We Were All Young Adults Once: Why Are We Not All Reading Young Adult Fiction?

When thinking of book genre classification, I’m reminded of what Winston Churchill reputedly said about democracy being “the worst form of government, except all those other forms which have been tried from time to time.”

We Were All Young Adults Once: Why Are We Not All Reading Young Adult Fiction?

Somebody tried to categorise this guy once. It wasn’t pretty

I’m always banging on about book genre stereotyping, but I see it as the single greatest obstacle for authors today. It’s like a door which only opens one way; and if you find yourself on the other side of the wrong door, you’re fecked, because there’s no going back and changing your mind. Once your book has been classified and marketed within a genre, that’s it. You’re pigeonholed, and that’s where you stay.

Youth Is Wasted On The Young, Etc

One genre which sometimes tries to break free is Young Adult, in that it has the so-called ‘Crossover’ sub-genre, which indicates that it might be read by ordinary old adults as well as the young variety under eighteen. However, there’s still only a certain small section of the adult market which will read Crossover fiction, even if going under cover in new, more adult-looking clothes.

The temperature of my collar went up several degrees on this subject while reading an Irish author called Louise O’Neill. The only thing I’m comfortable categorising Louise O’Neill as is Irish, because that’s what she is, and I’m proud to call myself a compatriot of such an astute writer of devastatingly important fiction. But she’s pounded into narrower categories too.

I read both her books – Only Ever Yours and Asking For It – back-to-back, in two days. They are difficult books which are deceptively easy to read. They are about teenagers, but essential reading for adults. They tackle distasteful realities such as rape culture and gender inequality which nobody can be allowed to ignore. (The only people who should not be reading Louise O’Neill, in fact, are anyone as yet too young to cope with the dark subjects she relates so perfectly.)

Her novels are about imaginary people who really exist. They are contradictions in themselves, and about the hideous contradictions which make our societies so hard sometimes to live in. And they are square-pegged into Young Adult holes, which is just stupid.

We Were All Young Adults Once: Why Are We Not All Reading Young Adult Fiction?

For An Industry That Insists On Pigeon-Holing, General Fiction Is A Woeful Cop-Out

It strikes me that General Fiction (into which slots Literary Fiction, Humour, and all those novels about octogenarians who do weird and improbable things) is very often not general at all.

For instance, I have little in common with forty-something failed sports journalists, or commercial salesmen who feel disconnected from their wives; and yet I have read several books about them without ever being told why (or indeed feeling in any way rewarded for it). I don’t identify with the members of affluent families in major capital cities. I have never been in the criminal justice system in Asia, or lived in tropical, post-colonial poverty, either. All classified as general.

Yet we have all at some point been a young adult. We have all had to negotiate the transition into adulthood, or into becoming people who function in whichever way in society. We have all gone through an intense period of learning about the bad things people do, and the good things, and how hard it is to trust, and how impossible it is to be certain about anything.

So how are these so-called young adult matters not classified under General Fiction? What else is General Fiction, but a mirror held up to society which teaches us about how to cope with what we are? And how better to do this, than to look at ourselves while we are becoming what we are?

Suiting The Creaky Publishing Machine

When it comes to Young Adult fiction, pigeon-holing goes to extraordinary lengths. There appears to be some sort of accepted wisdom that we can only read stories about people like us, so minorities are left out in the cold altogether, or alternatively, pushed with patronising smugness when a book appears once a blue moon which has a minority character in the mix.

We Were All Young Adults Once: Why Are We Not All Reading Young Adult Fiction?

All YA readers look like this. All of them

Most often, we’re told that these books are for girls; specifically for girls between the ages of, say, 13-18 years of age, generally white, straight, and who have the sort of educational or fiscal opportunity which allows them access to limitless supplies of books. Young Adult fiction, for all that it generalises between subject matter, is drilled down into this most squawky of pigeon holes. And it doesn’t matter how relevant, or funny, or important, or insightful the stuff is: according to the industry, when it comes to YA, we’re only interested in reading about people exactly like us.

Could I Get To The Point, Please; Some Of Us Have Cake To Eat

It might seem pointless to get ranty about the way that books are marketed. After all, genre classification is essential for book distribution – how else will it get on to the shelf? How else will we find the good stories, unless we know where they are, in accordance with what they are?

The problem is with the way that clunky genre classification hides great books from people who are quite rightly confused about where to look. And calling something Young Adult has the same effect as designating it as Women’s Fiction just because it deals with love or family (unless, of course, it’s written by a man); or designating it a romance, just because two characters in a novel go on some sort of emotional splurge, even though the rest of it is about war, mental health, bumblebees and sausage-making.

Tell you what. Why don’t we all start reading YA fiction, today. Within two months, we’ll have confused the hell out of the marketers, and they’ll have to start all over again. Aren’t we due a change in this new and fickle economy?

The Old End-A-Post-With-A-Question Question

Would (or do) you read young adult fiction? And if not, why not? Go on, explain yourself (if you dare).

  91 comments for “We Were All Young Adults Once: Why Are We Not All Reading Young Adult Fiction?

  1. June 23, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Yep all true. Stereotyping if any sort is at best annoying at worst discrimination of the worst stripe. I really avoid thinking about genre but of course in a book store I’m forced to deal with it and, yes, as a result I’m often going to miss, as opposed to avoid excellent YA fiction. Ditto Romance. But then again my reading time, limited at best is dependent on reviews and recommendations from a wide group so I’d hope to pick up excellence that way whatever the genre. My first book, hero 19, is a coming of age story written with an adult readership in mind. It was the subject of a creative writing course and the tutor really really wanted me to aim it at the YA genre. I resisted. Such narrow thinking.

    Liked by 4 people

    • June 23, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Sounds like your book could be New Adult. It’s a lot like YA, but with characters 19-24 (perhaps older, depends on who you’re listening to) who learn what it means to be a grown-up/ the kind of adult they want to be/ stories are all about the first struggles of early adulthood. All about survival and success. It’s actually a very popular genre in ebooks – though when printed they’re still pigeonholed as YA. Good luck 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • June 23, 2016 at 11:10 am

        But isn’t calling it New Adult poking it into an even narrower category? We should just stop classifying these books according to the age of the protagonist in general. There isn’t any difference in General Fiction between books about 35-year-olds and books about 62-year-olds. Classifying something as New Adult might put it into the hands of a 17-year-old reader, but it takes it out of more hands than it delivers.

        Your point about recommendations is an important one, Geoff. I buy more books according to recommendations than anything else.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. June 23, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I wrote a book which I called YA at the time. To my knowledge four people have read it and been willing to comment publicly. They were a 9 year old boy, a 14 year old girl, a 30 year old man and an 80 year old woman. The two who liked it best were the 9 and 80 years olds. Go figure. The 14 year old liked the main character and thought she was awesome, but had her doubts about the fantasy. The 30 year old thought my system of magic was well realized and cool. But the two who liked the whole shebang were 9 and 80. So what do I know about YA????

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sue Bridgwater
      June 23, 2016 at 9:44 am

      I read books, personally, and refuse to accept labelling by any distinction.

      I once read, years ago in a Librarians’ journal of some sort, of a local authority somewhere in the UK filing all its fiction above the textual content of picture-books by alphabetical order of author. Couldn’t persuade my own employers to do the same!

      A story is a story – why should anyone dictate whether it’s ‘for me’ or not?

      Liked by 3 people

      • June 23, 2016 at 11:13 am

        Just goes to show, doesn’t it, that no matter who gets designated as the ‘people who will like this’, there are always more exceptions than anything else!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Ali Isaac
    June 23, 2016 at 8:44 am

    I read YA all the time, but not the teen girl romance stuff, which is pushed out at a rate of knots and forced down young adult girl readers throats. I think YA is way too broad a classification, and needs it’s own sub categorisation… it’s so hard to find a ya thriller, or fantasy , or historical, for example, without having to wade through the slush to find it, but it is out there.

    My own Conor Kelly books are YA but with a minority twist… the protagonist is a boy in a wheelchair. Hope you don’t mind me mentioning that. Its just to illustrate that Indies do write outside of stereotypical genres. Perhaps people feel that such characters can’t be fun to read about, or that the author will preachy. Or perhaps publishers have decided they’re not commercial enough. I dont like having my reading matter dictated by a publisher whosee only criteria is what he feels will make him the most money. Its why I like Indies.

    Maybe I read YA cos I just haven’t grown up yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 11:18 am

      At least you’re not marketing/throat-ramming your books as minority fiction, Ali. It’s all to do with publishers looking for the USP which will set the book apart, but then they so often end up misleading readers, by marketing heavily on one aspect of the book which doesn’t even figure that heavily in the plot. I’ve been annoyed by that tactic in both YA and adult adult books. And I can’t say I get the teen girl romance stuff. When I was a teenager, I wanted to read about adult relationships, not girls my own age, so I don’t understand why it’s pushed so strongly now.

      And I’m shocked to hear you haven’t grown up yet. Does this mean you’re not sensible at all?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac
        June 23, 2016 at 11:25 am

        Well I’m obviously a lot older than you. In my teens there was no YA. We jumped straight from the famous five into adult books. No one seemed to mind or worry about inappropriate content then. I dont think it did anyone any harm. We all grew up normal. Ish…

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Sue Bridgwater
    June 23, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Reblogged this on Skorn and commented:
    Couldn’t agree more.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. June 23, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Great post, Tara. I’ll admit that I read a lot of YA. It’s really rare that I read books meant for adults – usually it’s a gift 😉 Looking into why I prefer YA books could either result in costly therapy or perhaps a great A-HA moment 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. therailbaron
    June 23, 2016 at 10:57 am

    My book is steampunk but I also classified it under YA because I felt young people should read books that deal with harsh subjects. After all, they are growing up in the same world that produces rape, hate, war, etc. We shouldn’t hide it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 11:21 am

      No, indeed, your Baronship. The cusp of adulthood is the very best place to expose it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. June 23, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Agree! My book wasn’t officially marketed as YA, but it gets called that a lot. A LOT. I think we’d all be better off ignoring genres. When I was a kid I wanted to know more about the world at large, not other kids in high school, and now I’ll read YA if there’s a good story out there. I wrote about this subject on writing.ie a while back. http://www.writing.ie/news/ya-why-by-janet-e-cameron/

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 23, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Great article, Jan – it must be so frustrating for authors. I think I read more so-called YA now than I did as a teenager.

      Liked by 1 person

      • therailbaron
        June 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

        Frustrating, Tara? Good word. Another good one is AAAAAARRRRRRRRFGGGGGGGGGGHHHHH!

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 25, 2016 at 7:58 pm

          That’s a great word, Baron. I’ll look forward to seeing it in the OED next year.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. June 23, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Do writers of YA fiction have to leave out nitty gritty details of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll? If so, this may explain why adults do not read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Writers of YA fiction don’t have to do anything except have a protagonist between the ages of 13ish to 18ish, Stevie, so I don’t think the nitty gritty is to blame.

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm

        Ah, that’s interesting. I had always thought YA fiction had to be ‘clean’. Something else I’ve learned today. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. June 23, 2016 at 11:52 am

    I read lots of YA. I expect plot and action without tawdry or tiresome sex, and I am usually rewarded.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      I don’t think adult books benefit from tawdry or tiresome sex either, Timothy, so it’s not just YA that should be free from it. They authors of poorly-written erotica might beg to differ (not that I care).

      Liked by 1 person

  10. armenpogharian
    June 23, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I read books. Lots of them happen to be YA. I also happen to write books. I think of them as fantasy. One set explores the intersection of Welsh myth & string theory with the role of king arthur filled by a 13-year old girl. The other is a James Bond-like adventure in a high fantasy setting. Neither features any sex, drugs, or foul language – I follow the axiom write what you know. My publisher lists them (there’s no real marketing campaign) as both fantasy and YA. To the extent that readers admit to reading my books, anecdotal evidence suggests an even split between adult and <18 readers. Is that a product of their listing or a statement about something else? I suspect the sample size is too small to draw any legitimate conclusions. I'd obviously welcome any assistance to improve said sample size.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Armen, I don’t think that sex, drugs, or foul language, or the lack of them, is anything to do with genre classification. It’s largely to do with the age of the main characters, which would then in turn usually have a knock-on effect on how much of that unholy trinity is written into the plot. There does seem to be a higher proportion of fantasy in YA, from what I can see, but the difficulty is getting it to cross over once it’s been designated as YA.

      Liked by 2 people

      • armenpogharian
        June 23, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        I get your point that the unholy trinity shouldn’t have anything to do with genre classification.
        The content of the story should serve the needs of the tale regardless of genre classification. It’s hard to argue with that. The problem arises from the idea of YA as a genre. In many ways it’s similar to the “general fiction” genre you discuss. To me, YA isn’t really a genre at all – but a lazy term invented to simplify marketing for publishers and poor retailers.

        Lots of kids read books. They may represent the largest block of readers out there. Publishers and retailers need to reach them. What better way than to give them their own genre. YA is meant to signal to them and their parents (who often pay for the books) that publishers have product for them. Given the size of the youth market, publishers are happy to stuff as many of their titles in it as possible. If a book features teens as the protagonists, then they classify it as YA – regardless of whether it’s a mystery, horror, fantasy, or coming of age story.

        Unfortunately the YA moniker – often incorrectly – sends a message to older readers. This is a children’s book, if you’re a serious reader or want something for adults read something else. The unholy trinity enters the picture in an implied way. Maybe it’s because other industries (movies, video games, even for a brief time music) labeled product with warnings for youth based on its “unholy” content. I’m thinking about language warnings on records (ouch there’s an age indicator for you) or the obligatory nude-scene, drug-use sequence, or foul language rant to ‘pump up’ a movie’s rating. These labels have bled into the book world. Now many readers equate the YA label in a uni-directional way. It’s become restrictive to Young Adults rather than inclusive of them. This gets back to the unholy trinity as implied by Timothy Gwyn above. YA means none of the unholy trinity appear in the book – which in many cases is obviously incorrect.

        As for Fantasy, I think it carries a lot of other baggage relative to its seriousness as a genre for adults, which oddly enough eases its path to crossing over. Something along the lines of most fantasy is viewed as non-serious, so it’s easier for adults to read regardless of the YA moniker.


        • June 23, 2016 at 3:05 pm

          Plenty of YA books I’ve read have included sex, drugs, foul language, rock ‘n’ roll, violence, abuse, and anything else you can throw at them, Armen. They’re part of life for teenagers as much as anyone else. As I’ve said, it’s only the age of the protagonists that hammers it into a YA genre. So my point is not that such matters which are distasteful to some adults (not me incidentally) shouldn’t be part of YA fiction; my point is that they are, and thus labelling stuff as YA is unnecessarily restrictive when they deal with life in general, and counterintuitive to the marketing strategy behind it, of trying to increase sales.

          Liked by 1 person

          • armenpogharian
            June 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm

            Tara, I think we’re mostly in agreement. As has happened before it’s only our (mine mostly) writing skills that prevent us from seeing it as such. My only point would be that YA isn’t really a genre. As you and others have pointed out it’s a rather poor marketing segmentation masquerading as a genre.

            Liked by 1 person

  11. June 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I didn’t think of this but your darn right. I have been meaning to read Louise O’Neill for some time. I know it doesn’t fall into Harry Potter territory (and did that suffer or soar because of it’s categorisation? Why am I asking a question I haven’t thought through myself? I don’t know. I haven’t even read Harry Potter either. Well shut up then. OK.) but if J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on all the divisive issues from Scottish liberation to Brexit are worthy of being elevated to legitimate chin-stroking to be shared with the rest of us, then so should Louise O’Neill’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Do read Louise O’Neill, Specuness, not only for your own sake but for the sake of those coming after you who may or may not have some of your DNA. I think what elevated Harry Potter was the bloody great plot. It broke the barrier because nobody could deny it was a cracking story for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. June 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    This is so true. I write books, first and foremost. The series I have right now is classified YA, but honestly, the majority of people reading them and reviewing/commenting are well past young adulthood. And so it should be. My next book will be for ‘grown-ups’, yet I know a teenage girl who’s very keen to read it. When I was reading, as a child, then as a young adult, then as an actual adult, I just chose books I liked. One book I remember reading several times around the age of 12 was called ‘fifty true tales of terror’ and it was as gruesome as the title implies. Sure, I read sweet valley high and those sort of teen fluff novels, but rounded them out with a lot of other books on different subjects, and I never considered, or was forced to consider, that I should be reading YA. It just seems like another marketing strategy, honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      And that’s exactly the problem with it, Helen. Anything which stems solely from a marketing strategy is always going to be shallow in some way. I read mostly adult books in my teens too. I was aware that there were ones with particularly violent or sexual content which my folks didn’t want me to read, but I wasn’t looking for that sort of stuff. I just wanted a great story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 23, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        Yes. I never had anyone censor my reading choices, or say that I ‘should’ be reading something – I was free to make my own choices based on what I liked. Which, like you, was a great story. And I feel my reading experience was richer for it.


  13. June 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. I’ve also blogged about the wide appeal of YA and why all ages can get something out of it. A well-written book is, to me, above genre.
    I read all genres – save for fantasy – and so far have written two books which are classified as YA and NA. That said, I believe they are readable and entertaining for just about anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Well, anyone within reach of the marketing strategy, Jennifer… overall, it’s like changing the tyre on a car which is on fire 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. June 23, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Yes, I admit I read YA. I teach middle school (smack dab in the middle of Angst) so it’s not my fault. But they tell me some great reads. I grew up reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret & some Agatha Christie & Erle Stanley Gardener. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      You’ve inspired me, Victoria. I need to start keeping some children and teenagers in my basement so that I don’t miss out on anything in future. As long as I give them a steady supply of books, I don’t think anyone could have a problem with that. Perhaps I could take some of the angstiest off your hands.


  15. June 23, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    You speak your usual sense, Tara, but I’m not really qualified to comment. I decided years ago — decades, in fact — that 12 was a good age to be if you’re male and 12 I have been ever since. You can play cricket all day in the summer holidays and girls haven’t started to impinge. (I don’t suppose that’s true for today’s 12 year olds, but I’m one of yesterday’s 12 year olds. Or even last year’s). Girls have to grow up, it’s in the job description, but for boys it’s optional and I decided against. So I’m not qualified yet for Young Adult.

    What I wanted to ask, though: you mention commercial salesmen and this is something I’ve often wondered about. What’s the difference between a commercial salesman and any old ordinary salesman? (Assuming, as I do, that a commercial salesman isn’t someone who sells TV ads).

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      You can’t accuse me of talking sense, John! They’ll all want me to do it if word gets out! Take it back, and I won’t point out the flaws in your strategy to remain 12.

      As for the commercial salesman, I mean that antiquated notion from the 50s/60s, applied to sales reps who dealt with businesses rather than consumers. When I hear it, I always think of big suits, dubious morals and hidden anxieties. Fiction fodder.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Carrie Beckort
    June 23, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I enjoy reading YA, and have been reading a lot more of it lately. As you mention, we were all young once and were trying to navigate the transition into adulthood. I can connect with many of the YA characters and their struggles. Now that I’m a mother to an almost 10-year-old, it seems fitting to read more YA. I’m hoping it will remind me of how difficult it was to be young at times, and, as a result, I’ll be more patient with my daughter and the challenges she is about to face.

    Your post did make me think — in the novel I’m currently writing, the MC is a 15-year-old boy who is angry after his parents’ divorce. Based on the age criteria, it should be YA. However, I’ve never thought of it that way. My ‘target’ reader is the adult as I want them to feel the effects of divorce through the child’s eyes. I’ve certainly acknowledged that younger readers could read it, but they have not been my intended audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      I’m sure it’s not what’s intended by most authors, Carrie – see Janet’s comment above, and the link to her article is worth a click too. It’s possibly one of the most adult experiences around to have such pure and innocent hopes for the book you’ve written, only to find out what the marketing folk are going to do with it 😦


  17. June 23, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    I am of an age that shall not be named (at least not publically), but to say I read YA is an understatement. I devour YA (I also read fantasy, scifi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, mystery, humor, and general fiction but that is beside the point). I am a busy woman writing my own novels, raising children, and, on occasion, actually doing the day job that pays the bills. YA’s typical length and pacing is perfect for me. However, I got ticked off when so many of the books I read featured a sixteen-year-old. I mean there were only so many dazzling proms I could take (mine, by the way, was not particularly noteworthy). So I wrote my first book, attempting the pace of YA, but featuring a more mature lead only to find it classified on the sales aisles as Women’s Fiction. Go figure.

    What is funny is that when I actually was a young adult I don’t particularly remember seeking out ‘young adult’ fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 23, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      I don’t know if YA was around then, Allie… Was it? I knew that I wanted to read everything by authors like Judy Blume and Paula Danziger, and there were imprints which catered solely for fiction which only teens would genuinely want to read, but didn’t they just call it teen, or children’s then? Crossover didn’t exist. Adult themes with teen protagonists was marketed as adult. This starker genre divide is a modern construct.


      • June 23, 2016 at 7:56 pm

        Now that you mention it, I do remember the section was called Teen and featured stand alone books, typically a half inch thick or less, which were still part of a large series like Sweet Valley High or the Babysitter’s Club. You are absolutely right.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. June 23, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    I really wanted to be able to add something wild and different to this thread. I thought briefly about claiming that I’d never at any time been a young adult, but I didn’t think you’d believe me. In the end, I’ve simply had admit that you’re right about genre classification. It is sometimes rather poorly handled and that doesn’t do either readers or authors any favors. (I’m sorry about being so boring.) 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 27, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Um…. I feel complicit in this, Bun, and I am most heartily sorry. Overzealous Akismet lobbed your comment into spam, which is like TOTES not okay, and I was away, so I couldn’t rescue it for days and days. This is dreadful. Nobody who agrees with me should be subjected to such fascist filtering. Please accept my apologies, and a large virtual hug.

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

        Thank you for the concern, Tara. It has been awful, but with your kind words and the help and support of my counsellor, I think I can get through this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

          I don’t think careers counselling is going to help you much in this matter, Bun, but it might be worth it for the placebo effect alone.

          Liked by 1 person

          • June 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

            I don’t think I can really give up the counseling, Tara. It’s not that it helps much, but I’d miss the tea and cookies.

            Liked by 1 person

  19. June 23, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Noooo! I wrote a reply to this post and it has just disappeared this second into thin air! What happened? Agh!

    Well, the gist of it was that you’re right, Tara. Poorly handled genre classification is bad for both authors and readers. Now excuse me while I find a representative from WordPress to punch on the nose.

    (I’d put an angry smiley here if I knew how to make one.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      And again. Why were 2 of your perfectly fine and unspammy comments sent to the naughty step, when so many perfectly obvious spammy comments from people who just want to mention their website on this blog get presented for my approval? Why? Why??

      D’you want any more bodies in the posse heading over to WordPress HQ? (I don’t know how to do an angrie either… or is that a crossie?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 27, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        And you wouldn’t believe it, but just as I was answering you, I got a request to moderate another spam comment. Life isn’t fair, Bun. ‘Snot fair at all.


      • June 29, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        No problem, Tara. It actually happens to me a lot. I’d like to think it’s because the content is so amazing, WordPress is terrified their servers just wouldn’t be able to handle the massive response my comments would generate if they appeared directly on people’s blogs.

        Sadly, I think it’s probably just that my blog settings are wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. June 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    You’re just confused, Tara, because of all those teenage hormones. Don’t you turn 13 today? Happy birthday and many happy returns, darling. I’d buy you a YA book as a gift, but after reading your post I think I’ll settle for a cake.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. June 23, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I’ve told you before about being so popular. 46 comments to plough through before finding the box . . . the bloody box to write something in.

    Anyway, I don’t read YA because I don’t read fiction except for Martin Amis and the occasional writer from Scandinavia. I suspect some YA authros and agents and publishers use the term as a euphemism for ‘like that other book that sold well and got made into a film.’ When was YA first used as a genre term anyway? And is there such a thing as an old adult?

    At the end of the week, ‘it’s all about the moolah, innit?

    (Notice how I slipped in a bit of yoofspeak there. Can turn my hand to anything, I can.)

    My own novels occupy a genre of their own: Intelligent Idiot. Not to be confused with a savant, which is just a fancy name for the French.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 24, 2016 at 12:27 am

      We’re not allowed to talk about the French until the tournament is over, Chris. But I hear you (apropos of last post, which was incidentally way more poplar than this one). We all know that books made into movies are the ticket to financial nirvana. That’s why mind is about the next big yoof craze, which I can’t tell you about yet. Soz.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. June 23, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Genre is an absolute pain. Um… Catcher in the Rye? To Kill a Mockingbird? I guess they’d be YA today.
    I have just remembered the shock I felt when a seriously intellectual friend read a draft of my first novel (an ambitious 5-adult-quintangle, very eventful, but tackling the role of poetry and music in grief and disability) and said, is it for teenagers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 24, 2016 at 12:30 am

      Blog almighty. What a response! I had someone ask me once – about a novel about 26-y-olds – did I ever think about making it young adult? No, I said, with no hesitation at all, at all. Did you hit your seriously intellectual friend over the head with a 32-pound pike?

      Liked by 1 person

  23. June 24, 2016 at 8:04 am

    This reminds me of one of my all time favourite reads: Ptolemy’s Gate, the third book in the Bartimaeus trilogy (it’s a sequence now since there’s a fourth prequel book). I read it first when I was 15. A friend of mine had given me an e-book version (holy shit, I was reading e-books 10 years ago ) and I loved it.

    A year ago I saw it on a roadside bookstall and immediately picked it up. Funny thing is this book has one of the most bittersweet endings I have ever read that still manages to get me all morose, nut it’s called a YA book.

    I am an adult and I still can’t deal with the emotions it slams me with. Hell I was down for like a week when I finished it as a teenager.

    But more specific to your point, I think that publisher put the YA label on any book they think will appeal to the broadest range of teenagers, who they can keep milking for years with sequels.

    It’s kinda like when comic book publishers try to get more people to read/buy their product by having some kind of big universe shattering event that’ll reset everything and let new readers dive in.

    But we that both of these things are bullshit from a sheep’s arse. They just want to be able to put in the least amount of effort and sell the most amount of books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 24, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Never a truer word spoken, Psycho. It’s all about the lowest common denominator for the least amount of effort… It’s dumbing down really, isn’t it?

      On another note, love the expression bullshit from a sheep’s arse! Never heard that before.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. June 24, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I began reading it so that I could screen what my kids wanted to read. I found that I enjoyed it. Of course, with choices like the Harry Potter series out there, it’s hard to resist. I’ve seen a trend where mainstream authors like John Grisham (Theodore Boone series), Harlan Coben (Mickey Bolitar series) and, to some extent, Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas series) are delving into the YA genre. None of them does it well, in my opinion, but the bar set by J.K. Rowling may be a bit high to compare them against.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 25, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Excellent point, Don. I wonder if it was those authors’ deliberate choice to market the younger series as YA, or their publishers. I’m sure they’d never tell…

      Liked by 1 person

  25. June 24, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Personally, I think the YA genre should go away and the books would be better marketed as mysteries, fantasy, thrillers, romances, etc. The “YA” designation seems solely designed for parents who want to be assured that a book has no explicit sex. But adults are sensitive to sex, violence, and profanity in their book choices as well. So what’s the difference? YA books often have younger protagonists and are shorter in length, yet even that doesn’t apply across the board, and if someone really cares about the protagonist’s age, the info is easily discernable from the book description. My biggest challenge with YA books is the romantic drama and angst. I lived it once and that was enough! I don’t read adult romances either for the same reason. But give me a Harry Potter any day 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      I must admit I don’t get what explicit sex or lack of has to do with the genre, Diana. I would no more expect there to be explicit sex in an adult fantasy, crime or romance novel than I would expect it to be in YA. Obviously I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some in the adult novel, whereas I would be surprised if it was in the YA novel, but for me it’s all to do with the age of the protagonist and nothing to do with the subject matter, which is why I’m kicking against it. Also, there’s a massive difference between what a 13-year-old can handle and what a 17-year-old can handle, so lumping them into the one category is insane in my book (pardon the pun).

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 25, 2016 at 9:28 pm

        Agree. I guess “explicit sex” wasn’t the right description, because you’re right, it would be an exception in most genres. 13 and 17 is a large maturity gap in terms of readers. I’m curious, in your mind, how do you define YA if it was up to you?

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 25, 2016 at 11:14 pm

          I suppose I wouldn’t at all. When I was a teenager, teen books seemed to be about things only teens were interested in. First kisses, making new friends, moving house, sibling rivalry, strict parenting. Not cancer, mortality, immortality, autism, alcoholism, depression, or abuse. I suppose I just have an issue with concepts which transcend age being classified in one clunky genre.

          Liked by 1 person

          • June 26, 2016 at 12:29 am

            An interesting problem, and I can see why you wrote about it. I suppose in the meantime, authors can define themselves by YA-subgenre. YA – fantasy or mystery or coming of age, etc. I actually think lots of books don’t fit into neat boxes, and the subgenre categories need to expand. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  26. June 24, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Harry Potter turned eleven at the beginning of book one, so technically, according to the marketing genre rules, it’s middle-grade all the way. Was Harry kept under the stairs as a baby? Magic eight ball says ‘signs point to yes’ which is a tad dark.

    But then you can’t get darker than a child forced to live in a cupboard being stalked by an evil psychopath who murdered his parents. In addition the kid is plagued by spiders the size of German Shepherds, death-eaters, a dirty great snake, classes in distilling poisons and killing curses. Did content dictate parental discretion? Apparently not. Kids seemed not to require therapy. So much for the necessity for middle-grade protection. Scores: story 10… genre 0.

    R.K. Rowling is such a phenomenal storyteller her series for characters who aged from ten to seventeen reached all of us. Kablooey went the genre. As well it should.

    Story is first and last. The latest generation of pre-teen readers are fortunate to be presented with books from authors who seem duty-bound to follow the higher standard of Rowling’s footsteps. No wonder we adults want to read stories that fit that genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 25, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      I remember reading the original Hans Christian Anderson (in translation obviously!) when I was about 9 or 10, Veronica, and really, you didn’t get darker than that. Birds, tin soldiers and mermaids killing themselves for love, only to be rejected for their sacrifice? Daaaaark! It’s like we’ve forgotten what used to happen before Disney sanitised experience. JK Rowling’s success saved us all from being total weaklings with no knowledge of the real world.


  27. June 25, 2016 at 6:35 am

    I loved reading Wonder recently. Yes, its terrible to pigeonhole (love your picture of sheep), but readers often seek books to read by genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 25, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Readers probably seek out book by genre more than anything else, Daal, this is true. It’s the sloppy pounding of stuff into the wrong genre that’s so tiresome.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. June 25, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I do read a fair amount of YA these days, partly because my son is an avid reader of it, partly because I rather enjoy it for all the reasons you suggest I should, and partly because my forthcoming novel was once rejected very kindly by a publisher who explained that though she and her reading panel all liked it, they didn’t publish YA. This sent me on a quest to figure out just what might have made them consider it such. The answer seemed to be that the primary character is youngish through a good portion of the novel, which is also true in a great many novels that are not considered YA. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what defines the genre, though the publisher that did eventually accept my novel assures me it’s not YA. She’d rather market it as Western Fiction, I suppose because of its notable lack of horses, cowboys, or train robberies, and its intimate relationship to its setting in the Eastern US. This is why I have decided to leave the genre classification to the publisher types. It’s all so frustrating. And it’s more of a rant than an answer to your question, but sometimes rants happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 25, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      My reading would be that the first publisher was absolutely the wrong fit for your novel, Sarah. But then you found the right one. I think just like finding the right agent who loves your book enough to sell it, your publisher needs to feel right about the marketing plan to market it. Fingers crossed the end result is right for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. June 27, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    YA should be outlawed, banned or burnt at the stake. There is a whole load of utter drivel out there that gets away with its ridiculously unthought-out plots, cardboard cut-out characters, and predictable, pre-digested reactions to predicable situations with the excuse that it’s written for minors. Some of the greatest books ever written have been for kids under voting age, but written to the same literary standards as novels written for adults. Stop serving teenagers slop and give them real literary feasts about the world they live in ie don’t bang on about marital strife, mortgages, the boredom of working for the post office, or sausage-making. Give them loads of fun sex, parties, colourful language and imaginary worlds, societies and peoples. Treat them like intelligent human beings not Barbie dolls looking for the next bargain in the sales. I write stuff that’s called YA btw and I hate the label.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 27, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      Well said, Jane! Will it fit into a marketing plan, I wonder? The one-size-fits-all kind? I wonder if it’s lack of ability, or lack of interest which drives them.


      • June 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        If authors write shite it’s because they can’t write any better. If agents and publishers coo and crow over shite it’s because they think they know just the kind of undemanding punters who will buy it. The sad thing is, I’m sure they do.

        Liked by 1 person

  30. Liberty On the Lighter Side
    November 4, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I see this is an old post but I found it because it relates to the one you wrote today and feel compelled to comment! The first time I read a YA book was when I borrowed one in error from the Wexford library when we arrived here 12 years ago from South Africa. We didn’t have a YA section in SA then (not sure about now) so I hadn’t heard of the genre. I did enjoy the book though. The book I am reading now I found in the adult Fiction (Where the Streets had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah) but it should be in the YA section. Unfortunately I hadn’t read the entire jacket when I borrowed the book as this is what it says somewhere on the back: ‘The book will …appeal to teens who like stories about outsiders finding their place in the world’ 😀 😀 Typical!! I have to confess I am struggling a little with the juvenile view point but find the context interesting. So obviously there are no generalisations in the YA section, the good the bad and the ugly can be found there too. However, I have thought about this before and I think there is enormous value in having a section for YA. It is not possible for me to read every book before my kids do in order to vet the content. Films have age limits on them but books don’t. My mother caught me reading Harold Robbins when I was 11 but she may not have. There were other books my friends gave me though that I wished I had not read. I think it would have helped me knowing there was a section where I could ‘safely’ browse when I was in that age bracket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      I’m glad to say there was oodles of it when I was growing up, Liberty, just called by another name – I’m sorry it never found you! It’s been around forever, but I think it really came into its own in the 1970s, with the likes of Judy Blume, Paula Danziger and the Sweet Dreams series of teen fiction. SE Hinton first came out in the 1960s of course. It used to be shelved in the children’s section, but the marketing mafia got at it eventually and decreed that no self-respecting teenager (or adult) would read a children’s book, so they started calling it young adult instead – which of course had to go the acronym route eventually. But it’s nothing new. The protagonists might be a little more bad-ass nowadays, though. As for the more adult adult fiction, I think we all read stuff we shouldn’t have in our teens. I certainly did. There were a few books I put down because they were just too much, but not many 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liberty On the Lighter Side
        November 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm

        Thanks for filling me in, I was thinking about the Sweet Dreams series only recently, (I hate to admit I used to reread all the kissing pages) and I’m in no hurry to introduce them to my daughter 😀 I was a little desperate to have a boyfriend then!

        Liked by 1 person

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