YA novels get a bad rap. There are certain people who will raise an eyebrow and tilt their chin up like they've just gotten a big whiff of garbage that's been stewing under the August sun when you mention that you like to read young adult novels. Most of these people are adults who are sadly misinformed about the nature of YA, but there are some teens who will avoid it at all costs and only dive into dusty classics* in an attempt to appear more sophisticated.
This is really unfortunate. There might be some hesitant YA readers who blow off the entire genre simply because they read yet another article or blog post talking about how YA is XYZ (x, y, and z all being negative descriptors). And 99% of the time, those wild claims about the young adult genre are just blatantly untrue. Remember Ron Weasley's divination predictions? The ones he plucked out of thin air and tried to pass off as true proclamations? Yeah, that's about as accurate as these "facts" I've heard about YA.
*I don't have anything against classics. Classics are wonderful. But if you only read classics, you run the risk of speaking like Elizabeth Bennet in everyday conversation, and some people might not take that so well. Or should I say, "Certain persons may not be so kind as to accept that sort of evolved speech when speaking to your peers in the modern day."
1. YA novels aren't well written.
YA novels are written in a different style than most adult books, but that doesn't make them poorly written. Are some of them bad? Absolutely. But are all adult books well written? Not by a long shot. I think most of us can agree that while James Patterson sure can tell a good story, he isn't the best writer in the world.
Some of the most beautiful books I've ever read have been YA novels. Let me share a few quotes from those books to further prove my point:
"Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves." - Cress by Marissa Meyer
"I know a thousand different smiles, each with its own nuanced shade of meaning, but I don't know how to reach the few feet away to touch this person next to me. I don't know how to talk to him. Not when it's real." - These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
"'Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,' I say. 'Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.' Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things." - I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
"Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something." - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
"Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you." - We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Shall I go on?
2. YA novels are just about the romance.
First of all, so what if they were? If you like romance, you know where to go. If you don't like romance, avoid them without trashing them. Everyone deserves to like what they like without shame.
Second of all, I beg to differ. Lots of YA novels may be romances or have romantic subplots, but that's not all they are. For example, I can't remember there being a lick of romance in Asylum by Madeleine Roux, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, or Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.
There are lots of options within the YA genre: science-fiction, fantasy, horror, dystopian, mystery, thriller, contemporary, gothic, coming-of-age, magical-realism, paranormal, steampunk, and romance. Etc.
3. YA novels are for lazy readers.
I'm sorry, what? Please explain to me how this is true. Because they're simple? Some are and some aren't. There are still aspects of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare that continue to boggle my mind. Her world building was so complex, I sometimes had to reread certain sections
Maybe it's because they're quick to get through? Again, this isn't always true. Let's take a look at the 800+ page novel that is Winter by Marissa Meyer.
And even if a "lazy reader" did pick up a YA novel, isn't that fantastic? Isn't reading something better than nothing?
4. YA novels aren't really books.
Do YA novels have pages? Are there words on those pages? Are they glued together in a way that you can turn said pages? Do they have covers and spines? Are you able to read them? Are they available at bookstores and libraries? Oh, so they do check all those boxes. Okay then.
5. YA novels are predictable.
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm. Allow me to name a few YA novels containing plot twists that almost made me gasp aloud: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Just to name a few.
Again, some YA novels are predictable, but it's not fair to say all of them are!
6. YA novels don't deal with real world problems.
I'd like to start by saying that just because a problem portrayed in a YA novel doesn't specifically relate to you, it doesn't mean that it won't relate to other readers. Everyone has different issues they have to work out through their teenage years. This might vary based on your family dynamics, culture, demographic, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, age, school, or any other number of things. One of the wonderful parts about books is that there's always something for everyone!
So YA novels absolutely deal with real world problems. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green deals with love, disease, and mortality. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli handles identity, social dynamics at school, and anonymity on the internet. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins tackles corrupt governments, family, manipulation, war, privacy, PTSD, reality TV, freedom of speech, and rebellion.
And maybe a certain issue doesn't seem like a big deal or even "real" to you, but it could be very real for others.
7. YA novels are just for kids.
When a comment like this is clearly meant to be mocking or demeaning, I find this extremely offensive to children and teenagers. We're not "less than" adults, nor are adults "less than" teens. No matter our age, we're equals as human beings, and we all have positive attributes to bring to the table.
Adults have wisdom that teens and kids can't even begin to fathom, because we haven't had those adult experiences yet. We're still learning, and adults can help us along the way.
That being said, teenagers often have revolutionary ideas that older generations don't always take the time to acknowledge as being valid. Just because something is new or presented by a younger person doesn't mean that it's bad.
Children are creative, innocent, and open-minded. They haven't be exposed to all the prejudice and hate that there is in the world. We could all learn something about kindness from four-year-olds.
So when YA novels are portrayed as being "just for kids," it's rude and untrue. YA introduces tough topics in accessible ways and provides unique entertainment that can be just as enjoyable to adults as it is to teens.
Bottom line, nobody should have to defend YA novels in the first place, because you don't see anybody doing that with adult novels. Feeling guilty for loving something is a terrible thing. Just remember for every person who looks down their nose at YA, there are dozens of bloggers who are raving about it from the rooftops.
As always, I want to hear what you think! Do you agree with the points I made? Disagree? Leave a comment! :)