I had never considered the controversy that seems to surround young adult books until a twitter chat a few weeks ago. I knew there were some I liked and some I didn’t. I didn’t realise some people were adverse to them because of the way they handle certain topics. Or how others adored them for that same basis.
So what is it about young adult books that turns our heads? The handling of sensitive topics is indeed a factor. Reading young adult books when you have left your teens means generally there isn’t much of a challenge to be found in the reading material. As a result, the issues addressed can have more of an impact because you don’t have to struggle through the wording but instead think about what is being addressed.
However, aiming a noel at a young adult audience tends to mean the characters are around that age bracket as well. The potential immaturity of the characters can mean that issues are not handled tactfully and therefore create problems for certain readers.
Personally, I am on the fence. I have more doubt in my mind when picking up a novel aimed at a young audience. Sometimes the characters are too young to act in a plausible manner considering the events of the book. Or the lack of reading challenge means I read too quickly and cannot engage with the content. Then there is the issue of love – it is one extreme or another when the characters are young. But some of my favourite books at the moment are aimed at a young adult audience.
I admit, I am a fantasy reader so that has an impact on my choices. But here are some of my top young adult authors:
- Cassandra Clare. I’ve read The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices and thoroughly enjoyed both. Potential issues surrounding the characters ages never arose and I was gripped the whole way through.
- Rick Yancey. Despite controversy over his second book, the reactions of the characters in The Fifth Wave seemed spot on to me. I thoroughly enjoyed his work.
- Suzanne Collins. I admit it; I loved The Hunger Games. It again came down to the characters and how they responded to the events surrounding them.
However, that does not mean I enjoy all fantasy young adult series. I disliked Divergent; the narration style spoilt the plot and the characters didn’t keep me engaged with the plot. The 100 bounced too quickly between love and hate between the teenage characters and it grew to be annoying rather than emotional.
These are just a few of the books that I have read lately. Since the chat and realising how other people responded to young adult novels, it has opened my mind to the messages being worked into the novels and how those issues are being handled. I think each individual should be judged on its own merit. What do you feel about young adult fiction? Or is there another genre you love/hate?