Why YA (Young Adult) Fiction is the Storytelling of the Future

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?


11 thoughts on “Why YA (Young Adult) Fiction is the Storytelling of the Future

  1. Alison D. says:

    I love reading and writing YA for all the reasons you mentioned, mostly that everything must be fast paced, which demand incredibly thought out and tight writing to remain quality. You’re point about remaining in good taste is something I hadn’t thought of before, but is so spot on.

        • lvoisin says:

          Thanks Alison, I’m always looking for new reads in the genre. I’ve heard good things about Divergent. Haven’t heard of The Selection before, I’ll have to check it out!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Interesting. For the most part, I agree with you, but I also think it’s dangerous to make blanket statements that “X” is the future of everything. I adore YA and it’s pretty much all I read (and write) these days, but I do enjoy some slower, “adult” books.

    There’s nothing quite so exquisite as a finely turned phrase in an Austen novel. Sure, classics like Austen may take some work on the reader’s part, but it’s so worth it.

    I agree with you that YA puts a cap on things — not that anything is strictly forbidden, but that in a world where we’re bombarded, the “less is more” strategy is extremely effective.

    In the end, I’m all for anything that gets people to read, whatever genre they choose. 🙂

    Excellent post — thanks for the discussion.

    • lvoisin says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for joining the discussion and for your well-thought out comment.
      I knew saying YA was the future of storytelling would be controversial. Admittedly, I was incensed by Joel Stein critique of adults who read YA. I also know it’s dangerous to say we read it because it’s faster paced. I enjoy slower paced novels as well, love a well-turned phrase, and I do think those can be found in some YA fiction too. However, some adult books err on the side of excessive length.
      I never even got to mention a point I wanted to make about the pricing of books. A 300 page YA hardcover sells for about $25 (in Canada, anyway), whereas a $300 page adult hardcover book sells for $40. They did this with harry Potter. Released the kids’ version fro $21.99 and the adult version (with a different cover) for something like $29.99. Same book. I think the price point for YA books also contributes to their popularity.

  3. dysfunctional literacy says:

    I kind of almost agree with you, but I have two huge problems with YA literature. Too many authors writing too many books way too quickly, and too many authors who can’t capture YA dialogue (dialogue that sounds like an adult pretending to be a kid rather than sounding like a kid). But I’m also hyper-critical of non-YA books too.

    • lvoisin says:

      I agree that the market is becoming quite saturated, which is unfortunate. I think that’s the fault of people thinking “hey, if I make this book YA, I’m going to get rich!” Did you ever see the Simpson’s episode where Homer decides to write a YA novel. Neil Gaiman guest stars (and, being a fan of his, I watched it, of course!) It’s satire, but I think there’s some truth there.

      Nothing is worse than in-authenticity where you get the sense a character isn’t real.

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