Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morality In Young Adult Fiction

I've been wondering....why is modern young adult fiction so popular, even among adults?

Is it escapism? There's certainly an element of that.

Is it nostalgia for our teen years? In my case, I would answer absolutely not. Been there, done that, and it wasn't that much fun. It took me too many years to move forward, and there's no way I want to go back, even vicariously through fiction.

So what is it about YA?

For one thing, todays young adult authors take risks: with voice, narrative structure, social commentary and creativity. It's a wide open field. For example, the Book Thief. It's a  Holocaust memoir narrated by Death. How clever, different and interesting is that?

I think the Harry Potter phenomenon kicked it all off. At least that's where my interest began. I checked out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone from the library, and from then on, I was hooked. It has a perfect combination of everything. A fantasy world combining magic with the supernatural and paranormal and everything in between and on either side. Being cross-genre, it has elements of fantasy, mystery, thriller, adventure and romance. You can have it all!

I've heard modern young adult fiction referred to as desperation lit and disaster fiction. The truth is, it has the same themes as adult fiction: death, loss, prejudice, war, corruption. While there is an element of truth to these labels, they are only part of the truth. There is always a balance; for every dark thing, there is a corresponding light. For every bad, a good.

In modern young adult fiction, by the end of the book, we still have hope, redemption, a moral code, growth, triumph over adversity and integrity. Perhaps in this challenging world we now live in, we all need these core beliefs to be reaffirmed, whether we are adults or almost-adults. We know life is hard, but hard is okay when it's balanced with a belief in yourself and your fellow man.

Why do you read young adult fiction?
What don't you like about young adult fiction?



  1. I've not paid attention to labels before I started writing seriously. I read a book for the mood it creates. If I'm feeling down, I'll read a "happy" book. If I feel like "scary stories at night," I'll read those. I've read a few several times.

    I discovered YA covers about half the books in our library. And I have sons who read it as well. Mostly at the behest of their female cousin who recommends books and wants our opinion though her taste is more on the "dark side."

    1. Millie, I noticed at Barnes & Noble that the teen section is huge - the biggest section in the store. It's incredibly popular.

      I don't go for anything with the usual teenage angst, though.

  2. I don't usually read it because I just don't identify with that age anymore. And like you, not a chance I'd want to relive it!

    1. Alex, I definitely don't read anything with the usual teenage angst. I have to have adventure and survival.

  3. I echo you and Alex, but I have a 16-year-old daughter who reads a lot of it. I've read over her shoulder and have been underwhelmed with the quality of writing a lot of the times. But I think, plain and simple, the authors weave a very good story in easy and quick-to-read formats. Kind of like Danielle Steele for adolescents-- quick, fluff reads that allow a reader to step into someone else's world.

    1. Julie, frankly, I haven't read a lot of YA. If I hear of one that's really good, I'll pick it up. No teenage angsty stuff for me. The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the fight for survival - that's what I like.

  4. I've been wondering about YA fiction's popularity, too. I don't read YA fiction that often but whenever I do I am surprised by the skill & depth with which YA novels are written.

    It's true that I can't really identify with the characters anymore because I'm twice their age but I still enjoy a well-written and skillfully narrated story.


  5. young adult fiction

    Author is now trying to come up with some new strategies. They are providing inspirational thoughts and quotes in their book which helps inspirational building.


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