Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Hold of YA

There's no hiding the fact that YA has a mesmerizing hold on not only teens but those of us well beyond the pivotal target market years. It's not rocket science to figure out why teens are drawn to stories written for them. But why is it sucking in an older audience? What is it about YA that makes it so damn appealing for someone that's already suffered through the insufferable teenager angst to relive it again in story form?

This article is the start of a series that evaluates the state of the genre and tries to deconstruct why it's grabbing in so many people. Personally, I think the following sums it up pretty nicely -

Young adult fiction offers a promise to all of us that there is no suffering that's not worth it, no agony that goes unrewarded down the line. If you're a teenager, those promises might be false, but they're a temporary balm. And if you're an adult, too old to believe that the balance of life comes out even, you can suspend your disappointments as long as you're immersed in a story that promises something different.

That's just it, isn't it? It's the hope. Above everything else, and despite all of the misery that characters can go through, and what that WSJ article grossly overlooked, is hope. Whether it's Harry beating Voldemort, Katniss liberating a country or a sparkly ever after, no matter how dark the thick of it is, there's always light at the end.

I think, especially for adults, YA is as escapist as you can get. Not only can you be transported to another world, but you can be whisked back to a time where your biggest worries were boys and what to wear to school (in general theory). None of this real world, nine to five, oil change, bills crap was even a blip on the radar. Reading YA allows me, I know, to just escape it all for a little while. To remember what it feels like to be a teenager, where every feeling was magnified by infinity. Sure there's some jadedness going on but they're still free from the real world, untouched by the soul-sucking that can be life after school.

Most writers of YA novels are not young adults themselves. Statistically speaking, neither are most readers. So why do you think adults are overwhelming the market with the need for YA? What do you think draws them in?
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