This post is all about my examination of my dislike for young adult fiction. It’s not to bash these books or judge those that read them. Over the years I’ve read some YA books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. But on the whole I usually write off a book if it’s YA even when it has a compelling plot, simply because I don’t want to waste time figuring out if it was the exception.
So I started wondering what it was exactly that was putting me off. What were the elements that I didn’t enjoy reading in these books? After thinking about it, I’ve come up with a list of 5 reasons:
5) Unrealistic writing style. I’ve heard it said that it’s difficult to write children well. I think the same can be said about teens because I’ve read some books where it seemed like the author was trying too hard to sound cool. Even though I’m no longer a teen, I have teen siblings so I know how teenagers speak. So when I read a book that isn’t authentic, it just takes me out of the reading experience.
4) Too serious. Many of the characters in YA fiction are around 16 years old. Even though I know life can seem super serious and you feel overwhelmed by things, I know from hindsight that it’s not the end of the world. It’s especially unrealistic to me to read about teens who fall passionately in love or think they’re going to be with their high school boyfriend/girlfriend the rest of their lives.
3) Instalove. Again, falling in love way too fast. This also happens in chick lit a lot and I find it equally annoying in that genre. Rarely do people fall in love so quickly, let alone before they’ve even spoken to a person or really got to know them.
2) Adults are incompetent. I remember being a teenager and thinking I had all the answers. Many teens have a know-it-all attitude that simply isn’t true to how the world really is. And I know there are some adults who shouldn’t be taking care of children, but it’s not realistic for the majority of parents to be inept or stupid or somehow out of the picture.
1) I just can’t relate to the characters. Many of the previous points are just variations of this major one. All in all, I just can’t get into the book if I don’t understand the character and care about the same things. I do remember being a teen so I understand where the characters are coming from, but I’m so much more mature now. A book won’t draw me in because I now know that not getting asked to the prom or being broken up with by your 16-year-old boyfriend isn’t the end of the world. In short, I don’t really care about their problems, something that’s important for me to be engaged in a book and want to keep reading.
The mental processes of the young adult characters is also something I can’t relate to. If they have a problem that seems insurmountable, the adult reader in me can quickly come up with a solution and spending the rest of the novel trying to figure it out just doesn’t cut it. The big fears of the characters are also things I’ve overcome and moved on from, so it’s hard for me to feel their emotions as they struggle with rejection, for example.
I’m not completely writing off young adult fiction. There are some YA books which sound interesting and I’m willing to give them a chance and see if they’ll work for me. I’m always open to a book that sounds really good and there have been great YA books that readers of my blog recommended and I’m so glad I picked up.
So, if you love YA, feel free to leave recommendations. I love being happily surprised at how good a book is. And, if you do love YA, what do you love about it? What is it about the things that irritate me that don’t get to you?
If you’re interested in a similar post on why another blogger doesn’t read YA, check out this one at Bookishly Boisterous.