I will never judge someone for what they read. I’ve said this in previous posts but I wanted to reiterate the point. I will judge you if you’re the kind of stuck up literati who slams Terry Pratchett readers and tries to shove Mansfield Park down everyone’s throats but I will never judge someone for their choice in books. It would be nice to think that this view would be shared by many but unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve never seen a more prominent case of this than in the YA world. For those who don’t read it or haven’t heard of it, YA stands for young adult. These are books written for teenagers. However, over the last few years there has been a rise in Adults reading YA and this is why I wanted to discuss the genre today. The main question being is it acceptable for a person well advanced in their years or even a few years outside the age bracket that these books are meant for.
Yes, yes it is.
Don’t worry everyone; I’m not going to leave this argument there. I just wanted to let you know what my stance is. If you’re vehemently opposed to YA books in the hands of adults, you might want to stop reading now.
One of the challenges I set myself this year was to read more classic literature. If you’ve read my review of Heart of Darkness then you’ll know how much this is costing me. Even the books I’ve absolutely loved like Rebecca have been mentally draining. These are books that make you think and test your reasoning and language skills. Whilst they are enjoyable to read they can be testing as well.
After reading a book like this the last thing on my mind is diving straight into another. Pride and Prejudice followed by Sense and Sensibility? No Thank you. Pride and Prejudice followed by the Hunger Games? Now we’re talking!
YA literature isn’t horrifically heavy. The language flows easily and there’s more conversation than description making it read smoothly. This means that you are able to enjoy the story and the characters more. Don’t get me wrong, I like reading descriptive passages in the right books but if you compare the five chapter descriptions of whales in art found in Moby Dick compared to the short and snappy descriptions of the Glade in The Maze Runner, I think I know which one I’d choose.
This is one of the reasons that YA novels make such good films. More attention has to be spent on the characters dialogues and main actions. The intended readers don’t always have the necessary attention span to read five page descriptions of dinner or study the nuances of a particular characters hand movements. They prefer to see quick, bold decisions that will capture, and keep their interests.
This means that sometimes the characters can come across as a little two dimensional, cough, Bella Swan, cough, but the engaging and fast paced plots move the story along at such a pace that it doesn’t always matter. In most films we find the inciting incident (the moment our hero or heroine is set on their path) after 15-20 minutes. In YA Books the inciting incident is usually after 15-20 pages. Katniss volunteers, Thomas enters the glade, Tris becomes divergent and Clary get’s attacked by a demon. There’s no time for characters to warm up and yet they become hugely relatable.
I happily read YA books and I’m not ashamed of that. The simple fact is that reading books like this when I was a teenager led me to read more now. Any dystopian fans will love to read Brave new world or 1984. Any John Green fans will love the works of Nathan Filer or Mark Haddon and any YA books focusing on the old religions coming to life should read Neil Gaimans American Gods. A trusted source of mine summed it up best saying “There is no targeted audience for relatable characters, all-encompassing plots and worlds to get lost in. It’s not patronising but at the same time it doesn’t pull any punches when dealing with the worst and best things in life.” Therefore, don’t try and hide what you’re reading on the tube. If you want to read Throne of Glass or Hush or Chaos Rising then go ahead. I won’t judge. Just because I have Chaucer in my hand it doesn’t mean there’s not a dragon covered book in my bag.