When I was in high school, there was definitely a stigma around young adult novels. Teachers and parents may have snubbed up their noses if you tried to tell them about a great YA novel you were reading. People thought they were an easy read or that the subject matter wasn’t heavy enough to qualify a YA book as a worthy contender on a book list. Today, that stigma has slowly washed away to reveal a literary genre that is unique and surging in popularity (and literary talent).
Publishers originally intended for young adult literature to reach readers in the 12-17 age group, but according to Publisher’s Weekly, about 55% of YA novel buyers are adults 18 or older! PW also found that most of these adult buyers stated that they were buying the books for themselves and not children or teenagers. With literary conventions like LeakyCon that allow readers ranging from high school kids to college graduates, the young adult market has more support than ever. These conventions allow authors to connect with their readers and further empower the fandom that so many of these novels have sprouted.
What’s more, young adult literature has not only spawned new readers, but has helped an entirely new genre develop. New Adult literature, a term that first appeared in 2009, according to Writer’s Digest, targets readers in their early 20s. These novels tend to be set in college or a similar setting, rather than high school, which is a typical young adult novel setting. Readers can look forward to seeing more new adult literature alongside young adult as the market continues to grow and more authors are discovered.
While I think there are still many that laugh when they hear someone say they are reading a young adult novel, I think that as lovers of literature we should embrace anyone that wants to read. The acceptance of YA literature hasn’t quite come full circle, but critics agree that opinions have started changing for the better. Gone are the days where young adult authors only write about crushes on the boy down the street, or the divorce of a teenager’s parents; young adult novels have complex story lines that will continue to allure readers of all ages.
Looking for a few new young adult novels to add to your list? Below are a few of my top favorites!
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins(need I say more?)
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple