Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why I Love YA

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Beth Revis, brilliant author of the Across the Universe books, is doing something amazing this month. She is giving away FIFTY SIGNED YA BOOKS (I think she’s been listening to my dreams).  And all you have to do to enter is spread the YA love.

(This is clearly way more awesome than my giveaway (lastchance!) but you should still enter that too, because I plan on WINNING Ms. Revis’ prize myself.)

This is hardly a tall order, since spreading the YA is kind of what this blog is all about.

There are a million reasons I love YA. At the ripe old age of 21, I’m technically aging out of it. But to me, YA is timeless. The themes that resonate with teens also resonate with older readers, because we all remember what it was like to be that age. We’re all still grappling with those ideas. To quote the inimitable John Green:

“I like teenagers. They are in the area of conflict between the person that they are, the one they want to be and the one they might be. I want to sit down at the table with them when they discuss true love, great loss, the big philosophical questions for the first time. And I want to be at least a small voice in their heads, when they experience these things for the first time.”

Teenagers are fascinating, real people. They’re straddling that gap between childhood and adulthood. They’re trying to tackle adult issues with a child’s experience. This means literature about them and for them  is full of people struggling to do the right thing and find their place in a big, mess world.

That’s why the things I write and the things I read are YA. Books written for teenagers are sincere. They have to be, because otherwise readers will see right through it. There’s very little pretension. But they are just as advanced, complex, heartbreaking and fun as “adult” fare.

Actually, I think they’re more fun. There’s more freedom of imagination. Genres get crossed and mashed together and turned on their heads. A happy ending is not a sign of lesser intelligence on the author’s part. Some authors are unapologetically romantic, some wickedly funny, some painfully insightful.

But to me the absolute best part of reading YA is the characters you meet. Yes, meet. The fictional teenage people who live inside you like no other characters do. When I was a teenage girl, the heroes and heroines I read about actually helped shape who I am.  There are great characters in mainstream fiction, but do they inhabit you the way Katniss, Harry, Tris, and even Bella do? Not really. Because you relate to those characters. Because they speak to you, as you are now, or as you were then. YA is for everyone who is a teenager or was a teenager (so… everyone).

So what about you? Why do YOU love YA? And don’t forget to enter the giveaways.

5 comments:

  1. Gorgeously put. I'll never understand why YA is belittled by some people, even some authors. It's where a lot of the best writing today is, and certainly the best plots. YA books by nature adhere to more classic plot structures. Teenagers and those of us who empathize with them have less patience for plodding and navel-gazing.

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    1. Thank you. I agree with you about most of the quality writing out there falling into the YA category. And I DEFINITELY agree with your point about the lack of navel-gazing, which is one of my pet peeves of "adult" literature.

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  2. This is a great post. I feel that even when I'm 30 or 40, I'll still enjoy this genre. I've discovered brilliant stories, brilliant authors through YA lit and it's awesome. It spans so many sub-genres and there's coming-of-age and just all around inspiring stuff. Like booklover3, I don't understand people who don't respect it.

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  3. One thing that I sort of love and hate about YA is how competitive the market has become. As a lovely result, some of the best books, in my opinion, are YA. As a writer it's tricky, but it also helps us grow immensely! There are a wide variety of critique partners to choose from, and editors are very picky about what they pick up. (Of course, the market has such high demand now, too, that sometimes really terrible books still slip through.)

    And, as the market continues to grow, writers keep pushing the envelope in terms of content. That is my favorite part of YA. There is so much you can do, so many worlds to explore, that aren't explored anywhere in adult literature!

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    1. That is so true. What lovely points! It's both a blessing and a curse that YA is so hot right now.

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