Grow Up: Time to Give Up Your YA Books
Tired of my Tumblr dashboard being drowned under pictures of immaculate shelves stocked with YA novels and neatly piled Harry Potter books between a Macbook slim and a Starbucks cup, I thought I would come out of my Nerdcave and see what the hype was all about.
I started with the preconceived idea that Young Adult literature was just another trend, followed by naive teenagers with a particular taste for soppy rubbish. I ended with the confirmed idea that YA literature was just another trend followed by lazy adults who take pleasure in remaining birdbrained.
To begin with the beginning, what on earth is a Yong Adult? Even to that pretty simple question, there is not one settled answer. According to book publishers, is considered a young adult anyone between 12 and 18. Funny, I consider 12-year-olds as «old children». However, I have heard about writers and readers saying YA is aimed at people from 18 to 25 or even from 15 to 30. I guess it is only after 30 that you are finally considered as «proper adult» or something like that.
I do not want to sound picky or anything but according to pretty much every dictionary, between 13 and 19 you are a teenager. That is right, not a «young adult», not an «almost adult», but a rebellious acneic teenager.
Then why do not the publishers just call literature aimed at this 16-ish age group «teenager literature»? Probably because they realised that «adult adults» were reading it as well and that they would be ashamed to go to the children’s section to buy their books. Understandable; it takes a lot of courage to browse the Twilight books without pretending it is for little niece when you are over 12, not sure I would have the balls to do it.
So… this little clarification brings us to the big fat question: «Why the hell do adults read books written for people way younger than them»?
I do not like one bit the answer I have found but it is to me the most evident. I believe people read YA for the simple reason that those books are written with a not-too-hard-to follow intrigue, not-too-complex characters in a not-too-complicated style to understand. Am I saying that YA readers are stupid? Nope. That YA reader are lazy? Yup. At an intellectual level to be exact. It is the problem of our generation, people are so used to having everything pre-chewed for them, ready on demand so they do not have to make any effort, like thinking (ouch, it hurts in my head!), it reflects on their reading habits.
‘Why drain myself using my brain reading a book written in a subtle prose with an intricate plot and well-developed characters? It might make me think, let’s just read, Divergent, the Maze Runner, whatever… ‘ OK, that is harsh and generalising but that is how the mass thinks and not just with literature.
I understand to some extent that actual teenagers enjoy YA, after all, they are the targeted niche. The teen years suck, they are a period of self-doubt and it is legitimate to enjoy reading about young characters undergoing their puberty existential crisis when you are going through the same. YA authors understand that perfectly and ruthlessly stuff the book market with so-called «real problems» YA literature. (Oh! I have cancer, you too, let’s get together!) Why not… Teens have to blow off some steam from their oversensitive hormones from time to time.
What I do not condone however are «adult adults» reading YA. You do not have the excuse to identify to the characters, (or else please explain to me how a 28-year-old woman can identify with a prepubescent schoolgirl… ). You do not have the excuse either of «adult literature» being to complex for you, you are adults goddammit!! Not young adults, not old adults, not part-time adults. Just bloody mature and grown-up adults. Now may be the time to behave like such and stop hiding your ignorance behind «young adult» bullshit.
It is time to grow up, to challenge your mind, to read something a bit more substantial than soppy teenager romances. Time to open books you find difficult to read, with plots you find hard to follow or writing styles you would not have gone to in the first place. That is how you will develop the ability to judge and think for yourself. It is your duty as a grown-up to educate yourself, to sharpen your mind and challenge your brain.
Sorry to tell you this but you cannot be an eternal child, however cool that may sound to you. As an adult, you now have rights and obligation towards the society so please do not screw it up. It worries me to be surrounded by people who lack the curiosity of discovering new stuff and who prefer to swallow whatever crap they are forced fed. I am convinced the world would not be such a mess today if people had read less John Green and more George Orwell. I am not saying the two are incompatible, it is just like a diet: eat (read) whatever you fancy but eat (read) a bit of everything and occasionally indulge in some junk food (books). That is how you stay healthy (smart).
I am going to stop my rant here and just say that (good) teen literature, Young Adult or however you call it, is fine for teenagers who can still enjoy for a few more years teary-eyed stories and not thinking too much about anything else than themselves. But you, «adult adults», who swear ‘the Fault in our stars’ is not just ‘Twilight on chemo’, I think you are just trying to bury your head in the sand and pretend you are still a care free youngster (YOLO!), unconcerned by the issues that really matter. It is alright, ignorance is bliss apparently.
All this being said, I will just go back to my Nerdcave to play with all my ‘age 3+’ video games.