Have you ever gotten negative comments because your read young adult fiction? If you’re an adult reading something marketed to teenagers (or even if you’re a teenager yourself), chances are you’ve gotten grief at some point. Your own YA Fiction Examiner has heard it all, and is determined to set things straight. If you know someone who thinks YA fiction is stupid or a waste of time, or if you think that way yourself, read on to discover the truth behind the stereotypes and myths.
Myth # 1
Myth: YA fiction is watered down for a younger audience.
Reality: In his videotaped 2012 creative writing class at Brigham Young University, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson described the difference between middle grade and young adult books. Middle grade readers (roughly ages 9-12) are still being bought books by their parents, so the content has to be appropriate. But by the time they’re teenagers, readers can buy books themselves, so there’s no need to censor things. Many YA books are fairly clean, but others contain strong violence, swearing, sexual content, etc.
YA novels not watered down for a younger audience:
Rats Saw God (Rob Thomas)
Looking for Alaska (John Green)
The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
Myth # 2
Myth: YA fiction is vapid and shallow.
Reality: Due to the abundance of aspiring YA authors, the standards for publishing a YA novel are quite high. Many naysayers cite the Twilight saga as an example of the dumbing down of fiction in general. But even if you abhor sparkly vampire love stories, Twilight is just one story in a sea of thousands.
YA novels that have complex, deep, substantial thematic elements
Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion)
Unwind (Neal Shusterman)
The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Mary E. Pearson)
Myth # 3
Myth: YA fiction is vapid and shallow because teenagers are vapid and shallow.
Reality: This is more of a commentary on teenagers than books. Our society looks down on children and teenagers, often mistaking their lack of life experience for stupidity. But teenagers aren’t stupid, and most of them face far tougher issues than bad acne and breakups.
YA novels that tackle real, substantial teen issues
Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher)
The Fault in our Stars (John Green)
Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson)
Myth # 4
Myth: YA fiction is for teenagers and nobody else.
Reality: Over half of YA novels are bought by adults. Of that half, 37 % are bought by adult readers buying the book for themselves, not for a teenager. YA novels are generally more fast paced than adult novels, making them a logical choice for readers who have TV, cell phones, and lightning fast computers competing for their attention.
YA novels that are also popular with adults:
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
Myth # 5
Myth: YA fiction is a trend that shallow, mindless people love right now but will forget about once something better comes along.
Reality: YA fiction has been around for decades. Even back in the 1970’s, Go Ask Alice was tackling the very real issue of drug abuse among teenagers. If it’s a trend, it’s one that’s here to stay. And good news for those of you who still see YA as shallow and meaningless: If those books are really as bad as you say they are, nobody will remember them in 10 years. But the good ones will still be around, and we’ll have a whole new batch of classics to enjoy.
YA novels that have stood the test of time:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (Judy Blume)
The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
Go Ask Alice (Beatrice Sparks)