Hello everyone, and happy Friday! It’s time for another Let’s Talk Bookish after last week’s day off! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Today’s topic is the popularity of YA, a topic suggested by Ruqs @ Many Things (Not Just) Bookish.
At this point in my career as a bookworm, young adult fiction is my life. Ever since I discovered it a few years ago and then proceeded to become obsessed with it thanks to The Hunger Games, I’ve been on a steady diet of the trials and tribulations that come naturally as a fan of YA books. Including but not limited to: insane cliffhangers, my most exciting ships sinking, authors who like to torture their characters, et cetera, et cetera.
But first of all, before we go any further, what is YA? According to Wikipedia:
Young adult fiction (YA) is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years of age. While the genre is targeted to teenagers, approximately half of YA readers are adults. The subject matter and genres of YA correlate with the age and experience of the protagonist. The genres available in YA are expansive and include most of those found in adult fiction. Common themes related to YA include friendship, first love, relationships, and identity. Stories that focus on the specific challenges of youth are sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels.
That about sums it up. In other words, young adult fiction is geared to teenaged readers. Adolescence being what it is, the protagonists in YA (usually aged from 15 to 18) go through times of emotional upheaval, personal coming-of-age, and romantic realizations that generally lead to a climax in which the main character learns more about themselves and ends up all the more emotionally mature for the journey. Most of the YA books I’ve seen are either contemporary romance or fantasy, although dystopian, sci-fi, historical YA all have their own loyal fan bases as well.
I personally enjoy reading YA because for one, I’m similar in age to most of the protagonists of the books in the genre. I enjoy reading about the experiences of teens like me, whether it’s something I can relate to or an experience unique to that one character and the author who wrote them. There are so many YA books out there that talk about real-world problems through the lens of fiction that are so important to not only the reading community, but to society in general. YA authors also have a tendency to place their characters in the most interesting situations. Because the best character development takes place in an arena where almost two dozen bloodthirsty teens are out for your head. Literally.
Of course, YA has its drawbacks as well. Because of how broad the genre is, YA books can get a bit repetitive and generic. To put it another way: YA books can get very trashy. So trashy, to the point that people decided somewhere along the way that young adult books are for angsty teenage girls who don’t recognize true literary merit, and that any adult who reads and dares to enjoy YA should be ashamed of themselves.
Those people probably think that this community that we’ve built around a love for YA is, at the very least, foolish. But what those people don’t realize is how decidedly important (most of) the stories that YA authors tell are. Everyone can sympathize with the fear of change. Everyone knows how it feels to be insecure and unsure of yourself. Everyone knows how it feels like to run into a problem you have to untangle on your own for the first time. And that’s why YA is important. It makes readers feel seen in a way that no other genre can.
In the end, nobody should feel obligated to either read or avoid YA. There are people who just can’t stand YA no matter how many books from the genre they’ve tried, and that’s okay! There are people who’ve grown out of YA and are moving onto other genres, and that’s alright, too! And there are lifelong YA readers who can’t even imagine reading from another genre — that’s completely fine! It’s up to you what you want to read. The only thing that I’m asking — as a lover of YA and books in general — is that you don’t judge any YA book by its target audience. It’s a dark enough world already, and passing up a book that might be life-changing because of its genre is an evil that doesn’t need to be let out into the universe.
Well, this discussion went in a way I wasn’t anticipating, but that’s it for today! 😅 How about you? Why do you think YA is so popular? Do you like to read YA? Or have you moved onto other genres? Chat with me in the comments!