The other day I was talking to this guy. He tells me that I should read more sci-fi. I say, “Okay, can you recommend a good YA sci-fi for me?”
His response: “I don’t know about a YA sci-fi, but you could try [x book]. It’s an easy read.” (Emphasis added.)
And as Sarah so eloquently put it last week, “I have words.”
I am an adult. I’ll even go so far as to say that I am an intelligent adult. I don’t read YA because I need an easy read, and the fact that anyone would suggest that we read YA for this reason is just downright insulting. The fact that this person would insinuate that YA books are easier reads than adult books tells me one thing: this person has never read YA.
Because YA books have just as complex vocabulary and sentence structures as adult books. The characters are just as round, the world building just as vivid, the stakes just as high, the conflicts just as intriguing.
You know where I think YA most differs from A? The pacing.
YA does without all the fluff. Fluff’s not necessarily bad. It’s good to feel immersed in a world. To know the backgrounds of all the characters. To visualize the scenery as if it’s on a screen in front of you. Adult does a very good job of this. But YA tends to tell the readers only what’s necessary. It keeps things to the point and tends to have faster pacing as a result. You can say that this is the case because teenagers have shorter attention spans and authors need to hook them in faster, but I don’t think this is the case either. I think it’s just nice to read books that stick to the exciting bits you need to know and do away with the fluff.
There’s the short answer for why I read YA and how it differs from adult, but I’ll go on. Because I can.
Sure, YA books have protagonists that are teenagers, but as I said before, the stakes are just as high. The fate of the world is still on the line. But because it’s a teenager instead of an adult facing the problem, well, I find it even more fulfilling when the good guy saves the day. How exciting would it have been if Dumbledore killed Voldemort instead of seventeen-year-old Harry? What if it had been President Coin who had inspired an entire nation to rise up against its corrupt government instead of sixteen-year-old Katniss? Not as interesting, is it?
As a reader, I like to see lots of character growth. While there’s plenty of this to be found in adult, I think you can find even more of it in middle grade and YA. Because so much of our development happens during these years. Is a fifteen year old not vastly different from a sixteen year old? Whereas a twenty-eight year old hardly differs from a twenty-nine year old. Our teen protagonists can undergo so many changes throughout these years. It’s fun to read.
And reading about these younger years is interesting because of the struggles encountered during this time: first love, defining who you are, deciding whether your beliefs are worth fighting for, figuring out the adult you want to be. These are the years where this happens. This is where people start to think for themselves and become separate from their parents. This is a fascinating time in every person’s life.
Really now, would so many adults read YA if it was more childish and less intellectual? Most teen books are written by adult writers. You can learn just as profound of concepts and morals from YA as you can from A. As I said before, it can be even more inspiring and profound because it’s a younger, less experienced protagonist taking on a serious threat.
I say to you, random man whom I had a conversation with, go read some YA. Heck, I can recommend some good sci-fis for you. Because I have read some! Go read these:
Go do some reading. Then just try to tell me that YA is an easy read.