For Adults Who Read YA Fiction
A few weeks ago, I had a drink with a new acquaintance whose job involves organizing literary festivals. I wanted to impress her. I was participating in the upcoming festival to promote the book I wrote under another alias, but I was under no illusions about where I stood in the hierarchy of literary talents being featured.
As we got to know each other, I told Lit Fest Person that I write post-apocalyptic novels set at sea under my other name.
“Is it YA?” Lit Fest Person asked.
“No,” I said, rubbing at the condensation on my glass. “I mean . . . it’s an adult book, but it would appeal to the kind of adults who like to read YA, especially dystopian YA.”
Lit Fest Person nodded sagely.
“Actually,” I continued, “I’m sorry, but I love to read YA. No, I shouldn’t apologize. Those books are awesome. Hunger Games, Divergent, Shatter Me . . .”
I trailed off, waiting for the judgment. (I’ve read Salon; I know how some people in the literary community view YA fiction.)
But then . . . Lit Fest Person set down her glass, leaned forward, and said something along the lines of “OMG, have you read Brandon Sanderson’s YA series?! It’s called Steelheart. It’s soooo good!”
We proceeded to gush over the joys of YA fiction, science fiction and fantasy–basically every type of fun (dare I say commercial) genre book you’d expect a literary festival coordinator to deride. It was a real icebreaker when we got past the polite, high-brow conversation to the fact that we both just love reading.
Later (after our second rum cocktail), I got to thinking about why I’d felt the need to apologize for liking YA books in front of a Serious Literary Person, even if it was only for a moment. Why should I be ashamed of reading anything? YA fiction has some of the best world-building and most engaging plots out there right now. There are some cool concepts and great storytelling going around, and the target audience doesn’t change that. Read more »