An MPAA-Style Rating For Books?

Recently, I was reprimanded by a reader over the Dreams & Reality series.  The reader insisted that the books should not be listed as “general adult” but “mature.”  I did what anyone else would do and asked “Why?”

It would appear that the violent nature of my books is intended for adults.  The reader’s 17 year old daughter had gotten hold of Elysium Dreams and the reader was just appalled that the 17 year old had read the book.  However, the reader admitted that they had given the book to the 17 year old because it was listed as “general adult.”

If the MPAA was going to give my book a rating, it should be R – for violence, language, suggestive situations, and useless knowledge accumulation, I would agree.  And an R-Rating is for “general adult” when it comes to movies*.  I think sticking a “mature” label on it is a bit much.  Yes, it’s violent, bloody, and gore-filled, but I don’t go into details for shock factor and the violence is necessary (serial killers are usually very violent).  Imagine if my killer from Elysium Dreams had not skinned his victims alive, but instead, had killed them with a pillow.  Does that scream rage?  Does that say I hate women!?  Does that lead you to believe that he is attempting to reclaim his masculinity?

How often do I go into great detail about the killings?  Once or twice with the killer, a few more with the US Marshals trying to track the killer?  How often does Aislinn Cain pick up a guy for a night of good fun?  None. How often do I go into details about the sex lives of the others?  Never.  Do I mention they have sex lives?  Yes, they are supposed to be human, humans do have sex once in a while.  I have a gay character and I talk about his life with his partner, but I’m not describing their sex life… They don’t even look at each other longingly.  Is there swearing?  Yep, sometimes it’s very mild, sometimes it’s prolific, depending on the situation and mood of the character.  Once in a while, someone even drops the “F-Bomb,” but I do have limits.  Do I portray people in a negative light?  Oh hell yes and not just my serial killers, regular people can suck too.  Am I sorry that I portrayed a group of people as inbreed hillbillies?  Not in the least, those types of people do exist.  My next book is set in Detroit… You’re gonna get to see how Aislinn feels about gang members, drug dealers, drug addicts, prostitutes and suburbanites… And not all her opinions are PC.

For the reasons above, I disagree that these books require a “mature” rating.  I have read books with graphic sex put out by major publishers that were classified as “general adult.”  The Friday the 13th movies only brought down an R-rating, they were far more intensely gory for the sake of gore than my books.  Even the dead pedophile stalking the dreams of teenagers and killing them in interesting ways received an R-Rating – including the remake with Jackie Earl Haley.  Why hold books to a higher standard than movies?  If your 17 year old has seen Silence of the Lambs, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or John Wick, they can read one of my books.  (And I haven’t a clue why this entire paragraph has become italicized, but it won’t let me change it!)
*I have no idea why The Walking Dead brings down an MA rating, my guess is because it’s on TV.
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  1. Maria D.

     /  November 21, 2014

    I don’t think your books need a “mature reader” label – general adult means over 18 to begin with. People have a tendency to expect someone else – or everyone else- to be their kid’s parent. If her 17 year old daughter reads even New Adult books she’s going to come across swearing, sex, violence, possibly date rape, all kind of things really. As far as “The Walking Dead” – according to the ratings panel it says”This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program may contain one or more of the following: crude indecent language (L), explicit sexual activity (S), or graphic violence (V)” for an mA program….I suspect her kid watches The Walking Dead because it’s one of the most popular shows in the higher teen demographic!



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