Hey you lovely lot. Today I have a Guest Post by the amazing N.J Simmonds who discusses the Top 5 YA Book Myths. Natali has not only author with a 5 star rated book but she has experience with writing and marketing in the bucket load.
TOP 5 YA BOOK MYTHS
YA fiction, otherwise known as Young Adult literature, gets a bad rap. If I got a pound for every time someone misunderstood what YA really is I’d be making a lot more money than I am now as a humble writer!
From Twitter comments to conversations in book stores and right through to my own reviewers, I am forever hearing comments such as –
‘I can’t believe I really enjoyed that book when I’m not even a teenager’
‘Oh I don’t want to read YA, it’s for kids’
‘YA writers aren’t proper writers because they don’t write for adults’
‘YA books are all about high school dramas and boring teen issues’
So what does YA actually mean?
‘Young Adult’ is simply a description of books with teen protagonists covering issues that concern young adults. Therefore you won’t find a book about a divorcee struggling with her failing business (unless that person is the main character’s mother) – but you will get a story packed with tension, page-turning intensity and some of the coolest protagonists ever created.
For those of you that are still unsure what YA is – here are my 5 top YA myths!
YA is a genre
Whoa! Did you think it was? Most people do and it’s a topic that is argued a lot in the book world. But if Romance, Thriller, Fantasy and Crime are literary genres then YA can’t be. ‘YA’ in itself is not going to explain to you what kind of book you are going to read because YA lit also has sub-divisions. YA Fantasy, YA Thrillers and YA Contemporary are all very different; the only thing they have in common are character ages and themes. You wouldn’t say that books by Marian Keys are the same as books by Stephen King because the characters in them are in their 30’s and have families, would you? Well it’s the same with YA.
YA is a recommended age limit
Whoa! Another myth busted. I’m not kidding…if you’re avoiding YA literature because you think you’re too old then you are missing out on some of the best books out there right now. Take ‘The Hate U Give’ (Angie Thomas), for instance. Why is the book YA? Because it’s written through the eyes of a 16 year old girl, yet its political themes inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement are far from childish. This book has won all the awards of 2017 and been enjoyed by all ages, genders, race and backgrounds – because a good book is a good book. The fact that the YA book’s main character is a twelve year old wizard, a torn black schoolgirl or a heroic dystopian teen is neither here nor there – and it shouldn’t put you off reading it.
YA books are simply written
No. They are not. Middle Grade books (think Roald Dahl, David Walliams and Enid Blyton) will certainly have more cartoon-like colourful characters and a simpler linear plot because they are written for kids aged 10+ BUT YA is read from 12+ such as the Harry Potter series (J.K.Rowling) or in some cases 15+, such as my own novel ‘The Path Keeper’ (N.J.Simmonds). When you go from Middle Grade books to YA the writing style jumps dramatically to a much more adult level in terms of both vocabulary and theme.
If you compare the writing styles of YA authors you may be in for a shock – each one is just as unique as non-teen based literature. There is no dumbing down for teens in the book world. YA bestsellers such as I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson) and ‘We Were Liars’ (E. Lockhart) are both written in a poetic and whimsical fashion compared to the more dramatic language and style used in fantasy books such as the Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) or Divergent (Veronica Roth) series. So when you pick up a YA novel, you may be surprised that the language, pace and structure is just as challenging and unique as any ‘grown-up’ novel out there.
YA books are tame and have no sex or violence in them
Actually, they can do – especially fantasy novels. Fans of Sarah J Maas will be the first to tell you about chapter 54 in A Court of Mist and Fury (put it this way, I struggled not to blush on the bus while reading about Feyre and Rhysand and his impressive wingspan). When writing my own YA Fantasy Romance series The Path Keeper I never intended for it to be enjoyed by teens until my publisher at the time told me it would be marketed as YA. It has three pretty explicit sex scenes, plenty of swear words in two languages and a few gory scenes (and book two Son of Secrets, release date to be confirmed, is even darker). I was shocked that it wasn’t going to be edited – until I remembered what I got up to at 17. YA isn’t written for impressionable young kids, most readers are young adults, so they want to read about people just like them acting like real teenagers do. And the best bit? YA books are full of way more drama, intensity and excitement than the boring reality of adulthood – so they are the perfect escape for everyone.
YA books are not as high-brow as the classics
Have you ever read To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)? How about Lord of the Flies (William Golding), Catcher in the Rye (J.D.Salinger) or The Outsiders (S.E.Hinton)? They are all YA books. So does that mean, because you are no longer a teenager, you should avoid them? Of course not!
YA literature has been around for decades, it’s nothing new. The only difference, in this age of marketing and social media, is that by differentiating books that will appeal to teens publishers and authors have a better chance of reaching their ideal audience.
By writing YA and covering the concerns that young adults encounter during the most tumultuous period of their lives, authors (myself included) hope to not only show their readers that they are not alone…but bring them together through the love of a good story.
So next time you read an article about the best YA books of the year or see the New York YA bestsellers list – don’t dismiss it. No matter how old you are now, we were all young adults once. By exploring YA literature, not only will you revisit the angst and excitement of your youth but you’ll also get to enjoy some of the best books out there right now!
N.J.Simmonds is the author of highly-acclaimed The Path Keeper series, a YA fantasy romance set in London. She is currently working on book three in the series as well as a number of contemporary YA novels. Learn more about her work at njsimmonds.com or follow her on Facebook,
Twitter and Instagram.
Photo by Jeremy Standley (jeremystandley.com)
Thank you so much to Natali for taking the time to write this post for us.