Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Word Count: 37,116

Today I'd like to write about genres.

Not just any genre, no. I want to focus on the beloved YA.

I'll admit it, I'm young. But I'm in my mid-twenties, so I technically qualify as an adult. This is a great place to be, for me. But I am a HUGE SUCKER for YA books. Twilight? Check. Harry Potter? Check. Just about anything else YA? Check.

Which is backwards, because you know what books I was reading in my YA years? Mercedes Lackey. Piers Anthony. Terry Brooks. Ann McCaffrey. Agatha Christie. Michael Crichton.

So what happened? Did I just stop liking "adult" fiction and revert to my lost childhood of reading?

I don't think so. But--- I don't really know what I think, other than that YA is a really open genre. I think its success in recent years is pulling a lot of writers into it to start, and therefore stories that might otherwise have been "adult" fiction are able to access a broader audience by having a younger MC. Now, to be YA, I was told the major rule is that your protag is a YA. So that's a big difference right there. But other than the age(s) of the MC(s), what other differences are there? Why are a lot of adults so drawn to these stories, too, even though the protag is 17/18, etc.?

I can't puzzle it out. All I know is that YA is a genre I'll buy, and I actually feel sometimes like more adults buy them than actual YAs. But it's not a turn-off for me if a novel is YA, whereas sometimes when I think on some modern-day "adult" fiction, I think: boring.

Perhaps my tastes will change as I mature? Maybe I'm still close enough to my teens that I'm ok with a younger voice telling the story.

Or maybe this comes back to the story transcending all else, including genre. If the main character is compelling and I care about them and am interested in their world, maybe it doesn't matter how old they are.

Just some food for thought. What is YA, to you?


  1. The last few years I've read everything, from picture books to very difficult to plod through classics. I love YA. There is something about that time of life (even though it wasn't the best time in MY life) that is fun to read about. First love, discovering oneself, classroom drama-- YA has it all. It's one of my favorite genres too.

  2. I was reading many of those authors in my youth, as well, though I'd say most fantasy probably skews young anyway (though GRRM is definitely 'adult').

  3. YA is definitely my favorite. There is something exciting about the newness of life experiences during those years.

  4. At the moment I'm reading Eclipse but I'm generally not a YA reader. Big fan of spy thrillers and the like. I've read Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series--is that considered YA?

  5. The motivation to read young adult like ties into the age old search for the fountain of youth. Getting older = getting closer to death. Who wouldn't prefer to exist instead in a world of first love, first adventure, etc. Couple that with an eternal youth as one might find in a vampire or an immortal, and pow, you've got yourself a veritable fountain of youth.

  6. Natalie, Susan, and Renee: Totally. You all have a very good point! Maybe I'm living vicariously through the characters, as it wasn't all that pleasant for me, either. :)

    Bane: Also a good point. I was thinking something along those lines but I didn't know quite how to express it.

    Strange: I'm not quite sure, honestly, as I've never read them. Perhaps someone else can enlighten us? I am a fan of a wide range of genres, which is probably why I have ideas to write in a wide range of genres.

  7. I've read some YA - mostly, the Harry Potter and Twilight series - but, like Deb, I'm not generally a fan. Give me adult horror, fantasy, mystery, suspense, or literary fiction any day!

  8. I'm typically not a fan of YA, but some of it is a lot of fun. I'm still in my 20's (barely hanging on!), but reading the genre makes me feel like I'm reading about my students. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not.

    Another thing I've noticed about YA is it's fast-paced without a lot of flowery language to weigh it down. I'll admit I wasn't really looking for metaphors when reading Twilight, but I don't recall any of them jumping out at me. YA is good when you want a good story though.

  9. It depends on the YA really. As I've gotten older, I've started preferring to read darker material (and more humor) because it's more interesting/exciting than the light and fluffy tales.

    By "light and fluffy" I mean stories where the hero gets to the end without a lot of beating down along the way. So far my all-time favorite YA is the Abhorsen books by Garth Nix (first one is SABRIEL, btw).

  10. I had to laugh, because your list of authors you read when you were younger is very similar to the authors I read when I was that age. But I also read a lot of children's books and YA fantasy then, too - I have never been a fan of realistic YA fiction, but if it was fantasy, I couldn't get my hands on it quickly enough. I've never really differentiated between a middle grade, a YA or an adult book much, so I think I just kept reading the books I liked regardless of how old I was getting.