SPOTLIGHT; food for thought & the Young Adult genre

We interrupt our regular schedule to bring you this post.

A friend recently linked me to this article, and I’ve had it open on my phone for a while. Just to go back to and read because the first time I read it, I realised something – I agree with most of these points.

food for thought

I mean, I love YA books. I pretty much only read YA books. Almost all the reviews on this blog are of YA books.

But when I look at the audience reading these books, we are (almost) all in our twenties or older. Or in our late teens. We read these books for escapism, for the want of the adventure or the nostalgia.

I can’t say I wouldn’t have read these books as a teenager. There are certain YA books I did read as a teenager, but as the author the article points out, the portrayal of these protagonists is, well, unrealistic.

And it made me realise something –

I mentally age up the characters of these novels.

Book has a sixteen year old protagonist who is super skilled? By mid-way through the book, I’m imagining someone who is twenty or slightly older.

The teenage protagonist is super self-sufficient and their parents seem to be non-existent? COLLEGE STUDENT AWAY FROM HOME (possibly for the first time to explain some of the things they wind up doing and/or saying).

Probably not what the author intended, but it makes it easier for me to swallow the stories when the protagonist is not unrealistically young for their actions and their character arc.

Has anybody else read that article? What were your thoughts? Am I the only one who had an epiphany upon reading that post, or am I not alone? Please tell me I’m not alone, I need to not be alone in this, heh.

2016-04-12 11:46

I’m Ara, a Southeast Asian writer who someday hopes to have published a novel, and who is currently losing herself in the worlds created by others. I love books and food and television and blogging and I get distracted and sidetracked easily.


  • Pamela Nicole

    I agree with the article as well! This is such an interesting discussion. As for YA age, I don’t tend to age the characters, but I do choose those characters very carefully. For example, when I was 14, I could read almost all YA under the sun, because most characters were 16, 17 or 18. Then, when I was 16, I preffered to read about those characters who were 18. When I was 18, I rarely read about 16-year olds. I guess as I got older, I was more comfortable with characters that were and sounded their age. As characters got older, their voices and ages matched up better. There are still some great YA character voices that are so realistic: They’re funny, angsty but just a little, and just awesome. I appreciate those, but mostly now that I’m 21, I try to keep just to the Fantasy side, and everything else I just realized, is NA, or my guilty pleasure historical romance novels.

    • Ara

      I think a lot of it, for me, is that sometimes YA characters /don’t/ sound their age. Sometimes 16-year-old characters sound and act too mature for their age, and sure, their circumstances are such that may have caused them to behave in such a manner, but it just seems off to me. Which is why, subconsciously, I think of them as older than they actually are. Does that make sense?

      Oh, historical romance novels are totally my guilty pleasure as well. It’s been a while since I’ve read one. Maybe that will drag me out of my slump…

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