Five Reasons To Read YA Fiction

13/08/2016 Discussions, Lists 33

5 Reasons To Read YA FictionYA fiction, or Young Adult fiction is an incredibly popular genre amongst book bloggers of all ages, but unfortunately it’s commonly regarded with a certain amount of snobbery by a lot of other people (and the odd blogger…but good luck to them making friends in the blogosphere!). Whilst non-readers who see you reading YA often like to tell you that you’re ‘far to be old to be reading that’ if you’re older than sixteen, bookworms who ‘only read real books’ like to lecture you on the formulaic plots and cardboard characters, despite probably never having read any of the books they’re talking about.

But I totally disagree! YA fiction may have a younger intended audience, but I think anyone of any age can find value in it, and it spans such a range of different subgenres that there is literally something for everyone (spoiler alert for one of my points!).

Anyway, rant over! Here’s five reasons why you should be reading YA, whatever your age!

  • YA spans such a range of subgenres that there’s something for everyone.

Yep, I’ve already said this, but allow me to expand! Unlike the genres I’ve previously discussed in my ‘Five Reasons To Read…’ series (historical fiction and fantasy), ‘YA’ refers to the age of the intended audience, as opposed to specific features of the book, and so can include other genres like fantasy and science fiction within it.

I often think that genre fans who are put off by the YA tag are missing out on a lot of great examples of genre fiction, as often the only difference between a YA fantasy and a regular one is the age of the main character (and let’s just say there will probably much less sex and gore than in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire!).

  • Everyone can relate to YA, because everyone can relate to being a teenager.

Most of the time the main characters in YA books are teenagers, and whilst for some of us our own teenage years are far behind us, we can all still remember what being a teen was like. It’s a time when we all go through the biggest changes of our lives, both physically and emotionally, and when our adult selves start to emerge and form, and YA can do a great job of reflecting such a scary, crazy and amazing time in our lives.

In a lot of other books where there are older characters, I find it less likely that I will directly relate to the main character, and whilst often this isn’t a huge problem (I’ll maybe relate to them in some other way), I think it can add to the reading experience if you find yourself thinking ‘I have felt that too’. For example, I can’t relate the same to a character who is a 30-odd year old mother as I could to an eighteen year old because I’m neither in my 30s or a mother, but I have been an eighteen year old, and so can better relate to their feelings and experiences (not that I was exactly a normal eighteen year old…I was too busy reading to get drunk and party!)..

  • It’s a genre that talks about a lot of important issues and topics.

Whilst I think a lot of books discuss important current issues and topics, I don’t think there’s a genre that does so quite as much as YA fiction. As it is aimed at younger people, I think authors often use it as a way of getting these younger people to think and learn about issues and topics as varied as mental health, bullying, rape, discrimination, war, violence, identity, sexuality, diversity and family, and I think we could all stand to learn more about issues likes these.

Examples of issues related books include Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher about bullying (and I’ll actually be doing a post about bullying soon), as well as suicide in the case of Thirteen Reasons and abuse and neglect in the case of Eleanor and Park. There’s books that discuss mental health such as All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, and those that tackle illness and death like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Before I Die by Jenny Downham. There’s also books about rape like Just Listen by Sarah Dessen and Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, being transgender, such as The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, and growing up and finding yourself like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. There is literally a book about everything, and I think we can learn so much from these books, and gain more understanding about the issues and topics at hand.

  • It can teach us a lot about friendship.

A huge component of teenage life is your friends and friendships, and so it’s no wonder that these things feature so prominently in YA books, whether it’s a contemporary, fantasy or science fiction. Unfortunately I think friendship can be something that takes a bit of a backseat as we get older – we’re all busy and have jobs, partners, houses, eventually maybe even children – and so I think sometimes we all need a reminder about the importance of friendship. Not to mention, I love nothing more than seeing a truly heart-warming book friendship! Augustus and Issac from The Fault In Our Stars, for example, or Chaol and Dorian in Throne of Glass, or Jess and Kestrel in The Winner’s Curse.

  • As a genre it tends to have more of an optimistic, feel good vibe to it than a lot of other genres.

Bad things happen in YA just as much as they do in other genres: people get bullied, abused, become ill, are bereaved and face horrific trials and tribulations (Katniss in The Hunger Games, anyone?). But personally (and maybe this is just me!) I also feel like despite the terrible things that often happen, there is more of a sense of hope for the future, and that things will turn out OK than in other genres. And maybe sometimes we want to read something truly dark and terrifying that makes us peer fearfully into the depths of the human soul, but I think most of the time what we want to get from books is that feeling that we’re not alone and that everything is going to be OK, and I think YA is fantastic for doing this.

Recommended Reads: The Throne of Glass series and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, Just Listen and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, pretty much anything written by Rainbow Rowell, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

So do you read YA fiction? What’s your favourite thing about the genre?

33 Responses to “Five Reasons To Read YA Fiction”

  1. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    I read more YA now than I did as a teenager. I think the teenage years are a fascinating life stage. They’re interesting to read about because people change a lot during the years between 12 and 19. Authors can do a lot with their young characters without being unrealistic.

    • Laura

      Teenage years are definitely so fascinating, because I don’t think there’s a time in your life where you change quite as much as you do then. You basically become the person you end up throughout your teenage years, so it’s just such an interesting time!
      And you’re totally right. Authors can do so much with teenage characters and make it seem realistic, because they’re just so much more unpredictable than adults! 🙂

  2. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    Great post! There are SO many good reasons to read YA, and while that’s certainly not ALL that I read, I’m glad that I’ve started to read more of it. I certainly read more of it now than I ever did when I was in the “target” audience!

    • Laura

      To be honest, I think I read more of it now than I did when I was a teenager too! In fact I went through a phase as a teen where I didn’t read much at all, so the way I see it, I’m catching up on all the great books I missed then now! 🙂

  3. Greg

    Nice post. I especially agree about the range, I think some of the best SF is happening in YA right now. there literally is something for everyone, whether you’re a teen or older.

  4. Rosario

    I want to high five you for this post! When I was younger I foolishly decided to distance myself from YA because people dismissed it as not ‘real literature’ I’m super glad I ditched that attitude and got back into it because there really is something for everyone. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I agree there’s definitely a kind of optimism about the future in a lot of YA books.

    • Laura

      To an extent I can kind of see why people want to distance themselves from YA and read more serious literature, but at the same time I think they’re really missing out, and that’s a shame! I’m glad you had a change of heart 🙂

  5. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    Oh man, I definitely agree with this. I’m 25 and I still read almost exclusively YA. I think it’s just…better? Sometimes I can’t fully relate to the characters if they’re too young. Sure, I was a teenager once, but sometimes its hard to get into the mindset again. Either way, I will probably always love YA and will always read it 🙂 Great post!

    • Laura

      I’m glad you still love YA so much! I’m 23 and whilst I read quite a lot of other stuff (mainly just general fantasy), it does make up a huge amount of my reading. I always still think of myself as still a teenager, as opposed to in my twenties though, which is pretty weird, but that’s probably why I can get in the teenage mindset so easily when I’m reading 🙂

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Thank you for this post. I think people can too often write off the YA genre and it’s just wrong. I was actually thinking this when Iw as writing a review for a book I could see had been categorised as YA and I couldn’t help but think a lot of people would write it off for having that label and that’s wrong as it was a complex story that fantasy fans would appreciate.

    I think people get scared by the YA label as they relate it to children’s books in a way. By having a label for ‘young people’ they expect a childish story and don’t want to read when actually YA deals with a whole range of issues and topics that people of any age can appreciate.

    I read a whole range of genres, both within YA and other’age groups’ of books and a lot of my favourite books are YA. I shouldn’t be ashamed of reading YA at 25 but it’s so frustrating that people think I should be.

    • Laura

      A lot of my favourite books are YA too, and I really don’t think we should be ashamed of that fact, just because we’re now in our twenties.
      You’re totally right though that many people are scared off by the YA label because they relate it to children books and don’t want to read anything ‘childish’, but that really is unfounded in my opinion. So many YA books just seem like genre books with younger characters, and have really complex storylines and well developed characters, just like any other genre book! 🙂

  7. Tasya

    Wow those are pretty solid reason! I agree how relateable YA is, we all have been in the position of being a teenager, and dealing with a lot of issues. My favorite thing about YA is how nowadays, they spread awareness of really important issues, like lgbtq+, diversity, feminism, mental illness, and so many other things! It helps the reader (mostly teen) to pay attention to the issues that exists around the real world 🙂

    • Laura

      I love that so much too that YA spreads awareness for all sorts of things! In fact, I think books are one of the main ways teens can be made aware of and learn more about these things and I think that’s really amazing! 🙂

  8. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I’m 42 and I still read mostly YA. I often try to read adult books for awhile and then I eventually end up drifting back toward YA for some reason. I think you may have hit the nail on the head when you say that YA is generally more hopeful – that might be a big part of it. Plus, I think I read for escapism sometimes, and reading about parenting just ends up making me feel exhausted – I already have enough of that in real life! 🙂

    • Laura

      Yeah, I can imagine if you’re a parent and want a bit of reading escapism you probably want to read about teenagers and young adults who have a lot less responsibilities! 🙂
      I always tend yo drift back to YA too, and I think it is just because every so often I need that burst of hopefulness that you get from YA 🙂

  9. Puput @ Sparkling Letters

    I love this post! I totally agree on most of the things you said, especially the one where EVERYONE can relate because everyone has, most likely, had the experience of being a teenager. I think it’s okay for people of older age to read something intended for younger people, the issue is actually when younger people read something intended for someone older. One of my best friend once told me that we’re too old for this kind of book and she suggested we read something more philosophical.. pffft non sense! Read YA, read philosophy, I think it’s ENTIRELY up to the person 😀 also, I second you that YA covers A WIDE RANGE of topics! My current favorite topic is about mental illness and I’m dyingggg to read We Were Liars! Great post and thank u for stopping by Sparkling Letters earlier 🙂

    • Laura

      I’m glad you agree! 🙂
      And I definitely get what you mean – the issue is more younger people reading books that are for older people than people reading books that are ‘too young’ for them. As far as I’m concerned you can’t read a book that’s ‘too young’ for you. As long as you enjoy, you should read it.
      I’m reading We Were Liars at the moment, and so far it has been really good. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  10. DW Davis

    I read YA fiction and I write it as well. My fans range from preteens to octogenarians. YA can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

  11. Geraldine @ Corralling Books

    I totally agree with how YA talks about lots of important issues! I know I recently read My Sister Rosa, and it showed so much diversity, which was super important to me! Plus, it also showed how some women do get harassed a lot. Books that manage to convey such important messages are definitely “must-read” material for me! 🙂
    On a more depressing note, YA definitely does teach us lessons, and I read Kasie West’s The Fill-In Boyfriend, which showed what toxic friendships were like – and I think through examples like that, lots of people can learn what is and is not a healthy friendship!
    Lovely post, Laura, and I’m so glad you posted it!

    • Laura

      I’m glad you agree! 🙂
      My Sister Rosa definitely sounds like an interesting book. I love books that show a lot of diversity, and the harassment that a lot of women suffer is an issue that definitely needs to be highlighted.
      I totally agree with you about the things YA can teach us. Especially things about toxic friendships and relationships, because when they’re in your own life you maybe don’t recognise them for what they are as you’re personally involved, and YA can really make you think about it and think about your own friendships.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! 🙂

  12. Citra

    Although I rarely read YA, I hate it when people say YA is not a “real” reading material. What a way to entice the younger generations to read!

    NOT.

    I read YA when dystopian was on the hype and there wasn’t as many other topics in YA books (besides romance and vampires of course). Now that there are more variety, I think I should give it another chance.

    Great post!

    • Laura

      I totally agree with you! Anything that gets young people reading is an incredible thing, and so for that reason alone YA is a really great genre. Plus I think there’s so much we can all learn from it, so dismissing an entire genre based on snobbery is ridiculous.
      There’s definitely way more variety than there was a few years ago, and I think there’s some especially good YA fantasy books about at the moment that are more than comparable with a lot of regular fantasy books.
      I’m glad you liked the post! 🙂

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