Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Young Adult Fiction

Young Adult fiction: Ages 15-20 years

Young adult refers to the age of the characters…not simplistic or immature writing.

Young adult novels can be defined as books that are marketed towards late teens and contain main characters between the ages of 12 and 18, sometimes reaching to early 20s. What young adult literature is not is a story that leaps straight into adulthood. The majority of the stories take place during the characters’ teen years. Also, a common misconception about young adult novels is that, because they are meant for teens, the stories must be immature and the writing poor. One only need look at authors such as John Green, Hannah Moskowitz and Maggie Stiefvater to see that those claims are false.
Along with the popularity of young adult literature have come the critics who want to pick it apart and dub what should and shouldn’t be featured in books aimed at a younger audience.

Narration and Pacing

Young adult literature is often written from the first person point of view, an aspect that seems to be especially appealing to the young reader. It gives them a look into the mind of a character that is near their age and allows them to make a better connection and be therefore more invested in the story. Young adult literature often lets us in so we can experience all those teen emotions and insecurities along with the character. For young readers, they find a friend of sorts, while older readers are able to reminisce about their teen years.
Along with the narration goes the voice. Young adult novels should have characters that are using slang and often talking in fragments. The stories tend to be dialogue heavy, frequently informing the reader about a character’s temperament whether it is through sarcasm, wit or intellect.
Another common aspect of young adult literature is quick pacing. Most of the novels are plot driven with cliffhanger chapter endings and more action than sprawling description. The current blockbuster-movie-watching and video-game-playing generation need stories that move along at a good pace and ultimately sustain their interest.


Some of the most common themes in young adult novels are about coming of age, self-discovery and first love. They often also touch on typical teen aspects of being quick to love or hate someone or to have emotions that run rampant. Insecurities relating to body image and popularity are written in, as well as immature behaviour and a tendency towards the over-dramatization of events.
Another common theme is the absent parent.


What is the appeal of a young adult novel that lures in a reader? Often the main characters are given a power of sorts over their situations, something teens may feel is lacking in their own lives, whether it’s the power to make their own decisions or love whomever they want. These novels put their characters into circumstances that a young reader can sympathize with and commiserate over. Even if the setting is fantastical and the characters are those with super powers, they are still going through some of those themes mentioned above–themes the reader relates to. While it’s important for teens to understand the difference between fact and fiction, they can be comforted by seeing a character go through the same kinds of situations and troubles that they are experiencing in their own lives.


There is a lot a debate currently about what should and shouldn’t be allowed in a young adult novel. Many argue that the stories are too dark, too racy and too…real. There are a great many young adult novels containing drug use, date rape, physical abuse, suicide, foul language, and sexual encounters. Some complain that young adults should not be subjected to such topics because they are at an impressionable age but, realistically, these are topics and situations many of them are experiencing on a daily basis. There are certainly ways those topics can be discussed and touched upon without being explicit and raunchy, but they shouldn’t be avoided entirely; let’s face it young adult are having sex, cursing and suffering through unpleasant situations.


While young adult novels are going to feature teens and the situations they go through, they can still deal with difficult and age appropriate topics. The dialogue may come off as “young” but that doesn’t mean the writing is “dumbed” down. The stories are relatable and fast-paced, keeping the attention of a young reader. They don’t always have a happy ending and can be complex and touching.

No comments:

Post a Comment