Just a quick thought about the term in fiction and the book industry we call ‘Young Adult’. Now, I may not really-if ever at all-read these kind of books, but I do of course know people who do, a few of which are grown adults, and some who are teenage. I am very aware of the big sellers, some of which have been adapted to the big screen such as Twilight, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Hunger Games series.
While I may not really write this kind of fiction, I do respect some of it, and how it can get many people into reading and reflecting upon society.
My main thought here though is the term ‘Young Adult’. What age are we thinking of here and why? Is it just simply a marketing idea, a suggested age for suitable readers the books are aimed or is the label very wrong, insulting or negative?
Why not instead ‘Mature teen’ or ‘Old teen’ fiction?
I could say something slightly mocking about adults who may read books like The Hunger Games or Twilight, but many people who do not read very regularly do simply want some not very demanding escapist fiction, or get pulled in by seeing the films based on the books or by the word-of-mouth or cultural zeitgeist.
Terms and labels can be restrictive for any kinds of art-music, books, actual artwork-and are often mostly used in order to sell and market the items more easily to consumers and audiences.
We can also sometimes find more easily what we are looking for when things are put into categories like ‘science fiction’, ‘steam punk’, ‘young adult’, ‘dystopian urban fantasy’ but what if these labels begin to make the writers or creators feel restricted as they produce the tales and stories?
Also my other main thought here was, where is the line? What kind of fiction crosses beyond what may be considered ‘Young Adult’ into real fantasy, science fiction, horror or other ‘adult’ level reading? What would make a story suitable for just adults- detailed sex scenes, politics, death, drugs or other things included in the book? Why could teenagers or ‘young adults’ not handle these, or why should they not be allowed to?
There are thankfully a number of very intelligent YA books which do involved and consider many relevant themes of race, class politics, crime, government, corruption, poverty, gender and more and this is a really good thing.
Thankfully some of the so-called ‘Young Adult’ books go beyond and around the label and offer many interesting ideas and stories for readers of many ages.