Some Thoughts on the YA Genre

Today I’m taking a break from book reviews so I can post this.  But don’t worry, the daily reviews will continue running regularly on Friday again.

1)     It isn’t only limited to teenagers.

Both tweens and adults read YA fiction as well as teenagers because some of its themes are universal: love, belonging and trust, to name a few.  I mean, how many adults do you see reading Twilight, The Hunger Games or Harry Potter?  A fair few adults read YA fiction because if it is written well, it can be enjoyed on many different levels.

2)    When it’s bad, it’s really bad.  Conversely, when it’s good, it’s really good.

YA fiction, to me at least, can be a genre of extremes.  It is usually really good or really bad, with very few books falling in shades of grey.  Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.  When a YA book is bad, it goes the whole nine yards: poor writing, one dimensional characters, a slow plot, you name it.  But when a YA book is good it has excellent writing, three dimensional characters and an interesting plot.

3)     It has so much romance!

Pretty much every single YA book I’ve read has had romance in it.  But then, it sort of makes sense because teenagers deal with romance in their daily lives.  Romance isn’t by nature bad (far from it), but it can get tiresome, especially when I read a book that focuses heavily on the romance while neglecting characterization, plot and world-building.  Maybe this is just me, though.

4)     It can be life-changing.

Books were no doubt my greatest influence.  They brought me to new, exciting worlds; helped me escape into the skin of a braver character; taught me things I never would have known otherwise and most of all, gave me a more well-rounded view of life.  When I was being bullied for being an above-average student (among other things), I could read Artemis Fowl and feel empowered.  When I was fighting with my weight, I would read Uglies and feel good about myself.  So many books have changed my life that it would take forever to list them all.  Good YA fiction can help teenagers learn more about life, which is why I wish they would cover more of it in school.  It would keep more people engaged than reading and over-analyzing Shakespeare or Chaucer.

5)     It is one of the fastest-growing genres.

There are more YA books than ever out there!  People have finally realized that teens actually, you know, like to read.  The market for YA fiction is growing, as demonstrated by big publishers like Harlequin, Simon & Schuster and many, many more running specialized teen lines.  This, of course, goes along with the general trend of marketing to tweens and teens specifically. But hey, at least teens are finally having a voice in literature that’s not about to go away any time soon.

These are just five things I’ve noticed about the YA genre in general.  What have you noticed about the YA genre?  Is its expansion a good thing?  What are your favourite YA books?

2 comments

  1. dysfunctional literacy

    You are not kidding about Rule #2. There are some talented authors writing YA stuff, but I think a lot of them are writing too many books too quickly. Collins should have taken more time with Carching Fire and Monckingjay (I think a few years from now she’s going to regret rushing those). Neal Shusterman’s Full Tilt and Unwind are great, but a bunch of his other books are mediocre. I think I’ll read Skinned because of your review.

    • Carrie Slager

      I have to agree with you. After The Hunger Game’s success, I think she was pressured to write Catching Fire and Mockingjay very quickly. She’s a good author, but I think she needs to take her time. As for Skinned, I highly recommend it! It’s actually a pretty good book, but just as a warning, Crashed (the second book) suffers from Book Two Disease. It’s still a good book, but it’s not as good as the first.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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