They Call It YA


Finally someone is taking the hyper-sensationalist to task.

I detest anything that dwells in the darkest pits of human experience. So I don’t read Young Adult literature – haven’t since “Go Ask Alice” way back when.

I saw yesterday a couple of posts about the subject “Darkness Too Visible” by Meghan Cox Gurdon that was referenced in another post “YA Under Attack Heaven Forbid We Address Reality” by Stephanie Lawton.

Gurdon expresses her concerns about the dark and violent tone of YA books, while Lawton scoffs that Gurdon is a censor of the foulest kind.

The other side of the coin is given very little attention – YA is NOT as widely read by the age group it is targeted towards but by women in their 20’s and older. I see it posted in many forums – adults are flocking to the YA sections, buying up books right and left.

This is a quote from Gurdon’s post – one I find is the most telling.

“…she notes that many teenagers do not read young-adult books at all. Near the end of the school year, when she and a colleague entertained students from a nearby private school, only three of the visiting 18 juniors said that they read YA books.”

I don’t find that surprising – because when I scroll through the forums I see the same things over and over – writers are touting their YA books to other writers of the same age – over 20. They are writing what they like to read.

They are writing for each other.

Back when I was in school – there wasn’t a YA section. There was science fiction as written by Heinlein, Norton and Asimov. Then there was ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the like. It wasn’t targeted at an age group. They were stories that appealed to a certain mind-set.

I believe the creation of YA as a special section of the bookstore (and the industry) was a mistake. These books aren’t really FOR the young adult as much as they are ABOUT the young adult.

That makes the appeal completely different – so teens aren’t  going to read them. They already know what it’s like to be a teen. They are going to read what appeals to them – whatever that may be. My guess is steam punk, romance, fantasy stories, urban fantasy and literature.

I’m not sure that everyone can appreciate the irony of the situation.

I do.

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4 thoughts on “They Call It YA

  1. clumzbella says:

    There’s a saying in the YA community that helps put things into perspective: “YA is a point-of-view, not a genre.”

    Just like “Room” by Emma Donoghue is written from a child’s POV, children are certainly not its target audience.

  2. Catana says:

    I wonder when that YA category came to life. It was undoubtedly the bright idea of someone in the publishing industry. Apparently, they confused “demographic” with “readers.” I read just about anything I could get my hands on, from primary school right on up. My parents had a huge library, and there was no oversight on my reading. Most of it was adult and classic, including books I barely understood because they were too mature for me. A good deal of it was dark — Poe, Dostoevsky, etc. No damage, as far as I can tell.

  3. Madison Woods says:

    If I were still a YA, I would avoid the genre like the plague because I wouldn’t want to read anything ‘targeted’ at me or my age group to begin with. And I guess I’m still like that. If there were a genre called MAW, or Middle-age Women, I’d probably avoid it, too.

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