If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard of Twilight and The Hunger Games. Maybe you’ve also heard of Divergent and Beautiful Creatures. Those series all share a common thread—they are all Young Adult book series that hit big and scored big movie deals. In fact, the Twilight franchise was so hugely successful, that film producers have clued in that Young Adult novel series—especially of the romantic persuasion—equal big bucks in the box office.
Fans of YA books tend to be die-hard and film execs realize when they adapt novel series into film, they have a built-in audience. These passionate audiences, to me, are indicative of what makes Young Adult so exciting! Successful YA franchises typically have a high sense of danger and an intense, if not forbidden, romance that draws fans to become invested and in love with the story and characters. (Not to mention the swoon-worthy love interests).
So, what exactly is it?
YA is often treated like a genre in brick and mortar book stores. But it’s really a mistake to call it a genre when “category” is a more accurate term. Within the realm of YA exist many genres: Romance, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery, Dystopian, etc.
The best way to look at YA is realizing that it simply dictates a target audience. That demographic is typically considered ages 12-18, though it’s now well-known that adults also read YA, especially the more popular series. In fact many adults don’t just read it, they prefer it. Adults like me. (Insert cheesy grin).
What makes YA work?
YA works out best when the protagonist is a teenager struggling with issues that teenagers can relate to. It’s also important for the voice to be young, and a commonly referenced mistake would be when the writing seems as if an adult is “talking down” to the reader. We know that teenagers are smart, they are deep, they understand heavy issues, and they appreciate good writing. In fact, the writing should really be on par with adult fiction (vocabulary, sentence structures, mechanics, plot, character, etc.), but the content or themes are geared toward teen dilemmas.
My favorite qualities in a YA book or series tend to revolve around danger, excitement, and passion. I rarely read something that doesn’t have some kind of love story… what can I say? I’m a sap! The great thing about books written from a teenage perspective is that teenagers are so intense, especially 16 or 17 year olds. They’re figuring out who they are. They’re grappling with finding their place in whatever world they’re in. And often, they’re falling in love, and love doesn’t come easy for them. Not to mention the thrill and beauty of first loves. It’s a beautiful thing people!
It’s a well known fact the plenty of adults are still into YA. Why? I can only speculate but I have some ideas. First, we like to feel young. We like to be reminded of our youth and how we felt as teens. For me, some of my most poignant memories are from my mid to late teen years. Remembering that passion ignites emotion for me.
Another possible factor driving adults to YA might have to do with the reader’s comfort levels where romance is concerned. They crave a good love story but they aren’t interested in reading sex scenes. Perhaps it’s an issue of moral boundaries. Or maybe they’re just bashful. I’ve read some YA that contained no sex yet the intimacy between the characters was just as intense as if there had been. But then there are tropes of edgier YA that do contain sex and seriously heavy issues, which simply demonstrates the wide range of work within the YA category.
What do you think?
I’m sure there are many reasons I haven’t thought of for adult readership of YA. If you’re an adult who loves YA, what do love about it? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Upcoming YA Film Adaptations
This year has already seen the adaptations of The Host by Stephenie Meyer and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Here are some more to look forward to…
- Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
- Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- The Maze Runner
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Our Favorite YA
We’ve reviewed a lot of YA here at Gliterary Girl. Check out some of our favorites…
5 – Stars
- ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake
- BEING HENRY DAVID by Cal Armistead
- DEITY (A Covenant Novel) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- DIVERGENT & INSURGENT by Veronica Roth
- INDELIBLE by Dawn Metcalf
- HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover
- HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick
- PRODIGY by Marie Lu
- MOONSET by Scott Tracey
- PRISONER B-3087 by Alan Gratz
- SHATTER ME, DESTROY ME, and UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi
- SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater
4.5 – Star
- BULLY by Penelope Douglas
- ENTANGLED by Nikki Jefford
- GOING UNDER by S. Walden
- THE SWEETEST DARK by Shana Abé
4 – Star
- ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE by Kate Kayrus Quinn
- APOLLYON by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- THE BLESSED by Tonya Hurley
- THE DARK HEROINE (DINNER WITH A VAMPIRE) by Abigail Gibbs
- inDIVISIBLE by Ryan Hunter
- THE MURMORINGS by Carly Anne West
- PERFECTION by J.L. Spelbring
- PODs by Michelle K. Pickett
- THE REGISTRY by Shannon Stoker
- TAKEN by Erin Bowman
- THE TESTING by Joelle Charbonneau
- WHAT WE SAW AT NIGHT by Jacquelyn Mitchard