One of the great debates in the book industry is whether Young Adult books are good or bad for adult readers. There’s a new wrinkle in the argument. Author Zan Romanoff wrote an article for TheMillions.com claims that YA does not even exist! She argues that YA literature can fit into any genre and usually gets a lot of readers who are not technically young adults.
YA literature is meant for readers between the ages of 12-18. The writing style and general themes focus on teen issues. Typically in books like Twilight, Divergent, and The Fault in Our Stars we see romance, trauma, death, triumph, and serious introspection. But Romanoff argues that, “when you try to define the category, it remains slippery and elusive: difficult to delimit in terms of content.” This may be true, but does that mean YA does not exist?
The only problem with YA is that it is not, as Slate claims, generally considered “serious literature.” The existence debate is mainly supported by research that shows that adults are reading way more YA than expected. One of the biggest factors the research points to is that 80% of YA readers are adults. Therefore, how can we call it YA when most of the readers are adults?
This should not be too surprising considering that Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Flies, which all have a near universal following, are considered YA . Also, the study itself suggests that not all books purchased are necessarily for the purchaser. Many adults buy books for their kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, etc. However, publishers are not convinced.
Recently publishers have announced that they will focus on YA books that attempt to include an older audience. The only oddity with that announcement is that adults are already reading a lot of YA. If adults are already reading YA books, why try and change the publishing process?
One outspoken teen is not happy about this trend towards more adult readers.
We may never really know if the label YA is appropriate for the books it claims as its own. One thing is for sure, reading always trumps not reading. Even if you are reading something way below your age range, there is always something to take away from it. Would you feel guilty about re-reading Dr.seuss? No of course not, so why should you worry about the suggested age group for a book anyway.
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