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Seven Things to Love About Young Adult Fiction

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Young Adult is one of the most exciting and diverse genres out there today. This is helped helped, of course, by the fact that it’s not really a genre at all, but rather a target audience. It can be sci-fi, literary, fiction, horror, or whatever. It all ends up in the same section at the library. It’s YA. It’s targeted at persons of a certain age range and in my opinion it’s some of the most fun reading out there.

So, it’s time to list seven things that I love about YA.

  1. YA is a great place for amplified emotion. Maybe it’s because the protagonists are young and full of energy, or maybe it’s because emotion needs to be amped up just to penetrate the stereotypical YA reader’s skull. Probably both. The personal interactions in these books are intense. Nobody ever says, “Oh, you’re dating Phillip now? I used to date him, but it totally didn’t work out and I’m fine with that. We can continue to be best friends.” Nope. Not going to happen. That there situation is guaranteed ending in murder, social bludgeoning, angsty rebellion, or expulsion into the cold vacuum of space–depending on the sub-genre. It’s all good, though.
  2. Sometimes a person just needs a break from the gruesome details of Game of Thrones and other “all growed up” fantasy novels. YA cranks the intensity up just as high, but usually lacks all that obscenely violent description. Sometimes it’s nice to have some of that stuff happen off camera instead of having to read through pages and pages of vivid horrific violence. No, you can’t just skim pages to get past that stuff. You have to read it. It’s impossible to look away. But in YA it’s often between the lines.
  3. YA is some of the best storytelling out there. You don’t believe me? I have my issues with The Hunger Games, but that first book was crazy compelling. It had all those twists and turns that keep me coming back and in the end it left me with something to think about. No, I still don’t understand why anyone would think that making kids fight would do anything other than spark rebellion. I don’t care. The YA section of my library is packed with books just as compelling as that one.
  4. YA is absolutely not only for young adults. That’s the great thing about the genre definition. Not only is it a genre defined by target audience rather than content, but it also is not actually limited to that target audience. Can you get your head around that? I sure can’t. Maybe if we have kids fight to the death the answer will become clear.
  5. It’s easy reading… My theory is that the publishing industry is afraid that if it doesn’t do everything to woo this young adult audience, then it might lead to generations of people who just don’t read. So, the YA genre tends to lack huge, dense sections of descriptive text. It lacks the history lessons of Moby Dick or Lord of the Rings. It’s just prose that moves. It’s sooooper easy to read and once you crack it open you’re reading til it’s done.
  6. But it’s not simple. There’s a lot of depth in much of the YA that I’ve read. Chuck Wendig’s Under the Empyrean Sky is as much a statement on our own society as it is a story about a messed up heartland with killer corn and floating cities. The great thing about good YA, though, is that it works on both levels. You don’t need to think of the greater meaning behind all of these stories, but you can.
  7. First person present tense isn’t as bad as you think. Really, it’s not! I don’t know why someone decided that young adults liked first person present tense. I know that the excuse they use is that it’s more immediate or more gripping. I don’t see it. the first time I read it I noticed. I thought it was awful. I almost put the book down. Then I kept reading and I forgot about it. The point of view and tense just melted into the background of the story. I needed me some of that popcorn candy story and nothing was going to get in my way.

Yeah, I know that I’m overgeneralizing some. Some YA is absolute crap. Don’t read that stuff. Read the good stuff. There’s a lot of it. Even if you read insanely fast you’ll never get through it all.

But it’ll be fun trying.

1 thought on “Seven Things to Love About Young Adult Fiction

  1. I agree, there are some amazing YA books, and this “genre” happens to be the one publishing the types of books I like (speculative fiction, dystopia, zombies). It’s a shame there is so much rubbish to wade through though! The amount of YA books with soppy and unnecessary romance plots and love triangles shoved in to fit a perceived formula rather than to add to the story makes me wild.

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