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Adult or YA?

Which do you prefer: Adult -or- Young Adult books? Or, both? Why?

I cannot even compare the two because I hardly read YA books. The ones (YA) I did read just happen to be of serious disposition. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is told from the perspective of a nine-year-old, who doesn’t have a hint of his father’s job to oversee Jewish concentration camp. How about the recent Room by Emma Donoghue, in which Jack, a 5-year-old boy, narrates (captive) life in a room with his mother. I was surprised to see a handful of booksellers marketing it as YA fiction. That said, I would like to read more YA books and diversify my readings. The adult world is often so entangled with emotional and psychological issues that we often miss the simple picture in life. It’s refreshing to see the world through the simple and innocent, but so often honest and untainted eyes of children.

16 Responses

  1. I absolutely LOVE YA fiction, but has been a recent thing (in the last two years). Some of the best stuff I’ve read has been YA.

  2. Room being marketed as YA? Now that’s interesting.

    I read YA every now and then. I like it for it’s quick, to the point type of prose. I usually don’t have to wade through pages and pages to decipher meaning so they are good for that. I’ve read some pretty good ones too that kept me turning the pages, too.

    I still prefer adult fiction over YA though, but YA definitely has its place amongst adult readers.

    • I found that very off-putting actually. Just because a five-year-old is narrating the story doesn’t make it YA. The Book of Lost Things would be YA, right?

  3. I’ve always shied away from YA but have recently read several YA books that blew me away. My favorite is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

  4. The two books you mentioned do they really come into this YA classification?

    • I’m not sure if they are indeed classified as YA fiction. The campus library doesn’t classify neither as YA. Room is more properly labeled as literary fiction. The Boy in Striped Pajamas is probably co-listed as fiction and YA.

  5. I think YA is to an extent a marketing convention. It feels like any book with a young narrator or protagonist (no matter what the theme) gets lumped into YA.

    Most good YA books can and should be enjoyed by both adults and “young adults.” The concept is also off-putting. Most YA is marketed to teens and advanced reading tweens. These are not legally adults. College students who actually are young adults are mostly reading required literature, not the Twilight books.

    With so many people abandoning books altogether, YA is a publishers dream since so many YA books get read by high school students either as class assignments or placed on an “independent reading” list.

    There are a number of great books, classics — that get lumped into YA simply because of the age of the main characters. These include: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, The Diary of Young Girl and even Pride and Prejudice. While these might engage young readers, were they actually written for them?

    • Interesting how when I read the titles you mentioned in the last paragraph I did not realize they belong to YA fiction. When I was in high school, I found some of the required (and most of the optional reading) too advanced and serious for young, flighty teenagers. Books like The Fountainhead, Beloved, Johnny Got His Gun should be reserved for later.

  6. Good writing is good writing. Lately, some of the most intriguing characters and stories are in YA fiction and graphic novels.

    My book club loved The Book Thief, as Kathleen mentioned above. Like The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, some novels are marketed as YA fiction in some countries, and mainstream fiction in others.

    • Agree. Good writing transcends any classification and genres. I have yet to find a well-written romance! LOL

      The Book Thief is on my shelf, actually for a very long time. Consider the dark nature of The Shadow of the Wind, I’m surprised it’s classified as such.

  7. I am not a great fan of the violent, dark, depressing view of life much YA offers…

  8. I considered myself a fan of YA fiction…and then I read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Marketed for grades 7 and up, I found the Survivor-to-the-death to be much too grim. It’s clear that you don’t read YA if you think of it as “simple and innocent”. I keep my YA reading to pre-1960 to get that world view (or the free YA classics from Kindle, like Girl of the Limberlost).

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