Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is young adult literature worthy of your time?

Absolutely. But you may have to kiss a few frogs to get there. Of course that's true in adult literature too-- there is some serious crap out there in all of the genres.

Since this blog has essentially become a conversation between my friend and me, I'm writing my response to her blog (and our conversations via Skype) here. Not throwing down a gauntlet or arguing-- (maybe a little) but I honestly don't understand where she's coming from. Is it a snobby kind of thing?

But maybe you're just not a fan of the whole genre. I'm not a fan of romance. I admit I would literally die, stop breathing, if my book were somehow labeled as a romance. I don't think it's bad for anyone else, but if you're writing romance, you're probably a fan of the genre. So, it's all good.

My friend and I are at opposite ends of the poles here. I love the YA genre-- I love the readers. Looking at book sales and internet presence, they're more passionate than adult readers as a whole. They're more forgiving readers as a whole. And, while I do think they've given some crap too much of their time, they do give credence to the good stuff too. The cerebral as well as the solely entertaining stuff. If reading is an escape, YA is a wonderful door for that. Too many adult novels are too "real" for me. I want to escape "real," darn it. Occasionally one will be so lovely that it works anyway-- Wally Lamb, Steinbeck (though I only like some of his work), Amy Tan, Stephen King.

Is it because it's a fairly new genre? Used to be you had children's literature (maybe up to grade 8) and adult literature (everything else). I do remember a "teen" genre for a while there. I think they switched to young adult to include the early twenties.

But Tolkien is in the YA section in the bookstores; Lewis is too. Arguably some very tough literature, heavy prose. So... if the prose is high, the world created is complicated-- is it because it's so "pure" that it's in YA? Of course that's crap because there are lots relegated to adult that are devoid of sex or offensive language and tons of YA that are the opposite. Is it the subject matter that places it there? I'm asking because I don't know.

Also, how do you define YA? This is something I don't think has been articulated yet. I'm sure there are those that believe the audience is maybe 12-19. Anything out of the teens isn't the target audience. I've always believed it goes into the twenties. I can't remember where I saw that definition, but I guess it stuck.

And I have no nice, neat conclusion. Because it's a conversation that is ongoing and widespread, and I just don't have a final say.

Except where I myself am concerned-- to which I say I'd be honored to be next to Tolkien.


  1. "Is it a snobby kind of thing?"

    I used to have this up on my Twitter description: "If it's a question of me being snobby and me being something else, it's snob. Every time."

    I'll respond to this soon... I need to articulate it better.

  2. I'm a big fan of YA literature myself, though I agree there is a lot of crap out there too. But I'm the same way about books, I want to escape from the real world, not be bogged down in crap that I have in my own life already.

    But there is definitely a certain stigma to it. That if you're past a certain age, it's not necessarily appropriate to still enjoy it. Whatever, man. I still enjoy it.

  3. One thing I didn't say in my post, which I'll put up soon, was that 18-25 is definitely not YA. I'm not sure where you heard that. I guess I can't say "definitely" haha. But I have literally never heard that. And you said Lev Grossman would be YA? He was just telling the BBC in a recent interview (he and Erin Morgenstern) that they were trying to decide whether to shelf him in adult fiction or fantasy/sci-fi. Nothing about YA. It's just not YA at all.

  4. Did you search The Magicians though? He might have other ideas about it, but when I searched his books, several sites came up naming it as "new YA literature." It's very subjective.

  5. You mean "new adult"? It's definitely new adult. Sometimes people say new adult / YA. They are the same to some people.

  6. No, I mean, when it was coming out-- it was under the just arriving "new" literature in young adult.


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