have made advancements since Amy was first frozen (approximately 100-ish years ago. I can't remember if the story actually says how long.), but there is also a lot of farmland and cattle and a general alien feeling of each other's worlds.

Heck if I wanted to make a guess and throw a wild card into the mix that I haven't read (yet), it would be Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my Reader's Sense tingles at the mention of this book following this theme.

Anyway, got a particular picture in your head? Good. We're going to break it down into two reasons as to why the particular theme of Technology-Dependent Girl Falls in With Tribal Boy exists and is popular (note that I don't specify "Falls in Love" because Uglies is the rare exception.)

1. Technology is Feminine

"What?" You're probably thinking to yourself as you spew coffee at your screen. "How can inanimate objects lean towards a certain gender?"

Well, there are a lot of adjectives you hear with computers: sleek, slim, thin, trendy, sexy, etc (I don't keep up on latest...well...anything). Basically you want this:

To be the technology equivalent of this:

And that's fine, we all like things pleasing to the eye.

But rarely do you hear masculine adjectives being used to describe computers: tough, hardy, durable. With maybe the exception of the word "Powerful." Maybe it's just my opinion, but it seems like we want our technology how we want our women-folk.

2. We Miss Masculinity

In a world where meterosexual and manscaping are real things we have gotten tired of the pretty-boy Edward Cullen/Justin Beiber/One Direction image continuously in our faces, and now yearn for something more masculine. Teenage girls, however, still find anything too masculine as threatening, so they're not likely to be making out with Ron Swanson anytime soon. By having a tribal boy as a fantasy they can imagine a youthful type while still maintaining a masculine personality. (Please just trust me on this, I'd back this up with some links, but I'm probably already on several FBI watchlists for even trying.)

So there we have it, an oddly specific YA story genre that comes down to general appearance and attractiveness. Also, for those of you possibly offended that I would pigeonhole the entireity of our species:

I don't claim accuracy in my rantings, just opinion.