In Defense of Young-Adult Books

Some of my favorite books, that so happen to be young-adult.

Some of my favorite books, that so happen to be young-adult.

Usually, I’m scared of my mom reading my posts. But not this time. With this post, I’m scared of my AP Literature teacher stumbling upon it, my elitist literature-loving friends finding it, or, even worse – my future college professors in the English department reading it. Because this post is dedicated to one argument: young-adult books are just as valuable as what many people refer to as “literature,” and on some occasions more valuable than such classics.

Let the screams of outrage begin. I hear them loud and clear. I hear it from my parents (“Thomas, why is there a teenaged girl on the cover of your book?”), from my teachers (“nope, The Hunger Games is not a worthy novel”) and from myself (“I probably should be reading a Pulitzer Prize winner instead of this contemporary romance novel… oh well.”) There’s a pervasive belief in the book community and in the realm of academia that young-adult just doesn’t cut it, that if you’re a talented reader or writer you should progress to adult, literary fiction as quickly as possible. Heck, my friends and family tell me on a weekly basis that I’m too “smart” to want to write YA; I should aim to write the next Great American Novel. I should write “literature.”

Literature is a vague term. I’m often lost in terms of what to consider literature and what not to consider literature. Are books like Memoirs of a Geisha or Freedom works of literature? I’ve even read several debates on whether Pride and Prejudice should be included in the literary canon. Either way, most of the books that people agree should be coined literature usually contain strong themes and wonderful writing. But so do all books, even if they’re supposedly written for young adults. As I touched upon earlier, some young-adult books are subjectively better than works that are commonly called literature.

Here’s the first thing I frequently find with YA. People generalize the genre all the time. Books like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter dominate the YA realm, at least in bookstores. But there are so many shades to it, just like classics – there’s romance, action, fantasy, science-fiction, books that mix two of those, books that mix three, etc. That’s one of the great aspects of YA. There’s so much diversity, so many writers, and a wide breadth of themes. Myriad people immediately judge all young-adult books by what’s featured on the bestselling list, even when some of the best works aren’t all that popular. Some include Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The Truth About Forever, and The Rules of Survival.

Then there’s that magical quality YA/MG writer Hannah Moskowitz hints at in her blog post. Perhaps it’s how character-centered YA books usually are, or how they often give teens the first taste of the harsher aspects of life, like how a peer of mine didn’t know what rape was until reading Laurie Halse Anderon’s Speak. I think it’s different for everyone, but I love YA because oftentimes it’s about coming of age. It’s about characters who start out as naive, depressed, damaged, heartbroken, or just plain hurt… and how they get better. It’s that feeling of absolute resolution and fullness and joy when characters find themselves, that rush of emotion that sends my heart soaring every single time.

But literature has that theme too, right? Of course. Here’s my hypothesis. In life, there are critical periods, or biological time frames when certain things are done best. It’s easiest to learn a second language when you’re in elementary school, it’s most appropriate to have a child when you’re an adult. The best time to come of age is when you’re a young adult. This is when you’re starting to realize that not everything society and your parents have taught you is correct, when you’re dealing with high school drama and other afflictions associated with the teenage time period. This is why YA books pack such a powerful punch, especially in terms of themes related to bildungsroman.

No, I have not analyzed literature at the college level yet (unless you count AP courses.) Perhaps then I will attain a more perfect grasp of the supposedly gargantuan difference between literature literature and young-adult literature. But, I know, no matter what, that I will never stop reading or writing YA. What They Always Tell Us, a story about two brothers’ coming of age in a quiet Alabama town, helped me come to terms with my sexuality and offered characters I could relate to. Forbidden, a tale of two siblings who fall in love in the most beautiful yet heartbreaking of ways, forced me to reconsider my opinion on the controversial opinion of incest. As dramatic as this sounds, I owe the genre my life. Who knows how many other teens feel the same way?


Filed under Books

83 responses to “In Defense of Young-Adult Books

  1. Totally relate! I can feel people judging me when I am reading a YA novel, especially if it features a rather immature looking cover, but I will always maintain that Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy is pure brilliance.

  2. I’m a junior in college and reading The Hunger Games in my Literature and War class. Not everyone is so closed minded to young adult literature. For a while I would be embarrassed to bring YA books to college, to let people on campus see me reading them. Sure I read the classics too but YA is my favorite genre for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I’ve learned to come to terms with my preference for YA in much the same way someone has to come to terms with any other aspect of their life and now I’m not afraid to bring my YA books everywhere and I’m very open to discussing them. I’ve learned that many of my friends and kids on campus, my age and older read YA books. I’ve decided to make ‘literature’, but more specifically Young Adult literature my career and my future regardless of what other people who are unwilling to see or examine the pros of this genre think about my choices in books. I think you make a great point and that everyone should defend something they feel strongly and passionately about. My hope is that one day, we will be able to teach and study young adult literature at the collegiate level and that the genre may be recognized for all the positivity it brings to the young reading community.

    • It’s so wonderful to know that someone else (especially someone older than me but still in college) has similar feelings to mine in terms of YA! It’s great that you were able to overcome the stigma associated with reading the books and I love how you’ve dedicated your life to it. I know at my high school a couple of YA books are taught (ex: the Hunger Games is a recent addition to the 9th grade curriculum) but you’re right that it would be a great idea to incorporate more of it into higher level academia. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Cathal

    Great post- I agree generally with what you’re saying although I think we should be honest when one book is better than the other. The Hunger Games for example is an entertaining book but I would be hard pressed to call it great literature.

    Genre prejudice is entrenched pretty deeply in literature studies. There’s no sci-fi unless you actually doing a sci-fi class. I once saw literary realism described as they only genre that doesn’t realise it’s a genre. So I guess the same goes for YA. It is worth noting that YA has only come into its own relatively recently, maybe in the past ten or fifteen years. Before that the stuff written for young largely was trash.

    One of the great things about modern YA is that it deals with so many issues in a direct manner. This can be a little transparant and tiresome sometimes. I have to confess that I was never a great reader of YA, and I’m certainly not now, but there are a few YA books that were important to me- The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Adain Chambers, and his work generally, and the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman.

    It is possible that you will find your view changing a little when you get older. Speaking from my own experience I feel like I’ve largely outgrown books for younger readers and find them difficult to relate to. But like I said I was never a huge YA reader.Different books are good for you at different stages in your life. Anyway, ignore everyone else and read and write what you like. It’s important to read a broad range of stuff, which you do, judging by this blog. Forbidden sounds interesting, I love me some taboos. Anyway, onwards and upwards!

    • I understand what you’re saying about the Hunger Games not being “great literature” compared to other works. Interestingly enough at my high school its being incorporated into the ninth grade curriculum – I should ask my advanced composition teacher (who also teaches ninth grade) how she teaches it…

      Anyway, interesting point about YA. From what I’ve read and from my admittedly short amount of time reading in comparison to older individuals, I do see that the more recently published YA books (as in 21st century as opposed to 20th century) are of higher standards, unless I’m missing out on some great older YA works.

      I think the transparency can work with many genres. Even in literature sometimes the books try so hard to make a point or establish a theme that it lacks in other areas such as plot development, characterization, etc. There’s no doubt that some YA books share this flaw, but a multitude of others are able to incorporate realistic and relatable characters, interesting stories, strong themes, etc. all at once.

      You’re right about my views changing. When I was a freshman in high school four years ago I didn’t read any nonfiction or adult fiction; now my taste has expanded, though I still have a soft spot in my heart for YA. We’ll see how my taste develops, though at this point I have a feeling that my passion for YA is here to stay, even as I do delve into different genres. I highly recommend Forbidden if you want to try a YA book just for the heck of it – its character development is fabulous and the ending blew my mind. Thank you so much for your insightful comment!

  4. Jen Pace

    young adult novels are awesome! and you’re still in high school? you’re a great writer!

  5. I think the question lies not in what makes something literature, for most books can be counted as such on *some* level, but rather lies in what makes something better than the other.
    I know in my AP Lit course we read All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren and Invisible Man because it’s inlaid with intricate meanings that may or may not have been intended by the author, because the characters are supposedly fully developed, because, in essence, there’s more to work with in terms of writing papers on literary devices and the such.
    And yet, one of my favorite books happens to be Looking for Alaska, YA, coming of age, but not inlaid with extensive vocabulary or perhaps an incredibly complex plot.
    I personally pick my favorite books by the amount that they affect me in my life, and though that may seem biased, it’s choosing a favorite- I’m supposed to be biased. For me, books are better based on reliability, not the “sophistication” of the writing, whatever that may mean.
    Wow. Just realized how long a comment that was! Sorry my writing can be a tid bit wordy. Great post.

    • I agree that certain books are probably chosen to be read in high school and in college because they’re easy to analyze in terms of literary devices, structure, etc. It’s great that you’re reading those types of books and you still love YA, or at least one of your favorite books is a YA novel. For me, too, the books that I love the most are the ones that make me think and the ones that make me feel; my favorites, no matter what their genre, make me do both extremely well.

      Thank you for your detailed comment, I wouldn’t say it’s “wordy” because that has a negative connotation!

  6. Great post! And you have an amazing writing style 🙂 I know what you mean about people not really accepting YA books as literature. Sure books like twilight and vampire diaries, can’t be considered as literature, but there are other really good YA books out there that can be literature, take for instance the Dark Materials Trilogy. I love that series mostly because it is a coming of age book but also because it has so many underlying meanings and themes to it, and you find something new every time you read it. My AS literature teacher and I had a discussion once on whether Harry Potter could become literature one day, and it seems at first glance that it’s not a work of literature, but the more you analyze it, the more it seems like a literary work. And besides, for how many more generations is Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte gonna be considered literature? I really hope that there comes a time when books like The Northern Lights are incorporated in literature because it is a wonderful read 🙂

    • Yeah you’re right, there are many types of books in the YA genre – some of higher quality than others. I read the Dark Materials Trilogy and from what I remember (besides the fact that I loved it) there were a multitude of themes and allusions, especially religious ones. Also I like your point about Shakespeare and Bronte, because when they were first published I doubt that everyone decided that their books were going to be put in the literary canon right away. Who knows, maybe one day Harry Potter could become literature one day! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  7. I read YA books and I’m

    a) an honours graduate in English language and literature
    b) 41
    c) a professional editor and proofreader

    I don’t agree that there were no good YA books up to 15 years ago, however. KM Peyton’s books are great, Diana Wynne Jones was WAY better than JK Rowling, and I’ve just re-read Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” sequence again and got my other half into it. Then there’s Alan Garner … all sorts.

    If a book is good, and has timeless appeal, it will last forever and have value forever.

    And you should never, ever be ashamed of what you read (unless you read and enjoy and believe in vile racist or homophobic texts or something, obviously). Even reading bad stuff has a value – and that was said by Milton in “Areopagitica”, so there!

    • Okay, thanks for supporting YA books published from the past – I’ll have to check out some of the ones you mentioned! I agree that books with timeless appeal will last permanently and will always have value.

      Also, you’re right that reading bad stuff has value too. If I read a book that doesn’t sit well with me, I think that at least I know what not to do now when I write! Thanks for reading and commenting, Liz.

  8. This sums up a great deal of my life very well. As someone who wants to write a bit of YA in the future, I cannot help but feel judged by people who know that I love to read and write, and expect me to be reading more mature novels and, as you said, literature.

    • I empathize with you fully. However, even if we are judged, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re pursuing our passion and reading and writing what we love to read and write!

  9. I can totally relate to this! Why, i never hated a book. I just love evrything i laid my hands and eyes on.

  10. I saw the picture and knew I had to click on this – I honestly love ‘The city of glass’, I find it amazing…You should ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue – My english teacher actually gave me this book.

    • I have read Room by Emma Donoghue, actually! It was such an intense book psychologically and plot-wise, I enjoyed it. It’s cool that your English teacher gave it to you.

  11. michaelthewriterguy

    You touched on the main point people have come to demonize many young adult novels. That is because it has been too generalized. I am a big fan of the Harry Potter and Hunger Game series of novels, but the Twilight series is something that has really poisoned to air around young adult novels. Granted, there are many horribly written adult novels, but I do not consider the genre itself horrible. Literature is something that really cannot be generalized because every piece of writing is unique to itself. Granted they can fit into a genre or style, but the author is what makes work great, not the generalization of the particular category or genre.

    • Yeah, YA is like every other genre in that there are great YA books and there are bad YA books – taste is subjective too, so what may be bad for someone may be the best book in the world for someone else. Like you said every piece of writing is unique and can be interpreted in several ways. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  12. LOVE this post and I totally agree!

  13. Couldn’t agree with you more. For the longest time, I told myself that if I wanted to be an intelligent person, I had to stick to works of “literary merit,” as my English teacher put it. So I forced myself to read the books I was “supposed” to like.

    But then I realized I wasn’t even enjoying reading anymore. It had become a chore. It wasn’t until I got over myself that I finally had the courage to pick up a piece of popular fiction instead of some highbrow “literary” book. Any you know what, I finally got to experience the joy of reading again, and that’s so important to remember.

    You do need balance – not everything I read do I want to be fluff, but at the same time, you don’t need to feel like you have to limit your reading material to only the masterpieces.

    For a long time, I felt like I had to read that stuff just to prove I was smart enough. There was such a stigma in my mind against reading “normal” books. I felt like my identity as a book lover and a writer hinged on my intelligence.

    But now I am convinced that the best way to develop one’s literary tastes and writing voice is to read what you truly like, whatever that is. Any book that you can’t put down, regardless of how “smart” it is, is a good book.

    • You’re right about balance Tyler – it’s sad that the stigma exists, but I suppose everyone, no matter how smart they are, feels the need to distinguish themselves intellectually in some way. Love your point about how any book you can’t put down is a good one. I’m glad you’ve gotten over the stigma and that you’ve fallen in love with reading again!

  14. Yes, yes, and yes. Brilliant post Thomas, and I completely agree with you! I sometimes feel like I will always be judged reading a YA book, because it just doesn’t seem serious, or mature enough. But, as you said, there are just so many hidden gems in the world of YA, and they are what makes YA so unique, and fun to read!

    -Grace 🙂

    • Exactly! I guess it’s worth being judged if that’s what it takes for us to be able to read the books we want to read. YA books also improve our own writing quite a lot – I can discern that from your blog because you read a lot and you’re such a great writer, despite your younger age!

  15. I’m an AP Teacher and I agree.

  16. I completely agree with you! Also this has nothing to do with anything but if you don’t think of me every time you write gargantuan, I have failed in life

  17. Steven

    I recently saw the movie “the perks of being a wallflower” and was so touched that spared no effort in finding the original novel to read. I know it’s corny to say, but I felt so relieved throughout the whole reading process. The importance of being participated in life. Be faithful to your feelings and the person you love. The power of good music and books. I won’t compare it to all the great books I’ve read cause they all inspire me in different aspects. And I guess I’d be happy to tell people that.

    • It may sound corny, but it’s truthful – reading is such a relieving and heart-warming process in itself, no matter which book is being read. And as you said different books inspire different emotions, thoughts, etc. so they’re all valuable in different ways. Thanks for your comment!

  18. Andreas

    Hey, Thomas. Another great post! And, I totally agree with you. There’s nothing wrong with reading YA books, albeit some people might think differently. That it doesn’t suit you or you should read something more challenging… Anyway, I’ll keep reading YA books, regardless of what people think and basically I don’t give a damn. 🙂 Hell, I’d read EVERYTHING as long as it’s interesting. Good luck on your writing!! And I do love The Hunger Games. One of the best books i’ve ever read, indeed. 😀

    • Thanks Andreas, and I love your attitude! It’s great to be able to read different genres and glean different lessons, thoughts, etc. from each one – I hope you are reading a myriad of great books this year!

  19. Amazing post, Thomas! I absolutely agree with you. I love classics and “real” literature as a lot of teachers call it, but I think there’s a different type of talent to be had for authors who write without all the prose of the olden ages and can still manage to touch your heart and deeply make you think. I owe so much of my own growth and learning to YA Novels, so why shouldn’t other teens? It’s a huge market and, granted, much of it is time-pass, but even novels like Harry Potter have taught readers so much about relationships, friendships, courage, trust, and life in general. If a book is meaningful to someone, who is anyone else to judge that they should or should not read it? I hate teachers or adults like that, even though they’re a lot of them, but I know that even when I’m in college or have a job, I’ll probably still be reading YA.

    • You’re right, encouraging people to try various genres is better than just making them stick to one, even if they are classics. Like you said some of the books are time-pass, but so are some works that are held in high regard – one of the best aspects of books is that they’re subjective, as each book is a different one depending on the reader. Thank you for your comment, and I’ll keep you company so that we can both read YA when we’re in college and when we attain jobs!

  20. Really great post Thomas! I wish I could add more, but I think you’ve said it all. 🙂 I hope the stigma will lessen one day.

  21. Any professor who easily dismisses a certain genre as not “real literature” is not worthy of teaching, in my opinion. I was lucky enough to have very open-minded professors in college who saw merit in all kinds of books. I was able to take an entire course on Harry Potter (the professors dressed in robes everyday, but it was a serious course) and for my thesis, I used some young adult fiction, because my topic was autism and most novels about the condition are for children or teenagers. I also had some writing courses and the professors were always very supportive of different genres. As long as you were writing enough and listening to criticism, it didn’t matter if you were writing for or about teenagers. Of course, I know other professors who were less kind, but my suggestion is to avoid those professors, or pretend to listen to them until the semester is over.

    As for the books themselves, people disregard novels for teens in the same way they overlook teenagers. The young-adult author John Green is often criticized by readers because his teenage characters “don’t talk like teenagers” (basically, they are intelligent and clever). I certainly believe that teens have a natural creativity and intelligence that can be lost when they become adults, because many people settle into a more predictable routine as they age. Until people start to appreciate the intelligence of teenagers, they can’t respect the literature designed for them.

    On the other hand, books made for children and teens have seen more popularity in the years since Harry Potter. Adults read Twilight and the Hunger Games just as much as teenagers, it seems.

    • After reading that comment I can’t wait for college! I haven’t read Harry Potter yet but that course sounds spectacular, as well as how you were able to branch out in terms of studying different genres. I suppose everyone has their bias in terms of the books they like and I’ll appreciate all of my professors for what they have to offer, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them on every point.

      Oh, John Green. I see that argument in many reviews as well. I even hopped aboard that train once, then realized that my friends and I actually do have strangely adult-sounding conversations. In the end you’re right that people shouldn’t be immediately judged due to their ages; sure, there are many teens who are immature, but there are some that are more mature than actual adults.

      YA has been expanding in the past few years; it makes me proud. I’m glad that individuals of all ages are reading books not specifically written for their age group!

  22. I’m so glad that you’re speaking out, especially from the more unique lens of a male reader unafraid to pick up novels with a girl on the cover. I knew you existed and that all of this boy book/girl book stuff is societally-driven nonsense.

    As an “adult” of 25 who has taken numerous AP courses in high school and even more college English courses, I can tell you that I still get something out of YA. There’s a sort of honesty to it that’s missing from a lot of literary fiction. Although I do appreciate literary fiction, when I think about it and try to quantify it, it’s pretty dry and the main goal is to showcase the cleverness of the author. In YA, it’s about entertainment and, in the more serious works, the teaching of empathy, the consideration of ethical dilemmas.

    One of the reasons I love reading so much is to get to experience life through the eyes of someone else. When I was younger, it was pure escapism. I hated myself when I was a teen, so I read chick lit novels, so that for at least a couple of hours, I could be strong and sexy and wanted. I only wanted happy endings. Now, though I may be an adult and I’m reading for something else (additional knowledge, a widening of my understanding of different ways of life, sheer entertainment), I still turn to literature for this.

    As you point out, YA tends to be more character-driven, and that’s what I read for: the characters. I don’t know about other so-called adults, but I still don’t feel like one. I don’t have my shit together, and I don’t know when I will. I relate far more to the coming of age stories than to the debauched tales of bored adults having affairs that seem to predominate in YA fiction. Is all YA literary? Surely not. But neither are all adult books. If those who are meant to be instilling a passion for reading in us, like English teachers, do not learn to look past the most popular titles, learn to see that Twilight and The Hunger Games are not representative of all YA novels, they’re doing a disservice to their students and to fiction.

    Keep reading what you want to read! I know I will!

    • There are more guys who are into YA contemporary/romance/etc. than one would think! I suppose some are just not as open about it as I am.

      I agree with your analysis of YA vs. adult literary fiction. While sometimes the two cross – sometimes YA does showcase the cleverness of the author while adult fiction is just for entertainment, it usually is the other way around. Both have their advantages but YA brings strengths that adult fiction can lack.

      Also, I empathize with your point about utilizing YA as escapism. I did so throughout my earlier childhood all the time, though now I’ve evolved out of it, in a way. I think we can all be escapists no matter what we read, and YA offers a great blend of character-driven stories and strong plot and voice.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, I’ll continue reading what I wish too as well! I hope that YA will lose its stigma one day so that many will see the riches the genre has to offer.

  23. Reblogged this on Miriam Joy Writes and commented:
    It’s funny, because I was actually planning to write a post today on YA fiction, and why it’s awesome. And then someone else did it for me, and I have very little I can add.

  24. gabriellelost

    Personally, I feel like… I like YA fiction. But a lot of YA fiction that I do read is just for light-hearted, easy fun – like Sarah Dessen or Deb Caletti. And YA fiction is the way that I got introduced to literature; in elementary school I became obsessed with Harry Potter and devoted my life to it. And I agree, there ARE YA books that are of real emotional merit. Speak is a good example of one. But I think the market in general is saturated with mainly superficial novels (I mean, go into a Barnes and Nobles – you’ll notice that Pretty Little Liars are always the main focus of the YA section) .

    What bothers me, though, is when teens call YA novelists like John Green ~the best writer in the world~. Because I think that it takes away credence from authors like Steinbeck and Hemingway – YA books might make me cry, but they’ve never truly moved me. Not in a way like Les Miserables or East of Eden did. One of my hugest pet peeves is how “brilliant” everyone calls Perks of Being a Wallflower, because to me, it just felt like a lesser version of Catcher in the Rye or The Bell Jar.

    • Hm, I see what you mean. Some YA books are mainly for entertainment – I remember my freshman year English teacher told me that to her reading YA usually felt like flipping through a magazine. She said that it’s amusing while you’re reading it but it doesn’t really stick with you afterward. That’s not always the case, though. As for the market being saturated with superficial novels, I agree, especially in the YA PNR area lately. The Barnes and Noble example applies to the adult section too; I don’t how many times I’ve seen James Patterson books flaunted as opposed to the lesser-known, more literary works.

      I somewhat agree. I feel like a lot of teens are just empathic in general – I know I can be easily excited and declare a book I just finished “the best book in the world” even though it’s probably not. However, I disagree with the fact that it takes away credence from authors like Steinbeck and Hemingway… just because someone says they think John Green is the best author in the world doesn’t mean they disrespect or devalue the works of Steinbeck or Hemingway. (Keep in mind that I’m not a huge Green fan myself.) It’s the same way with liking some literature more than others. I love Charlotte Bronte a whole lot more than Arthur Miller, but just because I think so doesn’t mean Miller is a bad writer or that I’m detracting respect from him. It’s just my opinion; I don’t know how anyone’s mere opinion could take away the authority/meaning/quality/beauty of other works of literature. I’m personally glad that some of my friends adore Perks even if I don’t think it’s all that great – at least they’re reading something as opposed to watching Jersey Shore or doing drugs or joining a gang.

      Anyway… I appreciate your perspective, I think it’s one many people share. I agree that it can be irritating for people to praise a book that seems like a lesser version of another work, but I don’t mind it because it’s not like those people are intentionally implying “I think the Perks of Being a Wallflower is the best book in the world and it is way better than the Catcher in the Rye or the Bell Jar.” Perhaps they just haven’t read those books yet or they really do like Perks for what it is, even if it may not surpass Catcher or the Bell Jar in terms of literary merit. Read and let read.

  25. Have you tried Jackson Pearce’s writing? Her YA books are really good. Also, who is Forbidden by? I sort of want to read it, now that I’ve seen your summary of it.

    • I have not read it yet, I need to though! I’ve heard wonderful things about Sisters Red. Forbidden is by the oh-so talented Tabitha Suzuma – if you read it I hope you love it as much as I do!

  26. Do read ‘Harry Potter’. Don’t bother with ’50 Shades Of Grey’. Do NOT read ‘Twilight’. That is all I can say on this subject. 😀

  27. I agree wholeheartedly with this post. I hate how people write YA off as being immature when I don’t think it is. There are equally adult works that are childish on some level too. I’m a big YA fan and sometimes feel I have to hide which I really don’t want to. There are some YA novels I abhor but most of the books I love are YA like Divergent by Veronica Roth. GIVE IT A CHANCE GUYS 😉

    • Aw, I hope in the future you won’t feel like you have to hide the YA books you read! So many of them are simply splendorous. I love Divergent too, I would recommend it as well. Thanks for your comment!

  28. EXACTLY! (with the whole Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight being used as basis to judge all YA, and everything you said as well). But you know a lot of readers aren’t looking for the themes when they read YA, what they see is romance or teen angst or any other pesky issues. I as a reader try to analyze the themes of the book in my mind and usually I get the message the author is trying to make. It makes me wonder why we cannot read any modern literature in English Class, we are always reading classics. I have nothing against them but you know it’s harder to relate to them, we aren’t from that time period so it becomes harder to relate the characters. I am sure someday in the future, the books we read right now, they’ll all be considered classics, like all the classics we read now (I am referring to books published in 1800’s here) were meant for bored middle class/aristocratic women to read (that’s what my English teacher said anyway).

    • I agree, there are several things readers can obtain from YA, whether it be great characters or deep themes. For me it’s understandable that we read classics because they allow us to transcend time and learn about the past in non-boring ways (for example, reading To Kill a Mockingbird to learn about the South after the Civil War.) You raise an interesting point – I wonder which modern books will be eventually turned into classics some day. Thanks for your thoughts!

  29. Congratulations! You have been nominated for the Liebster Award!
    Your blog is amazing! Keep it up xx

  30. I totally agree with you, in fact, even a reader like me who is chronologically much too old for YA fiction, still enjoys many YA books. As an example I think Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of being a Wallflower,” is arguably one of the finest books in the last 30 years and the movie adaptation is one of, if not the, best film of 2012 IMHO.

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, several of the themes in that story apply to people of various ages and walks of life. The fact that you state its movie adaptation is one of, if not the best film of 2012 makes me much more inclined to check it out. Thank you for your thoughts!

  31. I think, and I’m really not just saying this, that this is the best blog post I’ve read. I completely agree with every word you’ve said. Being a YA book blogger, I genuinely believe the genre deserves a lot more credit. I really owe authors, like John Green, for teaching so much about the world and its inhabitants. Sure, Great Expectations was brilliant, but it was nowhere near as relatable as, say, Looking For Alaska. Each book is written for a reason, whether it be to entertain or to teach, and each book has something you as an individual can get out of it… So why does it matter if it’s labelled ‘young adult’? It doesn’t mean the book is immature and childish, and that the book isn’t worth your reading time because you’re far above its level. For me, if a book is labelled with ‘young adult’, it means reading it will help me grow and evolve as a person just as much (and often more) than any classic could. That’s my input anyway, sorry for such a long comment!

    • I agree with you on all accounts! Every book, no matter what age its protagonist, contains value – and that value can be different for every person. Don’t apologize, I love reading people’s thoughts, especially when they agree with me. (; Thanks for stopping by!

  32. Pingback: Get Writing – Kids for Inspiration | A Writer Inspired

  33. bella

    i guess i’m one of the those few people who hardly read YA books and went on to read adult novels since i was in the 2nd grade. i’ve tried to read YA books when i was in the 2nd grade, but realize how not fun they were (to me, i guess). plots were to easy to follow, character i couldn’t relate to, and to predicting (all coming from an 8 year old kid back then). my parents never influenced me on reading adult novels and it just happens that my brain felt like i needed a challenge. and that challenge was i read “les miserables” in the 2nd grade. you probably have you’re mouths wide open now and in your mind you don’t believe that i did it. but i did, honestly. surprisingly, i understood the story, the horrors of that time, and what the characters were going through. even though i didn’t understand most of the hard words, i got the story and that’s what matter to me back then. i felt proud and it seemed like i understood what my brain could take and still do. i didn’t know how in the world i would understand that novel as well other adult novels. was i born reading complicated books or is it just a freak phenomenon that i have? i’m not totally sure, but all i know is that my brain was wired differently than the rest of the kids in the grade. i know i’m not the only person who feels this and has done this. i never try to be arrogant about reading adult books especially at 8 when it sounds like a little arrogant child trying to show off. but i’m really not. i did recently read some YA novels at now 20 years old and reading them felt weird and feeling like i was reading picture books. don’t mean to offend any of you guys who adore YA novels, but i get why YA books are influenced by many adult people and teenagers. for a long time, i was use to reading adult novels that reading YA books felt alien to me and there were some YA books that are pretty good, but again, that is why i went back to reading adult books again. it’s just to easy for me, i want a challenge, as my brain will keep saying. i’ll try again, if only the YA books look promising and have at least close to reading an adult novel. strangely enough i think reading adult novels has made me a strong and better writer. again i appreciate YA novels, but i just don’t get them.

  34. bella


    “Ender’s Game” and “The Neverending Story” so far has been the only YA or children’s book that were close enough to be adult novels. while they were entertaining the both of them had a lot of adult themes in them and the two boy characters who i could relate to. didn’t felt like i was being dumb down and these two books took old cliches and turning them into something new (or none at all which is even better) and a new breath fresh of air on science fiction and fantasy. love them and i wish more YA books will be like that. kill me now, i’ve only read the 1st harry potter book and i won’t read the rest of them. based on reading some fantasy adult novels i already knew that harry will be the chosen one to kill Voldemort, that one of the twin weasleys will die (many historic novels, fantasy, and some scify books do this), ron and hermonie will get together, the boy draco is just a bully who’ll grow out of it, the use of magic has done many times, and basically had a feeling that many characters will die. all that thought process just from the 1st book. is it weird for me to know that? i guess so, but that’s how my brain works and if figure the puzzles out while i read. which is why when i read adult novels are hard to figure out the puzzles.

    • While I see what you mean and I think it’s great that you’ve read adult novels starting at a young age, I feel that just because a plot can be predicted does not mean a book’s worth is any less. There are certain works of literature with arguably predictable plots (like some of Shakespeare’s works) but that does not mean their quality declines. We can all absorb different things from varying works of literature, which is why I think it’s necessary to keep your mind open, even if you do not choose to read a bunch of YA yourself.

      Also, I added bold spoiler warning to your second comment just in case people haven’t read Harry Potter – I actually didn’t predict some of the things you did, good for you! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  35. Reblogged this on Words That Flow Like Water and commented:
    This is so true. I completely agree.
    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  36. This is such a great post! It’s one of the best posts I’ve ever read.

  37. Interesting post!
    I saw Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief” on a best of list that included Michael Chabon, Jeffery Eugenides, and David Foster Wallace. John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” is also pretty critically acclaimed. So maybe all is not so dark for YA book lovers.
    That being said, I’m primarily a fantasy / sci-fi fan, so I’ll never get much respect from the literati.

    • The Book Thief is one of my favorites, and I agree that it’s garnering praise from many areas. At my university the honors program hosts a book club and it was one of the four we could choose from. But its merit is undeniable irrespective of whether it is featured on a list or not, just like your fantasy/sci-fi. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  38. Pingback: Jacquel Rassenworth’s New Role in “The Beginning of the End” | The Jacquel Rassenworth Blog

  39. Rick

    I agree with you an I am a high school English teacher. YA books help me understand my student and also help me to reflect back on what my life could have been if I were 20 years younger and still gay.

    • Glad you agree with my thoughts, Rick! Yep, YA definitely allows us to gain more empathy and to reflect on our past selves, two things a lot of fiction strives to help us accomplish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s