There has been a lot of controversy over the internet in the last few years when it comes to adults reading young adult novels. A 2012 survey done by Publisher’s Weekly stated that 55% of all Young Adult novels were purchased by adults and I’m one of them. Should you care that the books you love are intended for teens?
This argument is something I feel very passionately about. Not only the words, Young Adult and what it truly means, but the fact that some people feel it is wrong for an adult to read something such as the Hunger Games.
Ruth Graham sparked a cyber-war when she posted her article entitled “Against YA” wherein she told adult readers they should be ashamed of reading books intended for children. Her examples and arguments as to why an adult shouldn’t read YA actually have quite a few holes. She only uses ‘real life’ literature as an example, and basically says Romance, Science Fiction, and Fantasy isn’t ‘real’ literature.
This alone is trying to say that what some read are better than others. Literature versus Science Fiction cannot be accurately compared, because the audiences and writing styles are completely different. Does The Hunger Games or Harry Potter make you think? I know they did for me.
Does the YA genre push boundaries? Yes, just like in Literature such as Gone Girl. Here is why I think us as adult women and men should read YA. Not only because we enjoy it, but because the younger generation has more of an open mind than adults do. How many adult books contain diversity and overcoming any kind of oppression? Let’s set aside things like rebellions for a second, a very popular theme. I like knowing I could read a young adult novel and read about a gay couple who are supporting characters, (Perks of Being a Wallflower) more than one skin color, or beauty type. These books push at the boundaries of what our society tells us is normal, and accepted.
Most adult novels are written by authors who are forty or older, and therefore there is less diversity and intersectionality when it comes to race, class, gender, feminism, etc. These YA books make women strong, and most of them don’t need a man. They fight for what is right, and do it for themselves and their family (The Hunger Games, Throne of Glass, Graceling, Alanna) I can’t tell you how refreshing this is to read as a woman.
This doesn’t mean I don’t love to read adult books, or literature. To be honest the only difference I see between some of these Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal books is that Adult contains graphic sex, and Young Adult does not. The Black Jewels Trilogy, John Carter of Mars, The Lord of the Rings…two of these are considered classics, exactly like Jane Austen, Dracula, Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Shakespeare.
Young Adult is a rapidly growing genre that doesn’t only focus on teen interests and we, as adults can continue to learn from these stories, and maybe learn to accept people who are different in ways previous generations have struggled to do. So yes, Young Adult novels are fun, exciting, sometimes cheesy, but they always push at boundaries and make you wonder…what if?