Have you ever heard these words?
“Why Young Adult Literature?”
“YA is juvenile. Aren’t you too old for this shit?”
“You should read more adult novels.”
“I’d never read YA. That shit is mind numbing…”
I usually just roll my eyes and answer with a very sarcastic, “Sure, I suppose that is why you’re first in line to watch the *insert latest YA book to movie adaptation here*.” But these are real questions that all YA readers get asked daily and this is actually what other people think of YA.
And then you enter the academic world and you find yourself being judged and looked down upon by scholars who are appalled by the fact that you have read Divergent or The Hunger Games. Apparently in the academic world reading YA negates your credibility as a scholar. If it is is not Austen, Dickens, Chaucer or Eliot then your argument is invalid…
That aside and on a more serious note, the reality is that majority of people who criticise YA are people who have never read YA. They are people who will never understand the value of YA literature because they are not willing to get over their egos and give the genre a chance.
These are some of the many reasons I love YA literature:
Girl Power biactch!
Let’s face it, before J.K. Rowling the genre of fantasy was dominated by men. However, with the success of the Harry Potter, Rowling open the door for women in YA and ultimately fantasy too. Of course, this does not go to say that there weren’t any female fantasy authors before Rowling, nor does it mean that there weren’t female YA author before. On the contrary, there were many female authors in YA. However, those authors typically wrote YA contemporary or what academics term Lipstick and Nylon fantasy (think Sabrina, Buffy, Charmed-like narratives).
In the last 16 years, YA has become a space in which women seriously dominate, especially in YA fantasy. These are some of my favourite female authors:
Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows
Alwyn Hamilton – Rebel of the Sands
Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles
Trudi Canavan – The Black Magician Trilogy
Amie Kaufman – Illuminae Files, These Broken Stars
Strong female characters:
YA has seriously become a genre in which women kickass. And we’re talking about every kind of woman, not just your Katniss’s or Celaena Sardothiens. We’ve got badass assassins, brainy hackers, strategists, intellects, fangirls, voluptuous ladies. There are female protagonists who are relatable for just about everyone.
It goes without saying that we need more diverse literature. While the there is a lot of room for improvement, the great thing about the YA community is that there are so many authors, bloggers and booktubers who are actively tackling and discussing the issues of diversity within YA literature. Now if only there was more scholarly research… Hmm…
Check out these epic websites/blogs that review, feature and discuss YA literature written by people of colour, as well as YA that features diverse characters:
Diversity in YA and Rich in Color.
This is one that a lot of adults have a major issue with. Many YA novels deal with issues that are taboo or thought inappropriate for young readers. While they have a valid point, this is the reason that many YA publishers have now added trigger warning or “contains mature content” warnings. I personally think that discussing issues of abuse, drugs and sexuality is extremely important for young adult’s development. Often the issues discussed in these novels resonate with experience in the reader’s life. Many of theses issue are that young adults may not be comfortable discussing with other, so they turn to literature for comfort and advice. And YA literature allows for that. That being said authors need to take responsibility for the issues they represent in their novels. For example, romanticising an abusive relationship or advocating that “Fae males” can’t help their possessiveness over their mates is UNHEALTHY and SEXIST. *puts on shades and walks away slowly*
And then finally YA is fun! There is something for everyone.
These are just some of the many reasons why you should give YA a chance. You never know, it might awaken the bibliophile in you!
Why do you love YA?