Tuesday, September 27, 2016

7 "Facts" About YA Novels that are as Accurate as Ron Weasley's Divination Predictions

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! :)


Rain said...

Objection! Ron Weasley's divination predictions were more accurate than these statements! ;) Seriously though, they're not books? Who is saying that? I want to show them by bookshelf.
I hate book snobs. If what you read makes you happy, it's good!

The Magic Violinist said...


LOL, you might be right. xD And it'd be impossible to find the comment if I tried, because it was years ago, but it was definitely a troll-ish comment on someone's book blog trashing YA. It doesn't take a rocket science to know that that statement is absurd!

Agreed. Read what you like and let others enjoy their interests, too.

Jesse Porter said...

YA is unique. Youth is also. Much of adult criticism stems from a longing to return to youth, resentment that we are no longer young. For the young have endless possibilities before them, we post-youth do not. Not anymore. Every past experience represents a door through which re-entry is not possible. "Regrets, Ive had a few, but then again too few to mention." Too often I've vainly (in multiple meanings) banged my head on closed doors thay won't ever open, saying, 'If only I could do over.' Wisdom might well be a humble recognition of having no recourse to things undone. Maybe it is the recognition that the future is only x/∞ less than ∞. There is no infinity squared, just as there is no speed-of-light squared, since nothing can excede the speed of light. The total energy of the universe is hardly reduced by the energy one person consumes in a lifetime, so we ought never to regret having lived.

arhuel said...

I'm 63 years old, and YA is my favorite genre to read. My current work-in-progress is YA.
Good literature is good literature. I remember bursting into tears reading The Velveteen Rabbit to my then 5-year-old daughter (who was an accomplished reader on her own). She patted my hand and said, "Don't worry, Mommy. It has a happy ending."

Boquinha said...

#4 - I love that GIF and the sarcastically ranty paragraph supporting it.

#6 - I would add that even if the issues don't apply to you, it's a good thing to learn about the issues others deal with, too. We can learn to have greater understanding and empathy for others and work toward solutions much due to learning from books.

#7 - Hear, hear! You know my opinions on this. I think kids and teens have TONS to offer and adults should treat them as equals, not inferiors.

Great post!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Jesse Porter

Agreed! Some sort of jealousy could be part of it. I think we're all kids on the inside in some way, we've just had to grow up and leave most of that behind. And we've all been teenagers at one point in our lives, so it seems silly to me that some adults can forget that and look down upon them instead of trying to understand them based on their experiences.


That's wonderful! :) Good luck with your YA project!

I agree. Picture books, middle-grade, YA, adult, there's something in every age group based genre that's just absolutely amazing. That's such a cute story about your daughter.

Thanks for stopping by!


I had a little too much fun writing that section. xD

Exactly! And we might end up in a situation where you're friends with somebody who has to deal with that issue. Being able to understand even a little bit from an outside perspective can be a huge deal with something like that.

Yep. We all have to share this earth, we might as well try to learn from each other to make it a better place.

Thanks! :)

Sarah Leeann said...

First, let me say your choice in gifts was hilarious and made me laugh in class. Second, I totally agree. Like the John Green books—when they're simplified into their basic plots, I'll admit they're not so good. But, when you consider his actual words and the way he writes, they're amazing. All the books I've read from him have changed my life or my views in some way, and he found a way to weave his amazing ideas into maybe less interesting (I'm not a big romance fan) stories. It's pretty awesome.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Sarah Leeann

Thank you! I hope you didn't get into too much trouble at school. xD

I can get behind that statement. I've always loved The Fault In Our Stars. He made the characters come to life.