Why I Love YA

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.

whole new world gifNot long after that, I started blogging and a whole new world of YA literature opened up before me.

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.

agnes feeding booksWhat 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).

belle and beast

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!

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19 thoughts on “Why I Love YA

  1. This is such an amazing post, and I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. 🙂 Some people see YA as “simplistic” and “for kids,” but what they don’t realize is how so many YA books really are jam-packed with some serious issues and topics. Great post Anne and, as always, fabulous discussion! ❤

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Zoe! I think the people who see YA as simplistic have not had a lot of experience reading (good) YA novels themselves, because that’s rubbish! As we all know. 🙂 Thanks again!

  2. Completely agree. I’m in my thirties and love good YA. A good book is a good book – it doesn’t appeal to a single age group of readers, but anyone who loves an entertaining story with engaging characters told well. I think that is why I once watched an eight-year old sitting next to his grandfather (who was in his late sixties) both of them completely engrossed in one of the Harry Potter series. A good story with universal themes which is well-written has the potential to appeal to everyone. Trying to ring-fence something as “YA” is just marketing nonsense!!

    • That’s indeed basically the gist of it: a good book is a good book. What a lovely sight that must have been! When I first got into the Harry Potter series my parents read them to me before I went to sleep and once I was of an age that I’d rather read them myself, my parents still read the new books when they came out, because they loved the story as well. And I agree, so much of that label has to do with marketing nowadays… Thanks for your insightful comment, Claire! 🙂

  3. I love YA for a lot of the same reasons you do, but I also love it because so many of my favorite YA books remind me of movies I love, or why I love certain movies. For example, I gravitate towards fluffy, adorable, hate-to-love kinds of contemps because I love watching romantic comedies and period films like Pride & Prejudice, and Emma. I also love YA fantasy because it’s complex but more real (like you said), more emotional, and more accessible for me than adult fantasy. I do love the A Song of Ice and Fire books but otherwise, I stick with YA fantasy for the most part. I’ve read so many books now that I’m getting a little pickier, because there are tropes of course. But a good story is a good story 🙂

    • Oh, that’s a good reason as well! Perhaps that’s part of the reason why I love a fluffy chicklit novel every now and then – my love for romcoms. 🙂 YA fantasy is definitely more accessible than adult fantasy for me as well. I find it way easier to really get immersed in. It’s quite natural to get a bit pickier as time goes on and you’ve read more, I think, and of course there are YA novels that are terrible or just not your thing. But like you said, a good story is a good story, and everyone can enjoy that! 🙂

  4. I often like to see age category as the age of the characters instead of the target audience. Even though I am an adult, I still like to read Middle Grade, Young Adult and New Adult books as well. I like reading about characters of different ages.

    Just like you I had a time where I didn’t read YA, I was a big high fantasy fan, but eventually got bored with it as it all seemed the same. Then I picked up Twillight and I finally found what I had been looking for in books. Ever since that moment I have been reading more YA and more different genres, not only fantasy anymore.

    What I love about Young Adult books is the drama, how everything seems a big deal and how emotions are high. How it’s a time of trying to find yourself and how you are. It’s very explorative. I think I’ll keep reading YA even when I get older, as I like readign about people that age and the issues they deal with and with new Adult and Adult or even Middle Grade books there are different issues. That’s why I like to read all age categories as they all have something I like and focus on different issues or problems. Great Post!

    btw I read your moms post, I like how she points out how matter of factly YA is and how is stay believeable and real. That’s one of the thigns I like too. I often recommend YA books to my own mom as well, once they got translated in dutch. She has read the Hunger Games, the Study series, Divergent and ofcourse Harry Potter. And probably lots others as well.

    • Oh, that’s a very good way of looking at it as well! I never thought of that, but it totally makes sense.

      That’s definitely one of the main reasons why I love YA as well: the finding yourself. That never really stops in life, I think, but it’s certainly a main theme or concern during your teenage years. I love reading about that, even now I’ve passed that stage of my life. It’s such an interesting time in anyone’s life and like you I love the explorative side of that. 🙂

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  6. I have recently gained an appreciation for YA. Like you, Fault in Our Stars started it. People often say “Why do you read YA? Aren’t you to old for that?”. I disagree, I really enjoy the stories. I find reading about teens is nostalgic for me. These stories definitely help me understand teens better, in my opinion. People, including me, are often quick to dismiss teens and their emotions, but they go through things just like adults do. I think many YA stories highlight real issues that teens have today. The stories are also fun entertaining, at least when they are not tearing your heart out.

    • Exactly! Loving those stories has nothing to do with age. They deal with such universal problems, and even if they are “teenage problems”, they’re still relevant. We were teens once too, right? 🙂 (Although I think I’m technically still part of the intended audience, at 22). Nostalgia is big part of it, and I think we can also still learn from it! Plus, they’re just fun, like you say!

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