With major blockbuster films like the Harry Potter series, Twilight, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games, young adult fiction is more mainstream than it’s ever been. So much so that many adults enjoy YA books, much to the dismay of Joel Stein.
I write YA and I read a great deal of it. I don’t read it because it’s popular, or because it’s a commodity or the latest trend. I read it because I genuinely love it. I believe that YA fiction is the storytelling of the future. Here’s why:
Young Adult fiction must be fast-paced and engaging. In today’s world, all fiction should be fast paced and engaging. Readers have changed greatly over the past decade. We’re beyond the age of books and radio. We’re beyond the age of television. We’re in a fast-paced information age where we are exposed to an average of 3500 brand images a day. With the social media explosion, readers spend most of their time tweeting, tumbling and facebooking, and no longer have the patience for ponderous descriptions and self-serving conceptualization. We don’t want to hear you describe grandma’s sweater for three pages. We want a good story!
Young adult fiction gets to the heart of the story. We may say that “Teens today don’t have the attention span for books anymore,” but it’s not the whole truth. None of us in this digital age have the attention span we used to have.
Young adult fiction covers universal themes that have mass appeal, such as good versus evil, kindness versus brutality, abuse of power, etc. There’s also a cap on extremes in YA fiction that can’t be applied to adult fiction the same way. Authors don’t go into glorifying sex or violence to the point of indulgence and fascination with gore.–not if they want parents to buy their books. In some ways, this ‘cap on extremes’ lends itself to good taste, but using a YA label lets people know they won’t be too shocked or disgusted with violence and gore.
These qualities in YA fiction make them popular to a vast majority of people. The style in which YA is written has mass appeal, and these young adult readers will eventually become adults. And since the information age is here to stay for a while, these adults will face even greater social media temptations and more image saturation. Potentially, books in the future could keep the readable, fast-paced style of YA, while adding more adult situations, and become an entirely new genre.
Do you read YA fiction? If so, what do you like/dislike about it?