Before I started blogging (almost two years ago already!) I didn’t read a whole lot of YA (Young Adult). I was mostly reading the books I had to read for my literature classes, and not much else. Then, in the summer of 2013, I read The Fault in Our Stars and fell absolutely in love with the story.
Technically, I’m no longer part of the target audience, since I’m not a teenager anymore, but we all know that that whole age group thing is irrelevant anyway. I know there are some people who think it’s ridiculous that “grown people” read YA, but that’s a discussion I don’t even want to have. If you think people should not read YA because they’re no longer teenagers, you can move right along, thank you very much.
Since discovering YA literature is amazing, I read quite a few of the book blogging community’s favourites: Eleanor and Park, Anna and the French Kiss, Throne of Glass, John Green’s other novels, oh, and a recent favourite: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I loved them all, and I’m so glad I refused to let those who think YA is less valuable than adult literature influence me in my reading choices.
What really got me thinking about why I like YA so much, however, is a conversation I had with my mother. Or, well, it’s more of an ongoing conversation I’ve been having with over the past couple of week, since I started to basically feed her my favourite YA books.
She’d read TFiOS last year (and loved it), but after she borrowed my copy of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe a few weeks ago and devoured it straightaway, shit got real, so to speak. She read Paper Towns and has just finished We Were Liars and Eleanor and Park. This week she asked me if I had anything else she could take with her on her holiday, so I gave her Looking for Alaska and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Yep, we’ve got a convert, ladies and gentlemen.
Anyway, right before we went to see Paper Towns in the cinema (which is why she read the book in the first place – “I won’t watch the film before I’ve read the book”), my mother wrote a blogpost about YA lit, and that, along with the conversations we’ve had about it, inspired me to write my own post on the topic (for all you Dutchies out there, here’s my mother’s post, if you’re interested). So, thanks, Mum!
One thing I think a lot of YA novels have in common is the no nonsense, straight forward writing style. This doesn’t mean that it cannot be poetic as well, which I think it often is. A good example of this is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which is written in such beautiful prose. When I hear the words “beautiful prose” I often think of long sentences, flowery writing, and amazing descriptions, but that’s not what We Were Liars is all about. It mostly consists of short, piercing sentences. It’s no longer than it has to be and gets it points across, but does so in an achingly beautiful manner nonetheless. The same is true for Eleanor and Park and Aristotle and Dante, two of my favourite novels I read this year (and ever).
Then there’s the other side of a novel – the content. What makes (good) YA literature so, well, good, is (again) the no nonsense attitude. A lot of YA novels tackle some pretty big issues for teenagers (or anyone) to be dealing with, and they handle it so well. As my mother writes in her blogpost: it never becomes unbelievable, which is one of the great strenghts of YA, I think. Even Throne of Glass, which is a fantasy novel for crying out loud, feels real to me. The emotions, the way the characters deal with them… It’s a universal thing.
It doesn’t matter one bit if you’re old or young: these stories resonate. They are the ones that had an impact and will stay with me for a good long while, and not a whole lot of adult novels can do that for me. YA literature has a rawness, both in form and content, that might well be unparalleled.
So, I’m just going to keep reading these books until I’m old and grey (or until I get sick of them) because I love them, and that’s all that matters.
Do you read YA novels? If so, what do you love about them? And if you don’t like YA, why is that? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!
Teeny tiny disclaimer: of course I am very much ware of the fact that there are bad YA novels that don’t fit with what I described above at all. What I’m talking about here are the good ones!