|YA Epidemics is an original feature in which I |
numerous trends and cliches plaguing the YA genre. The Epidemics are posted most Saturdays.
Comments and discussions are encouraged!
This is my tenth YA Epidemics post, which seriously amazes me because I had no idea I could keep coming up with so many relevant topics to discuss. So it's kind of a big deal for me to have these posts officially number in the double digits now.
I've been wanting to write a reverse Epidemics post for quite some time, highlight what I love about YA instead of list things that annoy me. What better time to do this Reverse Week than for the tenth post? So here it is, YA Epidemics #10; Reverse Week - Why I Love YA.
It's easy to read. The unspoken taboo for YA lovers. No one wants to admit that they read YA because it's easier, lighter, but we all know we do. And why shouldn't we? Reading isn't supposed to be this huge, heavy thing. It's not supposed to be a way to feel superior to others. (Though far too many people choose their next books for this very reason.) Reading is fun! It's a way to escape reality with your favorite characters, and I'd rather not do so with War And Peace every night. My head would explode. So while I do appreciate and enjoy reading the occasional dense/classic novel, YA provides me with the perfect escapism, no subsequent headache required.
It's relatable...even when it's impossible. Who doesn't remember what it was like to be a teenager? All the firsts; first love, first loss, first car, first job. The juxtaposition of feeling self-conscious and all-knowing. One of adults' best-kept secrets is that we never really outgrow those teenage feelings. We just learn to deal with them better. (Spoken with all the knowledge of my not-quite-23 years.) So opening a YA novel and immersing ourselves in what it feels like to grow up for the very first time, it's like coming home again in a way. It's like acknowledging that we're not all that different now than we were at 17. Even when we're fighting dragons and demons, or learning that we're the reincarnation of a mystical sorceress, or picking out our very first magic wand, the feelings of finding ourselves and learning who we are is always the same, and always present in our favorite YA books.
It's romantic. If you've never fangirled over a YA character, you're reading it wrong. I have like fifteen book boyfriends right now. Don't worry, they know about each other...most of them. My very first crush was on Stanton from Daughters Of The Moon when I was twelve. I don't even remember the name of the first real boy I had a crush on. (One way to know if you're a true book nerd.) But my point is, YA provides us with some of the most amazing guys out there. Funny and strong, sensitive and confident, all wrapped up in the body of a teenage sex god. You just don't find that in real life, and though there are some fantastic book boys outside of YA, a good 12 of those 15 book boyfriends are still too young to legally order a margarita. But you know what? I can. So....
Drink up, I guess
YA is genre-bending. How many book genres can boast contemporary, sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy, mythology, and romance as subgenres? If you stray out of the YA section of a bookstore and enter another, you lose the genre-bending awesomeness co-inhabiting the same shelf space. Now I know that all of these subgenres exist in so-called "adult" books, but not together. "I'm a fan of Young Adult books" is like saying, "I've attended Hogwarts with Harry, staked dozens of vampires with Rose, cried with Hazel Grace, fought in The Hunger Games (twice) with Katniss, found my voice with Melinda, and fell in love with an angel with Karou. All in the same book section." Whatever I'm in the mood far, I'm sure to find it right there in my favorite row of the bookstore.
It's fast-paced. You know that feeling of sitting down to read a chapter or two...only to look up five hours later and wonder where all the pages went? Well, you're probably reading a YA book when that happens. Logically, I know that the fast-paced feel is a combination of wider margins, larger print, and bigger spaces. But damned if it doesn't feel like something much more magical than that. And no amount of trickery with pages and fonts will make you tear through a book you're not loving like a madwoman on crack. People that don't get my book obsession are constantly asking me how I can read three, four, sometimes five books in one week. Like it's hard, like it's a big deal. When the truth is that I couldn't make myself stop if I tried when I have one of these amazing books in my hands. To re-enter the real world right when my current alter ego is about to unlock the secret door, or kiss the guy we've been pining over for the very first time, or find out the big mystery that has been branding our brain with insatiable curiosity to do something as mundane as eat or watch TV or get dressed or bathe or acknowledge the existence of people that weren't born on the point of a pen is unthinkable. And the vast majority of these all-immersive reading experiences occur within the broad YA genre.
They tackle real issues. Of course this doesn't apply to all YA, but in my experience as an avid bookworm, I've found that YA is more likely to deal with tough issues. Drugs, sex, abuse, depression, there are so many YA books on all these angsty topics. In most non-YA books, sex is just something to do when we're bored, not this big thing that actually requires responsibility and knowledge to partake in. Drugs are often either recreational or used to show us an unreliable character, not explored in the mind of someone lost to addiction and desperately trying to claw their way back. We're shown the dark sides of abuse and the importance of saying no and standing up for the victims, and depression becomes something that isn't just for "whiny emo attention whores" - which is quite possibly the stigma most likely to send me off into a hulk-like rage, by the way. Now I know there are some fantastic books outside of the YA section that deal with these issues, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are nearly as many, and I don't think they're nearly as effective. I have cried so many tears over ink on paper, and I wouldn't take a single one of them back.
So. Many. Feels.
Best book covers. You all know by now that I'm a cover-whore, right? My inability to walk away from the gorgeous eye-candy book covers has been the root cause of a good half of my book collection - which isn't small, I might add. I've spent hours at a time in bookstores, wandering and re-wandering every single aisle in the place, touching covers and sniffing pages, but for sheer cover-lust, no section can compete with the YA section. Just look at your books right now. I guarantee you that most of the prettiest ones are YA. In fact, there have been numerous times that I disliked a book and consoled myself by remembering how bad-ass the cover is.
YA is just plain fun. At the end of the day, this is probably the biggest reason why I love my YA. It's fun. Even when it's emotional, even when it's dark, even when it renders me into a blubbering mess of tears and nose-drippings, it's still fun. It still provides me with some of the most entertaining evenings I've ever had, and in a world filled with ways to kill an afternoon, that is no small feat.
So while I'm going to keep writing blog posts on the annoying YA trends - I mean, there really are so many - I still love Young Adult novels with a passion that very little in life can evoke from me. I wouldn't trade a single moment I've spent reading an eye-rollingly bad YA book, because it's by slogging through the worst the genre has to offer that I find the best. So whenever you're reading one of my more traditional YA Epidemics posts and thinking to yourself, "Damn, this girl must really hate YA," do me a favor and come back to this post. I'm not the girl too jaded by the genre to appreciate it. I'm the girl so in love with reading that I spend my days searching through the vast world of YA, never letting the bad hinder my single-minded purpose to find my next great YA book obsession.
Comment time! I'd love to know what you thought of this post. Do you agree with my reasons for loving YA? Did I miss one? Would you want to see more of me praising the positives, or are you more a fan of my jaded sarcasm? Leave it below!