Some books I regret giving away. Some, mostly read for graduate school, I regret losing hours of my life to (like the one book I ever burned)*. And a few I wish I had never read, or had not read until I was much, much older, if then. When you turn a 12-13 year old loose in the adult section, a little supervision might be in order.
I was thirteen or so when I found this one on the shelf in adult fiction, and brought it home. It started off OK, and then got so sexually explicit and brutal that I quit reading. But Lumley is a good author, and the material stuck in my head. I was too young for that sort of stuff. I mean, it is one thing to know that the world is a rough place, and quite another to be introduced to graphic sexual violence and Lumley’s vampires. (They do not sparkle.) As an adult I could probably handle the stuff, although it is very, very not my cup of tea.
This was also the time of the post-nuclear-apocalyptic novels, some of which made Mad Max look rather mild and urbane. I probably didn’t need to be reading those at age 13-14 either. The one about the father who hides his family during the War, then the son decides his dad was wrong and loads everyone into a camper and goes out to see how peaceful and lovely it all is . . . and ends up trying to rescue his sister from the guys in the most recent Mad Max film as well as dealing with sexual sadists, torturers, and other charming souls. I recall a bit too much of that one, too. The YA versions (Z is for Zachariah, one with Merlin and Arthur in the far future in England, a few others) were just quietly depressing or mildly hopeful, not visions of H-ll. I probably could have waited on the Horseclans books as well, but at least those had more action than sadism, and the sex wasn’t graphic.
I don’t blame my parents for not intercepting everything I read and checking it for appropriate content. I was reading lots of fantasy and Golden Age sci-fi, and other stuff, most of which were quite unobjectionable. And the military history I devoured at home, and some of the descriptions of the atomic bombs in Japan were every bit as gory as the fiction, if not more so. But I really think I would have been better off not learning about certain kinds of sexual abuse and sadism until I was older and less impressionable, even if it was in a fictional, sci-fi vampire book.
*It went into a sausage-roast bonfire. I wasn’t the only one to slip in offending tomes, mostly offending because they cost a lot, had nothing we could use for grad school after finishing that particular class, and had lousy writing. We’d all paid for them ourselves, and could not sell them back. Since we didn’t want to keep them and, “There’s no way I’m inflicting this on the Friends of the Library,” they made fantastic sausage-cooking material. The sponsoring organization didn’t seem to mind, as long as we didn’t burn ourselves. That was what flaming marshmallows were for. 😀