Young Adult novels are literature too

Photo by Brenda Lin

I fully believe that every piece of literature is a piece of art whether it is written by Dr. Seuss or Tolstoy. Every book is a treasure, but no one can expect every book to be treasured by every person. People need to stop stereotyping books and judging them literally by their cover or genre.

I have a friend who is obsessed with the classics and does not see the point of continuing to read Young Adult (YA) literature. I spend hundreds on books every year and though I am a college student now, most of those purchases are still YA novels. I believe one person’s taste should never take precedent over your own, and I am not the only one who agrees. In a recent study conducted by Publishers Weekly, “55 percent of YA books are bought by adults.”

So in response to all that may disapprove of my reading habits, here are a few reasons why I believe YA is so compelling.

Let’s face it; I spend most of my time learning. When I read, I want the tight, fast pace of a YA story. These are the books that I can devour in a single sitting. If a book can capture and hold the attention of young adults who are constantly drawn to technology, then they will hold the attention of adults.

YA stories are plot driven, which means they do not need to be analyzed (though I know some college professors have assigned Hunger Games for in-depth evaluation). They are just intriguing stories written to be enjoyed. Where adult literature has you wading through chapters to get to plot, YA grabs you from the first paragraph and propels you through the journey of the characters.

Although easy to read, YA novels are often very intelligently written. On the surface, YA can be read for the simple enjoyment of reading a well-written story. Underneath, the stories often deal with issues our youth has to face every day, both personally and globally like death, suicide, racism, sexuality, war and starvation.

YA literature is written about teenagers at a time in their lives when they are establishing their identities, becoming aware of their sexuality, dealing with parents, peer pressure etc. The list seems almost endless, but one thing you can always rely on is that they are passionate. The characters are more candid and honest, intelligent and witty. The author lets you know what their motivations and personalities are from the beginning.

It’s not a just a single genre, either. Adult books are classified as Drama, Fantasy or Mystery. YA literature does not limit itself to a genre. Much of the time, the stories are combinations of several categories. It is not unusual to have a romance brewing in the middle of a war against supernatural beings while trying to solve the mystery of the location of paradise.

Moreover, no one in YA novels questions the world in which boys and girls can conquer their deepest fears and come out, in the end, a winner. Characters are allowed to be flawed, but their determination and optimism makes you want to root for them. Conveyed with real emotions, the stories end with the reader weeping or cheering.

Even more, who doesn’t love young love? It is sweet and innocent. I like the experience of two characters finding each other and working through what it means to be in a relationship. Everything is just more intense.

I think I have made my point clear, and I will no longer feel shame for hanging out in the YA section at the book store. Now all there is to do is enjoy reading whatever you are passionate about. I may even have to try venturing elsewhere as well.