Young Adult Novels

Novel Reaction is going to look at all things Young Adult Genre for the month of June. This post is going to date me but when I was going up the Young Adult section of the bookstore seemed to consist of a few classics like Call of the Wild or The Secret Garden and a few serial collections like The Babysitter Club. Now the section at the bookstore is HUGE with a great selection of novels in just about any sub-genre like horror, fantasy, romance, or adventure.  This got me thinking, exactly what is it that makes a novel be considered young adult?

Usually the story is about a main character who is in their teens to early twenties and the novel will usually involve themes of identity, including the characters place in society, questioning authority or the status quo. Having said that, what is it that calls to so many adult readers?!

When I lived in Utah I belonged to a book club of adult women who would read a YA each month to discuss and we all really enjoyed the genre of books. Obviously, the prime example of a YA series that has appealed to so many ages is The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers.  Even beyond the entertainment and quick read that a lot of the YA novels provide, what is that captures so many readers?

Personally, (and since this where we provide a graphic content) I find myself picking up YA novels because they are usually sexually clean.  This is not to say that I haven’t come across some scenes that would rate higher than a three, but usually they are pretty clean.  Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey has some of the best sexual tension between Lucy and Nicholas with just a few simple kisses that I have read.

The question of our personal identity, who we are and where we fit into society, still exists even after we leave our teens.  Regardless of who we were in high school, we all had moments of loneliness where we felt like no-one understood us, those feelings carry over into our twenties and further. I think is part of the appeal of the YA genre, the connection to the loneliness we all feel or felt.

Even in the darkest of YA novels there persists a feeling of optimism about the future, a feeling that we can change the world around us for the better.  That each of us has some greater purpose than to simply exist, that we are capable of great things.  I love the recurring theme of refusal to stand back while events happen to the characters, they inspire me to go out and achieve my dreams, however far fetched the my dreams might seem.

What do you think? Do you like YA novels or do you find them only for teenagers? If you love them, why? Why do you think society has embraced them to the level that they have?

Make sure you check back often this month as we discuss all things Young Adult, have a giveaway or two and are visited by authors. Don’t forget the Books-to-Movie Challenge of The Lightening Thief at the end of the month.

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