June 22

5 Problems Only YA Readers Experience

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YA Reader Problems

Have you just had another one of those annoying conversations again? The ones where non-YA readers try to tell you that young adult literature is for teens, that people over the age of 18 shouldn’t read YA. Or maybe you just cried your mascara off after finishing Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places. Welcome to the special category of problems only YA readers experience. Here’s a salute to 5 of the most common problems every YA reader understands.

  • You can’t relate to your friends who hate on the teen years.

For some, the teenage years are a wasteland of misery and awkwardness. For you, though, years 13-19 are all about breathtaking love, inciting revolutions, and pushing authority to be less corrupt and more genuine. Sounds like a YA novel! And sounds like your life if you are immersed in the young adult genre. Maybe you’ve read so much YA at this point that it has erased any negative experiences of your own. Embrace it! There’s nothing wrong with putting a rosy glow over your high school experience. Even if you were the shy, bookish girl, now you can read YA about the nerdy teen version of you—and this time, you can totally have that happily ever after with the artsy loner dude you had your eye on.

  • You read across so many genres that you can’t pick a favorite.

One of the ways that YA is so awesome is that it encourages genre crossover. If you visit any bookish websites that feature YA, chances are you’ll see contemporary romance next to dystopian next to an epic fantasy trilogy, or even a blend of all three (steampunk space opera horror mashup? Yes, please!). YA readers are omnivorous—they read any and all genres. That’s what makes us more open-minded than your average reader, but it also makes it harder to pin down a favorite genre.

Desert island question: If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be? Hard to answer, right?

When and if you choose to cross the divide of non-YA (aka “adult”) fiction, you might have to jump into just one genre at a time. The good news is that YA readers are ready for anything and eager to read any good story, no matter the genre.

  • You judge your fashion against what you see on YA covers and movie adaptations.

Sigh. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just live in the gowns you see pictured on the covers of your favorite YA novels? The Selection has it going on with those jaw-droppingly gorgeous dresses.

America knows that sometimes to win a battle you have to fight with fashion, including gorgeous gowns.
America from The Selection series knows that sometimes to win a battle you have to fight with fashion, including gorgeous gowns.

And who doesn’t want to look as cool and slick as Katniss or Prim? Chic and lethal, they sure know how to blend fashion with functionality.

Tris wears sleek shirts that flatter her arms and lets her fight her enemies, and she also sports a conversation-starting tattoo.
Tris from Divergent wears sleek shirts that flatter her arms and lets her fight her enemies, and she also sports a conversation-starting tattoo.

If you’re a YA nerd, you might have added more searches for “breathtaking ball gowns” to your browsing history or have been dressing in more form-fitting blacks and grays and browns. Since you started reading YA, you’re measuring your wardrobe against dystopian warriors and fairy tale retelling princesses. You try to emulate how your favorite character would dress in spirit while creating a style all your own. And if you’ve ever wondered about who your dystopian fashion twin is, there’s a quiz on this blog just for that!

  • You are accustomed to emotional drama.

You love novels that tackle real-world issues about tragic first love, bullying, unfair sacrifices, poverty, and so on…in other words, you love the emotion of YA. And Young Adult novels are packed with emotional drama:

  • Doomed love triangles
  • Prejudice
  • Class divides
  • Forbidden love
  • Adults who have an MO to make young people’s lives miserable

Now that you’re immersed in YA, you barely flinch if someone comes to you with some shocking revelation. As is so often the case with YA heroes and heroines, when some major drama heads your way you know how to be the adult. It’s great that you’re so accustomed to dealing with everyone else’s misery, but sometimes you might need to lighten up. And YA fiction can help with that too. Try some of Meg Cabot or Stephanie Perkins’ romances for starters.

  • You’ve invented a fictional teen for whom you are buying books.

Gotta love that pocket teen! If you feel like you have to answer to non-YA fans when you’re buying books, or you’re forced to explain why you’re reading a YA novel, chances are you’ve invented an imaginary teen. “Summer reading list?” the bookseller asks you. “Uh, yes, my niece, Krista, goes to Central High,” you respond, nodding and hoping this woman will take the hint. Similarly, if someone shoots some condescending remark your way and you feel like you need to shut them down fast, you’ve been known to respond with, “Actually, I’m in a book club with my niece, Krista.” Of course, the ultimate goal is to have your 30-second elevator speech about why YA is awesome for any age, but for other days, well … there’s always Krista …

What’s your beef as a reader of YA fiction?

 


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YA readers


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