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Saturday, August 16, 2008

In defense of YA Fiction

Here's an interesting perspective on YA Fiction. I'm sure its not an uncommon one really. It's the whole concept of whether or not there should even be YA fiction at all, since it further divides readership, and coddles young adults into never reading more challenging books.

I loved YA when I was a YA and I never stopped loving it. I read a pretty wide variety of books when I was younger, but the YA shelf at Barnes and Noble had a special hold over me. I went through a period when I thought I had to stop liking it, because I was an adult (of sorts) now. I stopped visiting my favorite shelf, but I found myself constantly sneaking glances back in it's direction. I wanted to know if Garth Nix had written anything new, what the latest fantasy books were, if I could find a good science fiction.

Honestly, I think book blogging snapped me back to my senses. I was letting my age stop me from reading a genre I loved. Okay. We're talking about a confirmed life long bookworm, the type who Read Books Much Beyond Her Maturity Level as a child. I read all sorts of thick classics like Wuthering Heights in high school. Asimov was pretty much my favorite writer before I even had a driver's license. And I read Lord of the Rings at like some ridiculously young age (3rd grade maybe?).

Why should I be any different now? Really.

All that to say, I like YA. Yes, it is an arbitrary genre at best. Because book companies need a way to get books into certain audiences, they have to market. Yes, sometimes YA books have simpler language, and they tend to be shorter.

But for teenage bookworms, the fact that there is a whole section of the bookstore dedicated to them is a really good thing. Those who are at a higher reading level are going to still going to pick out more challenging reads in other parts of the bookstore. Teenage readers who struggle more with reading are a lot more likely to be interested in a shorter book that features teenage protagonists than they in thick classics with a lot of vocabulary words.

And if an adult feels "slightly distasteful and pedophilic" when reading YA, then here is my final word to you: getoverit.


Nymeth said...

lol, "slightly distasteful and pedophilic"? Get over it indeed. People can be so silly sometimes. They seem to forget that those labels are, like you said, completely arbitrary and made up, and look at them as real barriers. I doubt any teen who enjoys reading will be stopped from picking up classics or adult books just because so many YA books are available.

Maree said...

I agree, get over it :)
A good read is a good read. If this analysis keeps up, we'll end up talking ourselves out of some great reads, because of some arbitrary marketing.

Andi said...

I haven't read the piece yet, but from the sounds of it it would just tick me off. LOL Get over it indeed.

DesLily said...

I'm 64 and read many YA books... wild guess here but I guess "I got over it" lol

Trish said...

Arbitrary is a good word for the genre. I've been rather annoyed recently when looking for specific books and not knowing which department to find them in (some stores have YA AND teen!!). Great thoughts, Kim.

Kim L said...

nymeth-my thoughts exactly. It is almost funny, if it wasn't a serious article.

maree-right, and if I skipped YA I would miss so many of those good reads!


deslily-I love it. Age should never be a factor!

trish-it does make finding books annoying. Sometimes I think they split them up to make the reader wander around and hopefully buy something they weren't intending on!