Friday, December 23, 2011

Adults and YA Fiction

This post comes to us from Stephanie Campbell, author of Dragon Night, and 2nd place winner in the Euterpe Young Writer's Contest.

Adults and YA Fiction

By Stephanie Campbell

Young adult fiction is one of the biggest genres, and it's read by my more than just the adolescents that it is aimed at. Books like Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Twilight, and the Peter Jackson series are being discussed by more than just the kids that adore them. But why are adults just as immersed, or even more so, in young adult literature? As a twenty-year-old, I still have my foot in the "young adult" door. That's why I've questioned people in my own neighborhood, some unwillingly, (Wink, wink. You know why you are.) to get the reason why adults love YA.

Melissa Helmbrecht says, "I love young adult literature because it has boundaries. Adult books are filled with a lot of sex and violence. A young adult book has to rely on good story telling to get the job done."

"I missed out on a lot of stuff when I was reading books as a younger kid," Lisa Johnson says. "When I was younger, I just caught up with the action stuff and had a good time. It's only later that I really started to follow the parts about family values and the importance of love."

"I read young adult literature because that's where quality writing went," says Nina Montgomery. "I read the books right along with my kids."

Alison says, "I think that for the very reasons you mention adults like to read children’s literature are some of the very reasons I have begun to appreciate classical literature (especially nineteenth century literature) as an adult. So much of the richness of these works was lost on me when I read them when I was younger. Many of the themes are more mature than the themes of children’s literature (i.e. the theme of adultery in Anna Karenina or madness in Jane Eyre), but where there are disgraceful characters in such works, there are also redemptive characters and models of hope in these works. Not every character is one-dimensional, nor are the flaws of characters held up as models, which I find occurs in so much modern fiction today. I still read modern fiction when I don’t want to think as much, but I have really begun to prefer reading the classics for what I think they can offer me."

In conclusion, the reason why adults read young adult fiction are because they don't involve excessive sex and violence, they contain more than just your shallow adventure, and a lot of quality writers are in the YA genre. Well, young adult or not, that's where I prefer to stay too.


Kathy Teel said...

I read the books with my kids, too. But sometimes we're reading entirely different YA! And I've always thought I'd have to dedicate my first book to JK Rowling, who was my gateway into all things YA. Thanks for the post, Stephanie!

Amaleen Ison said...

I love to read YA fiction because it reminds me of the raw emotions I experienced as a teen. And I agree that the writing is often better because character and plot are key.

Arley Cole said...

I totally agree with the idea that YA books can't fall back on the shock value of sex and violence to tell their tales. There was once a subset of books that bridged the gap - they were ostensibly adult novels but were suitable reading for any age since they kept it clean. For those who don't want their psyche bruised, I'd like to see more of that myself.

dustycrabtree said...

Thanks for your post! I love to read YA!!! Maybe it's because I'm only 28 or because I teach 9th graders, but I just feel like that's MY genre. I think YA books can sometimes be more compelling (in the innocent kind of way). Also, I love the underlying themes in all of them. The themes meant for teens still apply to us as adults, though we don't often think about them.