I’ve heard people say that young adult literature is just for teens. I’ve seen people scoff at the idea of someone older enjoying YA books, claiming that people should “move on” and read “adult literature ONLY.”
I feel really sorry for these people, because they’re seriously missing out.
There’s nothing wrong with “adult” literature — I very much enjoy everything from classics to bestsellers to literary fiction. But I also enjoy young adult lit. For me, there’s something compelling about the idea of a simple adventure story. I love a good quest. Not to mention that I can relate to the classic coming-of-age tale, as most people can, even if they’ve already “come of age.” Which I haven’t, because I count pouring milk into cereal as “cooking dinner.”
The fact is, there’s a reason so many franchises start with young adult novels. From Harry Potter to The Hunger Games to Divergent, many popular movies are based on these series, because there are themes that are so relatable within their pages. C.S. Lewis once said that “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” So maybe those who don’t enjoy YA just haven’t been reading the right books. As for the rest of us, here are some things you'll understand if you can't get enough of one of the best genres ever.
1. Just Because A Hero/Heroine Is Younger Than You, Doesn't Mean You Can't Relate To Them
People don't disregard a classic just because they're a different age than the protagonist, so why should this "rule" apply to young adult books? Age is just a number, and if you love YA, you know that sometimes the best and most complex characters are teenagers.
2. Sometimes You Just Need An Adventure Story
Literary fiction is great. Some YA falls in this category. But there are times when you just want to read a good, old-fashioned quest story. These abound in the young adult genre, and whether you want sci-fi, fantasy, realistic adventure, etc., you'll find something that perfectly fits what you're looking for.
3. Looking For Awesome Female Characters? Find Them In YA Lit
If you're looking for realistic female characters, you'll find them here: from Hermione Granger to Katniss Everdeen to Hazel Grace Lancaster, YA lit is teeming with amazing ladies.
4. Cliché Does Not Mean Bad
Sometimes YA has a reputation for being cliché. After all, there are some tropes that always seem to happen: one "chosen one" rebels against a corrupt government, she falls for a brooding bad boy, people are sorted into categories for some reason, etc. etc. However, just because something is cliché doesn't mean it's bad. These things are cliché for a reason, people! Don't tell me you haven't taken a million "which faction/Hogwarts house/Hunger Games district/etc. are you" quizzes...
5. You Read Waaaay More Books Than Most Of Your Friends
Your friend who only reads thick, leather-bound classics? You read 10 times as many books as her. It's not a competition, it's just an observation.
6. If You Suddenly Fell Into Another World Or Got Superpowers, You Wouldn't Be Surprised
Let's be honest: if you read YA, you are pretty much ready for anything. If you woke up tomorrow in Wonderland, you would just nod your head and say, "well, it was going to happen eventually."
On the negative side, when this doesn't happen, you can't help feeling a prickle of disappointment.
7. You Usually Know What The Next Big Craze Will Be
Whether it's ghosts, vampires, or magical gnomes, you know what the next big trend in YA books will be. And you're so, so ready for it.
8. ... And The Next Hit Book? You Read It Months Ago
Everyone's talking about the newest bestselling YA book, but you already read it when it first came out. While you're happy that everyone has finally caught on to how great the book is, you can't help reminding people that YOU LOVED IT FIRST.
9. You Take Movie Adaptations Very Seriously
If you love YA books, you probably know that your favorite will be turned into a movie at some point or another. After all, Hollywood loves a good YA franchise. While you're excited about the prospect of seeing your beloved book on the big screen, you're also wary. Because you really, REALLY need it to be perfect.
10. Black Dust Jacket With A Girl On The Cover? It'll Probably Be Good
Maybe YA books look sort of similar. Maybe they have similar tropes, and themes, and characters who are going through a lot of angst. But you know what? They have a lot of heart, and the bildungsroman is a literary staple. So read on, and enjoy those young adult books, because you know they're pure magic.
Images: Warner Bros (1), Giphy (10)