What even is YA?

thoughts orangutan

Eh- that’s a tough one.

There are all sorts of things that can go into a YA book: coming of age stories, themes around “firsts” and a heightened sense of emotion to name a few. One thing’s for certain- it has to be about *teens*. And not just people that start out as teens and then grow up, like in Assassin’s Apprentice, the protagonist should start and end a teenager for it to really fit in this category.

And I say category, because as Alexa Donne points out in her very comprehensive video on the topic, it’s more of a marketing category than a genre. Which means: anything goes. It’s the wild-west of the publishing industry these days (that ironically doesn’t put out many westerns 😉 )

Because of all this, there have been many instances of missmarketing. I could probably fill a post on the books that have somehow ended up in this category, even though they don’t belong, but here’s just a few:

Now, while a little part of me wants to be cynical and say this is a cash grab, the reality is a lot of teens enjoy this content. As a teen, I personally liked reading books that pushed boundaries and explored darker topics. I’d have most likely been insulted if you told me a book like, say the Book Thief, was technically not aimed at me and therefore off limits (and I’d have definitely read it anyway 😉 ).

Perhaps it is a reflection of this that YA has increasingly been exploring taboo topics.  For better or worse, younger readers have access to books with, dare I say, adult content. Books like A Court of Thorns and Roses is a great example of this- because it was written for adults and yet often mistaken for YA (in fact, I have never seen this book in any part of a library or shop that wasn’t the YA section!) Part of this is thanks to the failure of NA taking off (more for the industry than readers). But a larger part seems to be that the question of what’s appropriate for children has blurred beyond recognition- to the point where many can’t see the line between adult and young adult content anymore.

And while it can be a good thing that adults are buying YA- the expanding market means more books, more bookish industries and more opportunities for authors- it also means that they are the ones driving the market in this direction. Sales, after all, dramatically effect which books publishers choose to put out. This raises all sorts of issues- not least the continuing of this *I have no idea what YA even is anymore* trend.

So, with all that’s said and done, is the term becoming defunct? 

Well obviously not. As much as there have been discussions about the YA genre not doing as well last year, I don’t believe this is because the massive market that exists has gone anywhere (I have my own theories). This isn’t me saying it’s “too big to fail”- it’s merely acknowledging the fact that there will always be a market for high stake drama, with teens at the forefront, exploring the world with fresh eyes. And these are all aspects that this “genre” has in spades. It is also why adults and teens alike will continue to gravitate towards YA no matter what name you give it.

That was rather inconclusive. Looks like I did this whole post just to say who gives a monkeys about genre classifications 😉 In all seriousness, what does the term YA mean to you? Are you a fan of YA? Let me know in the comments!

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88 thoughts on “What even is YA?

  1. Madam Mim says:

    I love YA, or a lot of YA… I think the definition or the standard things in the genre have changed in recent years. YA is more riske now, it has much darker themes oftentimes… It is more challenging. Probably more interesting for adults now, which opens it up outside of the teen audience. I think all genres have to be fluid though…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Never Not Reading says:

    Great post!

    My concern with books like The Book Thief is that in being labeled YA they might not get taken seriously by literary fiction types. I mean, there are TONS of “literary fiction” novels featuring teens or coming of age stories! What makes one YA but the other lit-fic?

    I think author’s intent matters a lot too. John Green and Maureen Johnson, for example, both write their books with teens in mind. Which is exactly what I WANT ya authors to do! But you’re right that some books get labeled ya that maybe weren’t conceived that way for marketing reasons.

    Liked by 5 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you!!

      And I do get what you mean there- it’s a book that definitely deserves to be taken seriously (and technically speaking it wasn’t originally thought of as YA) And I think that’s a good point- I think the difference largely can come down to whether they’re an adult by the end of the story… but I think it’s still a rather complicated question!

      That’s a great point though!! I really agree with you there!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ola G says:

    I stopped looking at tags like YA a long time ago 😉 If I were to venture an opinion, however, I’d add to your main characteristic of YA as a genre having youths as protagonists one other: lots of angst and drama – sometimes merited, sometimes not, but playing to the YA’s apparent keen feeling of the world in general 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. daleydowning says:

    This is actually a very valid discussion. As a YA author – because I, as a parent and a trained educator, believe in the purpose of writing for ages 12-17 – I’m finding that the blurring of the lines is something parents and teachers should be concerned about. While I wouldn’t automatically suggest that teens reading adult fiction is bad (sometimes it serves as very educational, not just for literary analysis but for life), I do firmly believe (from all those Child Development classes) that cognitively and emotionally, most kids AREN’T ready for a lot of content (not even graphic, just in terms of comprehending the seriousness of certain things, like war, poverty, etc.) until about age 13. (And even then, not necessarily!) And even if they kind of understand, will they truly relate to it? I know that even some YA novels I read at White Fang’s age I didn’t really appreciate their message(s) until I was in my 20s.

    So, keeping part of the YA market reserved FOR teens IS important! Literacy struggles between about ages 11 and 19, anyway, and there are a lot of university students who only read what’s assigned for classes, and often stray from recreational reading after graduating. That’s now being traced back to plenty of teenagers feeling that after juvenile fiction, there was nothing that seemed interesting or engaging to them. We really should protect YA as FOR young adults to help preserve adult literacy for the next generation!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Keira says:

      What you said about the 13 year old thing is something I think is a major issue: 13 and 17 are VERY different levels of maturity and points of life. Books I read at 13 no longer particularly engage me and I find them hard to relate to or connect with now that I am 17. If there weren’t more mature aspects of YA I would have stopped reading the category a couple of years ago, which would have been a shame. It’s important to have a range of maturities and cover topics such as war, sex, poverty especially in books aimed at older teens where these things are a part of life. The issue perhaps lies in the fact that it is rare to find a clear distinction between books aimed at 13 year olds and books aimed at 16+…

      Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah I think that makes a lot of sense. Personally, I lean more towards parents and teens being be able to choose what they read- especially since a lot of kids self censor around things they’re not ready for- but a lot of the time they might not know what they’re getting into and like you said there are a lot of people who aren’t ready at a young age and I don’t think there’s enough information out there about what the content actually is. I know that even when I was younger there were more labels like “contains mature content” and, forgive me if I’m wrong, that doesn’t seem to exist anymore- whilst the content has also been getting considerably darker.

      And I definitely agree that it’s important YA is reserved for teens. Just because I read it, doesn’t mean I want it to become more adult. I’m actually reading it because I enjoy *teenage* content- and I think it’s important that it still reflects that. And I think it’s really important to focus on what actual teens want as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • daleydowning says:

        Completely agree with all of this! White Fang has shied away from a lot of “YA” that includes darker stuff, criminal stuff, sex/drugs/drinking, as he’s very conservative in those areas, and feels that people should really wait until at least 18 for those choices (and in the case of smoking and drugs, stay away from it forever). So he honestly doesn’t relate to party scenes or characters who think cutting school, shoplifting, etc. is cool. And this means he generally ends up sticking to the “younger” stuff – but as a parent, I absolutely do not have a problem with this!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bookstooge says:

    This is why parents need to be right up in their kids business in regards to the books they are reading. Genre classification isn’t good enough for parents to say “Oh, it’s middle grade, it’s ok for little Vostov to read at the age of 10”.

    Red Rising is the classic example. It ISN’T YA and the content certainly isn’t but I thought for years it was. I certainly wouldn’t let any “kid” I know read it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah I think parents can take a role. I don’t think they should be chill with classifications or other people saying “this book’s A-Okay”- especially cos there’s an increasing number of YA books that are more, shall we say, suspect.

      And I agree about Red Rising- I was pretty shocked to find that had been marketed as YA to some people, cos it definitely isn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kay Wisteria | Hammock of Books says:

    I definitely think that YA should feature teenage protagonists, and be written for teenagers as well. As a teen myself, it really bugs me that ACOTAR is shelved/marketed as YA instead of adult because I started reading YA when I was 12 and I know reading that accidentally could have easily happened and would have made me really uncomfortable. I’m fine with adults reading YA, but I think the books should really be written for teens, not for adults who want adult themes and content slapped unrealistically into a high school kid’s life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah I really agree with you- I think it should be for teens (and as an adult that reads YA, I’m actually reading it because it’s more teen-friendly and less adult- I don’t want it to be something else, cos I read adult fiction for that). And yeah I really think ACOTAR being shelved in YA is a big mistake. I think it’s one of those books that it was a massive mistake to put in the teen market. I definitely agree with you there!

      Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Oh yeah, that’s an excellent post! In answer to your question, I think there might be a conflict of interest, because obviously publishers want to sell books and educators on the other hand might not be aware that the label YA doesn’t mean “age appropriate” as much as it used to. I think there should be a bit more awareness of what the content actually is some of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          Yeah that’s a real issue here. I know that books used to have “mature content” labels on them, and perhaps (if they still put that on books) it’s probably those books that it would be good for educators to pay more attention to its content. I don’t know if that’s a solution though, cos publishers seem to do that less and less

          Liked by 1 person

            • theorangutanlibrarian says:

              Yeah that’s true- and I don’t want that to happen either. I just think that there are certain books that are adult (the most popular example seems to be a court of thorns and roses) which is often mistakenly put in the YA section. I feel like actively recommending an adult book like that isn’t great. And this is not to say that there shouldn’t be any books with “mature content” in the YA section- I just know a lot of kids self-censor and should have the tools to pick books that are suited to them. Like you said, it’s not an easy thing to figure out though, since many will be happy to use this as a tool to just remove books they don’t like from teen sections.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Fran Laniado- Author says:

                I think with a book like that, I might recommend it to an adult looking in the section, or parent/educator with older teens, but being very honest about the content. If it were for a parent/educator of older teens I might suggest they read it first. But I wouldn’t recommend it directly to a teen.

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    • Keira says:

      It even has a mature content warning on the back and really shouldn’t be in ya and I’m pretty sure it’s not intended to be… just like the later books of ToG Maas’ stuff is being put in there because ToG started out as YA… I think that might be why she’s marketing her newest book as adult not new adult (because NA is a bit of a coin toss whether it will be put in YA or adult sections and if you have prior YA work they just put it all together)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jasmine says:

        I agree. The beginning of ToG was pretty innocent and definitely fit into YA but Last books were definitely more adult. I am a huge Mass fan but her books are definitely not YA. I mean again I wouldn’t want my 15 yr old reading the ACOTAR series because I know the content thats in it. Personally I would love to see books like ACOTAR marketed as Adult Fiction.

        Liked by 2 people

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Yeah it wasn’t intended to be by the author (I’m pretty sure she’s said it’s adult). I think there’s more of a problem when it comes to the later TOG books, cos it definitely started out as YA, so there’s more of a conundrum there. And that’s a good point about NA

        Liked by 1 person

    • lucindablogs says:

      You’ve hit on a really sensitive topic here. I never cared about classifications either until I got involved with a library re-design! Is there a difference between teenage and YA? Or is YA the new teenage? As others have said, there’s such a difference between a 12 year old and a 17 year old. New adult is too small for its own section and manga/graphic novels feel like they should be near YA but are kind of their own thing (also with massively wide ranging levels of age appropriateness)…aargh!

      Anyway, apologies for using your blog post to talk about my own issues!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Monique Desir says:

        No worries. I think your questions and comments open a door to really great conversation. I, too, have these questions and concerns. That’s why I reblogged the post. Reading shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. After all, it’s a social activity, Lucinda! 😀 I was listening to NPR yesterday and the interviewer kept asking the author if her book was really meant for YA kiddos. It was so funny because I no matter what the author expressed, he wasn’t convinced. While, on the other hand, some YA readers (who happen to fit in the YA age bracket) would be confuzzled as to why he didn’t see it was indeed a book for them. Sadly, I don’t know which book was being discussed. I’ll need to check NPR’s website to find out.

        Liked by 2 people

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Yeah I think that’s a good point about there being a difference between 12 and 17. A lot of libraries have a middle grade sort of section for that reason- which I definitely think helps. And yeah there is a problem with NA being too small- I think I’d be happy to see that shelved in adult (for now). Although a lot of NA is genre fiction anyway, like fantasy, so it can go in those sections (that’s generally where I see Schwab for instance). And yeah the issue with graphic novels is I often see them in YA- and a lot of the time they definitely shouldn’t be there! (like Saga)

        hehehe no worries! I really get what you mean!

        Liked by 2 people

        • lucindablogs says:

          Hmmm, maybe the “teen” section should stay after all (but call it something else). I didn’t think about the genre fiction thing, that’s a great point. Maybe we should just keep the graphic novels/manga separate but near the YA bit (and far away from the children’s books – the last thing I need is some little kid thinking The Sandman is a fun comic book lol).

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Keira says:

    Haha I think one of the biggest issues with YA and what *counts* or is appropriate depends on how old the teen is. As a 17 year old something like ACOTAR is perfectly fine and normal, but that isn’t true for all 17 year olds and certainly not a younger teenager, say someone who is 12 which is what the lower band is… YA covers a broad spectrum of maturity levels and points of life, making it difficult to determine what counts… the shop where I work split the section into teenage fiction (with stuff like the Gone series, The mortal instruments) and Young adult with stuff like Sarah j Maas which I think is definitely a step in the right direction

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I think that’s fair. Personally I think ACOTAR is the one I’d say isn’t something I’d class as YA- no matter the teen. That’s not to say no teen can read it- individual teens/parents should have a right to choose that- but it’s essentially soft core erotica at times, so I definitely think it goes in the adult category (and this isn’t to say all sexual content is inappropriate/adult/pornographic, just to acknowledge there’s different types of sexual content, in the same ways there’s different types of violent content eg action vs horror, the latter being more likely to be labelled “adult”). But yeah, I do agree about there being a difference for younger and older teens. And that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. arubunwritten says:

    I’ve seen V.E. Schwab and Jay Kristoff tweeting about how some of their books are not YA and how they find it frustrating that it keeps getting bracketed as such. I think seeing how popular and profitable YA titles are (with a younger market that can grow into it and an adult audience too) after books such as Twilight and The Hunger Games, it makes sense to tap into that ‘if you liked x you will like y’.

    Having grown up with this and out of the target market, I can see what makes a book YA simply from the kind of experiences I’ve had. I have so many thoughts on this and am in the middle of drafting a blog posts so more to come!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah I saw Kristoff doing that recently- and I think that it’s great that more and more authors are doing this! I can totally understand their frustration- especially since they’re often the ones that have to deal with the constant backlash. That’s why I think it’s really important not to blame the author for this- cos most of them are willing to be upfront about this. I do get why people think it’s good to put “if you liked x you will like y”, cos it can make sense (like red rising being compared to hunger games, which is a fair comparison) I just think that should have the word “adult” in there as well, so people know what they’re getting into (and not putting it on YA lists/bookshelves)

      And yeah I do agree with you about knowing YA when you see it. Awesome! Thanks for commenting!! really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this 😀

      Like

  9. The Candid Cover says:

    The wild west totally sums up YA right there! I read from a lot of different genres, but YA seems to make up the bulk of my reading. I am definitely seeing a bit of a shift this year to college based YA novels. It is certainly a genre that is constantly evolving.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Reading Hobbit says:

    Honestly I’ve seen people often think of YA more as a style rather than an age category? (Or rather ALSO as a a style, because it’s still an age category). Because people keep saying ‘not YA but written in YA style’ when they talk about NA, and I know what they mean by it, but I’ve had difficulty putting it into words. But I think there’s a certain freedom allowed in YA in terms of plot, topics and writing – and I think that’s also the reason why people have come to see YA as a genre rather than a category. Bc I feel that in adult fiction that freedom is often missing, as they seem afraid it’s not ‘literary’ enough when they do things differently (although it seems that’s also changing a bit recently). And that’s why adults so often reach for YA things, because of that ‘style’ (or freedom) they feel is missing from most adult books, bc that’s why NA ‘adult written in YA style’ is so needed. And that’s also why books get miscategorized.

    But thinking of it as a genre brings problems, of course, since it’s not a genre, it’s an age category, and then you get things that may be not suitable for teenagers (although thats another whole can of worms, because what IS suitable?). So then we’re using a name for something that’s not what the name says it is at all! If I’m still making sense 😛

    Really we should completely change it all 😛 invent new words for what we mean by that something ‘seems YA’. Or maybe stop caring so much about if something is ‘literary’. And let NA be a thing, maybe in a few years the publishing industry will listen!

    But in the end things like categories and genres are always going to be difficult, because the best things don’t really fit a perfect box, most of the time.

    Great post ^^ definitely something that should be discussed more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Oh yeah I see that too. That’s very true- there’s definitely a distinct style in YA, which is why people often see it as a genre. And very much agree- there seems to be more freedom in YA, which is why I love it (and why I struggled to get into a lot of adult books when I left my teens)

      hehe yeah there’s definitely a question of what *is* suitable. I think there are blurry lines, which makes it difficult- but at the same time, I think there are some things we can all agree on (most people will agree, for instance, that 50 shades of grey and Saw are aimed at adult audiences). My general rule is not to stop teens reading books (telling a teen not to do something is a surefire way to get them to do it most of the time 😉 ) but perhaps there are some books with shall-we-say distinctly adult themes we can stop actively recommending (a court of thorns and roses is a good example of this, since it was technically written for adults and keeps being put in YA). To be fair, some teens will go hunting for that material anyway, but that’s upto them and their parents. And I also think there can be more forewarning for actual YA books that not all teens might want to read (there used to be a lot of “mature content” labels or “for older readers”- and that’s usually good enough for the kids that want to self-censor.

      No worries- you were making sense- I hope I was too! I really wish NA could be a thing as well! Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Reading Hobbit says:

        Yes, true! You can’t stop teens from reading things, and I also don’t think we should, but if we warn them about the contents they can make the decision themselves (with their parents). Honestly there are so many groups of people who would benefit from content warnings for different reasons. And it could just be super simple. Like they do for movies, those little symbols? We could easily use those for books as well!

        And that seems to happen often, that fantasy books written by women are automatically categorized as YA. The Bear and the Nightingale, too, which I don’t understand at all. But that’s another whole (sexist) can of worms :’D

        Like

  11. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I remember reading about how NA grew out of YA or something like that. I suppose that for a “genre” that isn’t really a genre (there are no defined tropes, like there is in romance or fantasy), it’s very easy to put things in YA even if they don’t fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt says:

    An interesting topic. I have a thirteen-year-old grandson who’s been reading everything he can get his hands on since he was about five. He’s a phenomenally fast reader who reads more books in a year than I do. The only book(s) that made him slow down was The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we think it was because he not only read it, (at eleven) but also thought about it as he read. In other words, it wasn’t mere ingestion but internalization of ideas.

    At any rate, we, (parents and grandparents) struggle now to find books at his reading and interest level. YA is a great idea but many of the books are written for girls – romance and girl coming-of-age that don’t interest him.

    YA should present more mature themes in stories about teens coming to terms with their world. Sometimes that will include the classic “firsts” but this shouldn’t bracket the genre. I really liked The Book Thief because it depicted the social moral decay at the center of Germany during WWII.

    I’ve become too jaded to believe that anything from publishers to bookstores is fabricated for any reason other than to promote sales. Could probably pop agents and editors in there also. Designating a book as YA may be cynical and inappropriate but if these folks think it will sell better under that banner, the standards are off. Parents, teachers, librarians: your job is not done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Oh yeah that’s a great point (and a big issue) about a lot of YA being written for girls. And very frustrating as well- cos not enough people recognise that it’s the case (or an issue)- as if it makes no difference (it really does) and boys should just read the YA that exists (that’s a surefire way to have them not reading anything at all). I think there are a couple of series in the YA category that I can recommend- especially series like Alex Rider and maximum ride (even though they’re only worth reading the first couple of books)- which may not be upto the standards of Lord of the Rings, but my brothers enjoyed when they were younger 😉 Also Charles Higson did a young bond series and Cherub was pretty entertaining (though it has mild swearing). I also think a book called resistance by Matt Craig would be good for WW2 and Hitler’s Canaries is perfection! (actually if nothing else, that’s the one I’d recommend the most! I’d say it’s good for fans of the book thief, though it’s completely different). More in the historical fiction vein, Private Peaceful is good for WW1. And a lot of books from the dystopian trend that I haven’t read (like Gone and Maze Runner) are more popular with boys. One of my brother’s also loved the fantasy series wind singer. Other fantasy I’d personally recommend for boys are Northern Lights (a favourite for both genders), doomspell, wolf brother, possibly Miss Peregrine’s series (though that one can be hit or miss for a lot of people), most things by Garth Nix and Terry Pratchett- all things my male friends loved as well. Holes, Lord of the Flies and the Percy Jackson series are always good shouts too. I hope some of that helped at least! Sorry if you weren’t looking for a super long list of recommendations- feel free to ignore 😉

      hehe I can definitely understand the cynicism- I was certainly feeling it while writing this post 😉 And yeah I really think there ought to be better standards in this department- it shouldn’t just be about sales. Especially since a lot of these complaints are coming from teens. Like you said, it’s upto parents/teachers/librarians to be on the ball with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Laurel @ The Inky Saga says:

    I’d loved every NA book I’ve read. I think some of my favorite YA recently has been the sneaky NA inclusions, but I’m speaking as a 20-year-old who doesn’t have much interest in fiction set in schools or dealing with first love anymore. I wonder what it would take to make NA a thing so publishers stop throwing everything under the YA umbrella…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. waytoofantasy says:

    I actually LOVE talking about genres and marketing categories because it’s so fascinating to me where stuff gets shelved and marketed as. You’re right in that YA is a marketing category and not a genre, but all genres are also marketing categories too. And *some* YA has, especially over the last 10 years or so, started to develop certain tropes based on some earlier bestsellers and what the publishers have then pushed forward and marketed as ‘if you liked that then try this one because it’s similar’. But what defines YA is a lot more tricky than other categories (most of which are also nebulous but not quite as much).
    Anywho. 🙂
    Great topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Me too tbh! hehehe true!! And that’s also true! Yeah I do think it’s a lot trickier- I mean fantasy is basically “not real world” and historical fiction “set in history”, which are slightly more straightforward than the category of “probably should contain teens and be something teens want to read” 😉 Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Yesha - Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    I like to read all kind of books but yes, I definitely enjoy YA most. I don’t look at what should be and should not be there in YA books when i love the plot. But now that i have daughter, I will look at the content. If there is something good to learn from the book I would not mind my daughter reading it when she is young. I can’t think about her reading books with too much sexual content and violence. But i don’t have to worry about it for next 10 years, and maybe by that time I will stop caring about it and just focus on stories and how they are impacting YAs or readers of any age.
    great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Christopher says:

    I’ve picked up quite a few novels that sounded interesting and was surprised to find they were labeled as YA. Working in a library as I do I see a lot of books coming in and the major shift that seems to be going on in YA is that there’s definitely a lot of blurring between what might be considered a book for children, teens, or adults–and I think that’s a good thing.
    I also don’t see the push towards darker themes as an entirely new phenomenon. Books that I had to read as a young adult by Robert Cormier and John Knowles, and even Judy Blume were aimed at a youthful audience but dealt with some very mature themes and serious events.
    The great thing I see now is that there are more diverse writers and more diverse characters, which better reflects the real world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I definitely think it can be a good thing… to a point. Firstly, a lot of these complaints are coming from teens- it kinda bothers me that a lot of teens feel pushed out of their own age category. And then there’s the issue of the books written for adults and miscategorised as YA (a court of thorns and roses keeps coming up and is the perfect example of this, because it’s basically borderline erotica)
      And true that there were always YA books that dealt with darker or mature themes- but there a couple of changes. For instance, Judy Blume often came with a label of “for mature readers”- which meant kids like me who were happy to read that could pick it up- and kids who didn’t feel they were ready knew it wasn’t something they’d like. And the other issue is that the trend has gone in a far darker direction- sometimes it’s virtually Stephen King style horror (this is not to say no teen can read that, but I don’t think it should be actively put in the YA section sometimes- especially since a lot of these weren’t written for teens, like Red Rising, and end up with the author getting backlash they don’t really deserve). I hope this all makes sense.
      And that’s true.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Amanda Hurych says:

    For some reason, I never gravitated toward YA books because I always felt a bit embarrassed about certain “romance” covers and corny titles. It became this public-eye thing, where I only felt comfortable reading books I could be seen out in public with. YA books were either sadly left at the bookstore or surreptitiously bought and read indoors.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Samantha Duffy says:

    Bookmarked just did a whole live chat on the development of YA recently and I found that super interesting too. I also was always drawn to darker topics, and more explicit content but my parents trusted me to know what I could and could not handle and that was very freeing. I think especially now, parents are MUCH more concerned about what their kids are reading, and that is kind of a shame really. I almost feel like a new wave of parental censorship is on the horizon, which makes marketing YA and NA books difficult right now. It is SUPER disappointing that NA really hasn’t taken off the way it should have because there IS a market for that kind of content! There are SOOOO many readers who are no longer teenagers, but not ready for adult novels just stuck in limbo, so they continue to stay in what they know which is YA. Which ultimately results in a number of books being mislabeled as YA (to appeal to the older demographic) while simultaneously giving parents MORE reason to notice and criticize the smuttiness that is being advertised and marketed toward their children (i.e. books like Court of Thorn and Roses)

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  19. Anj @ seaweed books says:

    And this is why I love your blog! You always bring up interesting discussion topics. Talking about YA, I feel like booktube really hypes it up. And hence, we have a thousand readers reading YA (no offence) but books of other genre are often underhyped. I can’t call myself an avid YA reader because I borrow books from a library which primarily has other genres of books and very few YA books. Ocassionally though, I like to read a good YA novel. However, YA contemporary novels are my least favourite. The story and the plot seem to be recycled over and over again into a shiny new cover and a blurb that is mainly meant to attract, you guessed it, teens like me. People keep talking about YA books but I feel like they’re taking away the much needed hype from books of other genre. Ariel Bisett often talks about underrated books on her channel and how she outgrew YA and I can’t help but nod each time she makes a point. And don’t even get me started on ‘The Chosen One’s troupe being overdone. It’s like a magic formula that works every time: The Chosen One with a sidekick has to stop D-Day from happening. Wow. Great marketing strategy. 😂

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  20. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall says:

    I personally believe that the mislabeling of “YA” books nowadays is a very pressing issue. I first began exploring this genre when I was 12, and can’t even begin to imagine the horror I would’ve felt if I read a novel with a plethora of obscene content, such as A Court of Thorns and Roses, at this young age. I think part of the reason why so many books are miscatagorized, is because publishers are aware that books labeled as Young Adult tend to have appeal for a large age range of readers. Yes, this may be a clever way to make more money, but the suitability of the content often isn’t scrutinized thoroughly enough.

    Great discussion as always, love! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I so agree with you! Personally, I think ACOTAR should *never* have been classed as YA. It makes me really uncomfortable to know that it’s been put in that category. And yeah I definitely agree with you- the label’s often there to appeal to more readers. The trouble is, even as an adult, I don’t read YA for adult content- I actually want it to reflect more teen elements. ACOTAR’s another good example of this being not-so-good for adult readers of the genre- it was very far from what I expected. And yeah I really agree that it’s important to scrutinise this more thoroughly!

      Thank you so much for reading and for your input! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Nicole says:

    I’ve found that with books marketed as modern YA novels, I can be pretty well guaranteed that there will be angst in the book, and that drives me nuts. It’s like a whole crop of authors has decided that because they are writing about teens they have to be angsty. It didn’t used to be like this, and I hope that it won’t stay like this for long, but I’ve been avoiding YA lately because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe that’s totally, totally fair! I often don’t mind the angst, but I’ve definitely been finding it increasingly off-putting and I definitely think it’s a contributing factor to me reading less of the genre. That said, I think it’s more for teens to decide if that content’s for them (and possibly a sad realisation for me that I’m getting older 😉 )

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  22. marydrover says:

    Honestly, at this point, the only reason I go over to the YA section is because that’s generally where all the books I like are. The adult section is so hard to sift through sometimes, but like you said–high stakes drama, coming of age, that kind of thing. Yup, that’s going to be in YA, and that’s what I’m after. But I wish we could figure out the whole age thing because I’d love to read the same kind of topics with, say, college-aged students or even after that. But it’s like the second a book actually falls into the adult category, something switches. I’m sure there are tons of really great adult books, but so far my experience has been “good grief it’s so long and the language is so dense and ughhh no back to YA”. So I guess I feel the same way as you? I don’t really know what YA is anymore and don’t really care, but I’m going to keep going to that section because it’s given me good stuff for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I totally understand that! I’m a massive fan of YA, so I really relate. And yeah for sure- I’m still waiting for NA to become a thing to be honest. And yeah for sure- it took me ages to branch out and get into some more adult books cos of that. hehehe I can understand that 😉 hehehe fair enough!!

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  23. Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote says:

    Ahhh the YA world is quite intriguing and I feel like it has taken more and more importance in literature over the years. Some of them that are tagged YA should definitely not have been, and I think, personally, the main character’s growth is the only real criteria for the “genre”. They definitely don’t grow beyond that “adult” age. Great post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  24. hannah reads and other things says:

    omg ​you are so right. The lines between YA and adult have become so blurred and things that are written for adults often are mistaken for children or YA books. Not to say that it is always bad, but sometimes there are adult books that are NOT appropriate for children. I really like this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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