In Which I Answer Why Adults Read So Much Young Adult Fiction

The Guardian asks the riveting, entirely original, never-before asked question:

Why are so many adults reading YA and teen fiction?”

And I, alone, have the answer.

Me. The brave one. Who plumbs the depths none would dare.

I have done rigorous scientific testing with beakers.

I have traveled the earth and gone in many caves.

I have fought three bears.

I have consumed exotic poisons.

I have even been a teenager once, maybe, probably, I dunno.

And the answer is —

*reveals envelope*

*opens envelope*

*a smaller version of me climbs out*

*the smaller version of me hands the larger version of me a microphone*

*clears throat into mic*

*taps mic*

The answer is:

Because a lot of YA and teen fiction is really, really good.

*flings microphone in a lake*

86 responses to “In Which I Answer Why Adults Read So Much Young Adult Fiction”

  1. I disagree with most of what is said here, Im sorry but Catcher in the Rye or Judy Blume are the examples given, how about something written in the last couple of decades? Not to mention those books are written FOR young adults about coming-of-age themes, not for adults who either want to read something less challenging or who don’t like “adult books because they are too wordy or boring”.
    Some YA is good I’m sure, but to be honest a lot of it is crap. “I’m not a good writer, I’ll just dumb it down and call it YA.” “YA gives me an avenue to write about love stories or detectives, but ones that are zombies or werewolves or fairies.” these things aren’t of interest to young adults, maybe the name should be changed IDK maybe “adult fantasy” or “adult easy reading”.

    Not pointing this at Mr. W., this just happens to be where I saw this post.

    • I’d put Jim Lynch’s The Highest Tide on a list of fairly recent titles. Technically not written to be a YA book (at least I don’t believe it was), but it got branded that way by some. The Book Thief, although, again — I don’t think that was its intention, but the publisher branded it that way. Belzhar, Brown Girl Dreaming, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I’d also include some graphic novels, like This One Summer. I can’t say I’m a fan of John Green’s stories, but there are moments in his work — in between the more deliberate tear-jerking — that are so subtle and brilliant.

      There’s definitely good YA fiction still being produced. Some of the examples above, I knew they were YA when going in, but others were books I approached like anything else I read and thought, at some point in, “Oh, this could be deemed YA/Oh, this IS YA…”

  2. I agree but a lot of YA fiction follows this formula: girl (quirky) meets boy (intriguing) and her life changes. That’s it. I happen to be under 18 and a girl and I resent that I’m supposed to enjoy these books. These girls are not positive role models not do they have any power to change the plot. They’re just subjects for things to happen to. In fact some of the best fiction I’ve read is aimed at 12-14 year olds. Like ‘Fly by Night’ by Frances Hardinge and the Skullduggery Pleasant series. The main characters in those books are amazing. Perhaps I’m at a disadvantage because I’m a girl and its presumed we want romance – God no. Any suggestions for good YA fiction?

    • What I’ve seen too much of in YA fiction is a rehash of Harry Potter: some kind of school for a powerful boy who doesn’t know who he is. Stuff happens. Stuff keeps happening. I give up on the books, exhausted.
      I’ve just started Spark Rising which is listed as New Adult. Science Fiction, with a great world building concept. Yeah, you have the ‘quirky’ girl but she’s a survivor not secretly yearning for her prince to come. I find some of the best books these days in the SF/Fantasy world

    • Far as I’m concerned, literally anything by Tamora Pierce and Diane Duane is the most excellent YA stuff out there. Romance does happen in some of the books, but it’s side-plots at most.

  3. […] the characters. I think it’s dumb when people simply say that adults shouldn’t read YA (Chuck Wendig thinks the same thing), and this Buzzfeed post about why you should never read Harry Potter pretty much sums it […]

  4. Gary Paulsen’s works, Gail Carriger’s works, Naomi Novik’s works, CS Lewis works, comics, manga…I’m 65 years old and while I enjoyed Omaha the Cat Dancer the sex in it was part of the character’s lives (and sometimes a minor part) I enjoy not feeling as if I am reading a “Continental Classic” when I pick up a book. (showing my age) My introduction to Sherilyn Kenyon was thru the “Dark-hunters” manga and when I picked up the print works I thought I’de stumbled on a masturbation-fest. She has redeemed herself (slightly) in my eyes with The Chronicles of Nick YA series.
    Yes, in the absence of porn YA authors have to pay attention to plot and characterization…

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