What’s So Great About YA?

Posted by on May 5, 2013 | 4 comments

In the last five years, 99% of the books I’ve read have been YA. Unsure that this was a good thing, I took a mini-hiatus to explore adult fiction again—Gone Girl and a few other titles.

The result? I’ve returned to YA with even more love than before.

On the surface, YA usually has shorter word counts, faster pacing, less filler (Gone Girl, I loved you, but you did take a while to get going). But what really makes people fall in love with YA?

 

Emotion

864759Maybe I still have the mindset of a seventeen year old, but given that as many adults love YA as teens do, I’m not sure it’s that simple. So why is reading about teenage characters so satisfying?

The emotion. Being a teen is an emotional roller coaster.

Ironically, for this very reason, I didn’t much enjoy being a teen. When I fell out with my best friend, it was the end of the world. When I got new school shoes, I was on tenterhooks until my classmates confirmed my purchase was cool. When my parents argued, I was terrified they’d get a divorce.

And when a boy looked my way…well, I don’t even have the words. It’s this reason most of all that makes me love YA. Because what could be more exciting than…

 

Where She Went, Gayle Forman

First Love

There is nothing like First Love.

Your first love might not be with the person you spend the rest of your life with (a fact on which real life and YA fiction sometimes differ), but, *sigh*, you’ll always remember it.

The first time you kiss someone and really mean it. The first time you feel so close to someone you want to meld into one being. The agony when it comes to an end.

There’s a reason young love is so revered and why so many YA authors strive to re-create it on the page. Who doesn’t want to re-live those tortured, delicious emotions?

And finally…

 

‘Adult’ Issues Addressed With HopeThe Duff Kody Keplinger

Though YA is primarily for teens, it isn’t dumbed down. I can’t think of many issues that haven’t been covered by YA fiction. Violence? The Hunger Games. Terminal illness? The Fault in Our Stars. War? Monsters of Men. Sex? The Duff. Teen parenthood? Boys Don’t Cry. I could go on.

I love the way these issues are handled in YA books. There are always exceptions, and I know there are those who disagree with me, but I think YA fiction is incredibly good at getting to the heart of serious issues without going over the top and traumatising its readers.

Because in the end, these books leave you with hope. Even a book like The Fault in Our Stars—which has very far from a conventional happy ending—left me with an odd feeling of hope. I’ve read plenty of adult books that left me bleak or disturbed—and well done to the authors, as that’s how they intended me to feel—but that doesn’t inspire me. I like gritty, I like realistic, but I also want to get something out of a book that makes me re-evaluate the world around me, and ultimately in a positive way.

If you’re a YA fan too—or even if you’re not, and have a different genre of choice—I’d love to know why in the comments.

 

4 Comments

  1. One of the things I like most about YA is the honesty. Even in the fantasy/sci-fi YA, there is an honesty in which all of those wonderful things you mentioned are portrayed. And I dont find that as much in adult fiction. There’s so much emphasis on other things and being the best your adult self can be that you lose the honesty of feeling how you feel and being okay with it that is so much a part of the YA stories that I love. Maybe that honesty is in adult fiction, but I haven’t found it nearly as often as I do in YA. 🙂

  2. Great point! It’s very true, a big part of YA is the characters figuring out who they are or how they feel about a situation, and the best books explore those feelings so well.

  3. Fantastic post, I completely agree. Sometimes, I think to myself that I should read an adult novel, so I do. Then I remember why I always find my way back to the YA section of the bookshelf! I hope I never grow out of them.

  4. Thanks, Ashleigh! Me too, I can’t imagine ever growing out of YA.

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