Sunday, June 10, 2012
Discussion Post: YA Novels and the People Who Read Them
Because I am no longer a "Young Adult" I tend to skip over that particular section in the bookstore, which never bothered me before. I had and still have plenty to choose from in the adult romance section, I love me some steamy, angst ridden love stories that take place in a world unlike ours. However, lately I have been rethinking my perusing skills because of books like The Raie' Chaelia and The Firelight of Maalda by Melissa Douthit and Taste by Kate Evangelista. Both books are targeted at young adults but are so well written that adults like myself can enjoy them.
Let's be honest, one of the reasons I avoided YA novels was because I thought they would all be filled with melodramatic teeny bopper attitudes and ridiculous dialogue that only teens of today could understand (Wow did I just sound like my mother there?). This may sound strange coming from someone who loved the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer and I could argue that the series is not as recent as other YA novels are so I could still, on some levels relate to the ALL the characters in Meyer's series, but the fact of the matter is that Twilight was a fluke for me. I picked it up because that was all I was hearing about at the time and I HATE being left out of book conversations. Had the hype not been so intense I would have continued to ignore it because it was considered a YA novel and I was no longer a teen.
So fast forward to about two months, I am asked by Melissa Douthit to review her YA novel, The Raie'Chaelia and I agree. This is my first author requested review and I was not going to say "no" just because YA isn't my preference. I began reading The Raie'Chaelia and was enchanted, no pun intended, by the fantasy world that Melissa created and its characters, including the young protagonist, Chalice. There were no epic teen tantrums thrown by Chalice, nor any snotty behaviors. Sure, she was a teen but as soon as she found herself in danger, she conducted herself as a smart, brave and trustworthy character. No pity parties or "I'm Special, Bow to Me" moments. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to read and review the second book of the series, The Firelight of Maalda.
The same is true for Kate Evangelista's heroine from Taste, Phoenix. Sure, she has her bratty moments complete with tantrums, stubbornness and back talking but when things go down, Phoenix put aside her teenage issues and became an adult. That's one of the reasons that kept me reading both YA novels and in the end, I loved the stories, characters and the authors themselves, talented ladies that they are (and so friendly too).
It seems that in the last 5 years, the demand for YA novels has heavily increased due to books like Twilight and The Hunger Games and it's easy for up and coming authors to get lost among the more established writers, but thank goodness for book blogs and social media or else we wouldn't have such a wide variety from which to choose our next adventure.
The label "Young Adult Novel" tends to discourage older readers from checking out really good books and it shouldn't. There are so many wonderful stories in the YA section of your local bookstore that deserve to be enjoyed by more than just teens, and despite what ignorant people like Joel Stein of the New York Times says, reading YA Novels does not mean you're stupid or that you should be embarrassed. It just means you're not judgmental and can more than likely carry on a lively conversation with your friends' kids and maybe even your own. After all, how many times do we hear teens say that we adults are "old" and "totally uncool?" If you can talk to them about what they find "cool" then they're more likely to listen to your opinion on other matters that are far more important aren't they?
Chew on that for awhile.
Besides, if I met a man who had his own mind and read and could discuss the adult themes in Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games with me, then there's a possibility I might have found a keeper right? Would it be too much to hope that he's open minded about reading adult romance too? *sigh*
So, be your own judge when it comes to YA novels, or any books for that matter. Don't be a book snob like I was just because you're no longer in high school, and just because it's on the Best Seller's List doesn't mean it's a good book for you. Remember, you don't have to like it just because everyone else does, or because people like Mr. Stein declare that it's an "Adult Book" or even because it's from "Author So and So" whom all the critics love. There are tons of unrecognized gems out there, find your own.
If it hadn't been for The Raie'Chaelia, The Firelight of Maalda and Taste then I might have continued to skip the YA section at the bookstore, and what a shame that would have been because there truly are some great YA novels out there that can also be enjoyed by older audiences.
Tell me, what are some of your favorite YA Novels and why? Or if you haven't read one yet (or in a while), what has stopped you from doing so?