Young Adult fiction. You can’t get away from it. We literally grew up reading it, or only claimed that we read it, in elementary, middle, and high schools. That blockbuster action movie you just saw in the theater? Yeah, that came from the YA section of your local library. What’s the big deal, though? Why is it that when I get caught reading a John Green novel or Catching Fire in public, I wish I was reading something more, well, adult?
After tearing through both the Divergent and the Hunger Games trilogies, and two John Green novels in less than two months, I have come to find that I don’t care anymore. YA fiction holds nothing to be ashamed of. (Most of the time.)
In fact, as an adult reading stories meant for a younger audience, I can pick up on themes that would be only subliminal to younger eyes. Often times these themes are quite dangerous. The idolization of rebellious teenage girls running away from their families, or the appearance of an underage protagonist drinking and smoking. These, of course, are harmless in the realm of fiction, but there are more influential themes among them.
Revolutions against various forms of government and authority, for example. Both of which are featured in the stories of Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins, and which I will visit in a later post.
I suppose my point is that if we marginalize the Young Adult novels as “just kid books”, or “below” the appropriate level of taste for literature, we inadvertently marginalize the youth themselves. Their thoughts, ideas, and actions are extremely vital to our cultures and societies. After all, Katniss was only 16, right?