Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why I Read Young Adult

So I was in my English 1102 class, which is still a writing class, but based off literature, and my professor just so happened to bring up that we aren't allowed to write on Harry Potter (or any popular books), and commenced to say it was crap. Afterwards, he said it was okay, but it was a children's novel. Does that make it any less compelling than a literary novel?


In any case, I began to reflect why I prefer young adult books over adult books. I've read adult books and enjoyed them, but YA books have been the only books to compel me. There's something about teenage protagonists that adult protagonists don't have. I think it's the uncertainty that teenagers have that adults in adult novels don't seem to have, that uncertainty about life.

Most of the adult novels I read have adults who have problems, but their inner thoughts don't compel me that much because it's like they almost have everything figured out simply because they're adults. When I read The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon is this intelligent college professor who has life figured out. He just doesn't have the mystery figured out. And even though in The Other Boleyn Girl the protagonists start out as teens, the novel doesn't explore the thinking of a teenager. It explores the thinking of an adult, which naturally wasn't as uncertain as the thoughts of a teen. Whenever I read YA novels, the teenagers are facing a whole slew of other problems that don't just revolve around the plot. They have to deal with their families, their friends, and their own emotions, which are still developing. Adults in adult novels may be dealing with other issues, like drinking (but so do teens), but the plots of these novels seem to focus more on the main plot, and the subplots are just thin strings that lead up to the big ball of yarn.

I like that teens don't have everything figured out. It makes the plot of the novel more compelling than just A tries to figure out B. I mean, not only does the MC in my novel have to deal with crazy visions and shadowy persons that stalk her, but she's trying to find herself in a world that doesn't have a place for her. Near the end of the novel, she tries to seek forgiveness from a boy who won't grant her it--on top of all the end-of-the-novel problems going on.

So, do you prefer YA or adult? Adult over YA? Or both equally? Why?


Travener said...

I'm an adult, so generally prefer adult fiction. Of course, there's adult fiction that still deals with teenage angst, a la The Catcher in the Rye.

Travener said...

All what you say about Catcher is true, but I'd argue it's an adult novel in the sense that it's not designed to be read by teenagers but by adults. At least when it was published. Maybe by today's standards it would be considered YA. I bow to your expertise in that area.

Anonymous said...

I prefer YA simply because I think the authors put a lot of effort into trying to make the protagonist connect with the reader. A lot of the time, it works. For me, reading adult novels is really like looking through a window at someone else's life, while with YA it's more of an experience because you're right there with the main character(s).

Anyway, I enjoyed the post.