Discussion Post -
The Evolution of YA Literature
When I started my blog, I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go with it. What genres did I want to review? I knew I wanted to eventually start reading more Paranormal Romance like I had been, catch up with my favorite authors like Lara Adrian and JR Ward. But at the same time, I had just started really falling in love with young adult literature...again.
However, today's YA is NOT the YA I knew when I was 14, 15, or 16. YA literature has changed SO much since then, from the book covers to the story lines. I grew up on a few series that I fell hard for and cherished, spending way too long in the library or reading after school, and because of those authors like Francine Pascal, R.L. Stine, and Anne M. Martin, I carried my love of reading with me into my teenage years and adulthood. (SO THANK YOU to those authors!)
I think the places YA lit has gone in the last five years is AMAZING. It's been such a well-developed evolution, from lovable books with easily-wrapped up story lines, to these marvelously ADULT books that are stretching everyone's imagination - from teenagers to adults. YA is often brushed aside as "just for kids," but the truth is, IT ISN'T. YA books of recent years are harder-hitting. I remember reading the Sweet Valley High books and LOVING the Senior Year series as a teen because it dealt with REAL issues, and asked questions.
Now, with the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, not to mention a dozen other series and stand-alone YA novels that have been optioned for films, it's undeniable: YA is one of the hottest selling genres, and with good reason. I've read 77 books this year, and they've ALL been YA. From someone who abandoned the YA genre around 16 and didn't come back until I was 24, that just blows my mind. I NEVER expected to love YA like I do...yet it's happened. My "top shelf" on my bookshelf- reserved for my FAVORITE books - now boasts several YA novels!
I've read some YA novels in the last year and a half that touched my heart, made me cry, and HEALED me, in some undefinable way. YA novels are now incredibly relevant and striking a chord with a great many readers. From dystopian best-sellers to contemporary heart-wrenchers, young adult literature is breaking through any remaining stereotypes about been a "tween" genre. The "young adults" so feverishly reading these books are anywhere from 14 - 30 and older, and the most awesome thing?
We're all coming together over a shared love of books.
And isn't that magical?
With how successful YA literature is becoming (and has been!) I don't think the steam will run out of this genre anytime soon. It's come a long way since the Fear Street series, Sweet Valley High, and The Babysitter's Club books, when YA was just a fun escape. Now these books GET to you. They make you think. They make you question things. They make you FEEL. When you walk away from reading a YA book, a TRULY good one, some small part of you is changed in some way.
The stakes are higher than ever before in YA lit. The romance is hotter, burns brighter, and is more believable. There's more action, moral questions, and consequences. The characters aren't static - they learn and grow over the course of a novel or novels.
So when did this evolution start? WHY did it start? I'm not sure, but I'm glad it did! What things do you see in the future of young adult literature? Personally, I think those old walls between "young adult" and "adult" are slowly falling, being chipped away with each awesome new YA book that's released. Can you see a time when there IS no divider between those genres, or do you think there always will be?
What are your favorite examples of YA literature, and why? What are the YA books that have made you feel the most...are are the BEST examples of how far YA lit has come from the "good old days?" Who would YOU consider a pioneer in YA literature, one of those authors who pushed the envelope and started to break through the barriers and stereotype?