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If adults read the YA genre, then is it really YA?

As more young adults surpass their teens and move into their early adult lives, the books that they are reading are not moving with them. YA books have become universally loved by age ranges of all kinds, striking a chord in the heartstrings of people of all ages. That’s what makes it so great. However, in a genre that is specifically titled "Young Adult", it poses the question: What defines the young adult genre? Is it the age of the protagonist or the backdrop of the story or is it simply just a marketing tactic that doesn’t have much substance to it at all?

  • Teen fiction is such a wide, diverse genre at this point that I'm not sure where we would draw the line. Is Harry Potter out? Should adults not read The Outsiders? What about more contemporary books like The Hate U Give? I think the question is not about the demographic age but the content of the novels themselves. At 21, I am beyond Twilight and most YA chicklit, but I am not beyond novels with compelling and diverse voices like The Hate U Give or novels that deal with mental illness like All the Bright Places. I think the more interesting question (and article) is why we keep reading teen fiction, not when we should stop. What is present in current YA fiction that attracts older readers and keeps them in that genre? What could adult fiction learn from this? – jillianlaw 6 years ago
  • It would be interesting to make this into a meditation about what qualifies as a teen fiction and if we can use such a label. What qualifies a Y/A book, is it just the presence of a teen protagonist, is it the setting, is it the surrounding actions? Define teen reads and provide us with examples. Oh and naturally throw in some examples that you feel toe the line or stretch the boundaries of the genre! Keep up the thinking! – huntingkat18 6 years ago
  • I think it would be interesting to see an argument whether the features within a book classify it as a YA product or if the genre is just aimed towards a YA audience. Maybe you could highlight similar features in a few books as well as researching their target audiences? – AnnaliseAtua 6 years ago
  • I think this would make for a fantastic article as there are so many different angles one could come as it from. Genre as a marketing tool, the need for genres in the first place, speculations as to why adults choose to read YA over adult fiction and why this particular genre has gained such popularity in recent years (say, since Harry Potter/Twilight phenomenon) – taraeast88 6 years ago
  • I reckon this would be a really interesting topic to explore the emotional and intellectual parallels between 'Young Adults' and 'Adults' more generally—whatever those definitions might meant or where the one becomes the other is blurry—by showing that the success of certain YA novels share commonalities with successful, often moving, 'adult novels'. The only worry I'd have about writing an article that attempts to define what the YA genre is is that it could turn into a semantic and terminological argument of classification rather than one that explores literature and the readers of that literature. Funnily, even if the article took such a tact and attempts to define the YA genre by its location, characters, setting, etc., it could be argued that the resultant attributes that define YA literature could be used just as appropriately to characterise most 'Adult Literature' (i.e., normal adult books, not pornographic literature—that's a whole other article). Like: Norwegian Wood, The Death House, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for instance. Which is, of course, amazing and highlights that, perhaps, what defines great YA novels defines great literature more generally. [A little late to the party here, but has this topic been written on yet?] – JM 6 years ago