One thing you may not know about me is that I’m an English major. I read Shakespeare for fun, and I genuinely think that counting the meter of a poem, and using it to come up with a theory about the authors mindset when he wrote it, is a good activity for an afternoon. When I read the Room for Debate series that specifically addresses Young Adult Fiction, I couldn’t resist seeing all they had to say. Only one author had a perspective that I found grating, in which he stated that “The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.”-Stein. As an adult, a relatively young one, but one old enough to vote, and not quite old enough to buy a bottle of wine (7months), that aggravated me.
I read a LOT of YA books, and I do prefer them to contemporary adult novels. For me, it’s not the quality of writing in YA that draws me, because as everyone knows the quality of YA writing can range from superb, to disappointing with an awesome storyline. It’s the story and the characters, and the feeling you get from reading the novel that keep people interested. For instance The Hunger Games isn’t good because it has a strong female protagonist. It’s good because I can relate to the way she thinks about the situation she’s been put in. I can relate to the way the has to rationalize killing other people; and most of all I understand her confusion. Katniss doesn’t get her role, she doesn’t understand love, and she certainly can’t focus on politics.
Those are all things that I can identify with. I also read books like Demi-Monde , The Brides Farewell, Room, and countless others that are not of the YA genre, and find commonalities to those characters. I can read them both from a regular readers standpoint, and from a literary critics standpoint. The fact that this one man dismisses a full genre, with absolutely no knowledge of what he’s dismissing (he states that he hasn’t read any recent YA novels, essentially because they’re beneath him) is ridiculous. It’s not only offensive to adults who enjoy YA, but to the authors of those novels, many of whom are well respected and have books written for both the YA genre and contemporary (often literary) fiction.
I personally would like so send him a copy of Deus ex Machina by Andrew Foster Altschul and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and tell him to compare the satire both novels provide about the falseness and commerciality of a consumerist lifestyle.
The other articles were more appreciative of YA, and the pains that authors have to go through to keep the attention of a generation that’s used to instant gratification. The two that I liked most were “Seeing themselves in Books” and “Social Media has Fed the Fever”. Those two articles were both delightfully insightful, the first having been written by a male author who found his calling (that’s the nerdiest way I can put that) in novels, the second written by a teen book blogger.
If you like YA, go forth and check out the debate in the comments of the articles. I’ll definitely be there.