The emerging genre titled, Young Adult, has generated a huge following over the recent years. Unfortunately, they have received an almost equal amount of scorn. Detractors from the YA genre often poke fun at adults who read books written for teenagers, which may be the only legitimate claim they have.
There is nothing wrong with teens reading YA books because they are the targeted audience. Specifically the age group is anywhere between 12 and 18. Readers at these ages, on average, are not really ready for the difficult prose that you would find in something like Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Space Chronicles.
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Critics point out the “weak writing” and that “there are some YA books that might have a negative effect on certain teenage readers.” This certainly cannot be true considering that books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Flies and the much beloved Goosebumps series exist in the YA genre. It is important to note here that not all YA books are created equal.
YA Books like Twilight and Divergent are not really considered literary works because they are “transparently trashy” to quote Ruth Graham from Slate. Especially when we think of books like Fifty Shades of Grey which is widely held as “perhaps the most successful anti-feminist movie ever made,” we have to consider the potential bad effects of bad books.
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It is not fair to point to these books in a way that condemns all books in their genre. The most important thing to remember is that we want as many people reading as possible. Not every kid is going to want to sit down with an old dusty copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and tangle themselves with German existential angst. But when you can offer them something popular, that their friends are talking about, and that is being recreated into a movie, the incentive to read is much higher.
When criticizing the YA genre, we have to keep in mind that people who decide to read those books, no matter what their age, are still readers. Reading itself is important because it stimulates the mind, triggers imagination, and forces the reader to face interesting moral quandaries. Even if they only listen to the audio book, they are better off than sitting in front of a T.V. watching celebrities dance. So no matter how old you are, if you are interested in picking up the cheesy twilight series, don’t worry about what anybody says, just do it.
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