Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Young Adult and Teen Tuesday!

It's Tuesday and the YATT meme is hosted by S.A. Larsen at Writer's Ally. Yay!

I'm going to slip in a little post here this morning about Young Adult lit. I've been contemplating the differences between young adult lit versus books you read as a young adult. There are just a few things that puzzle me about the distinction.

See, I read "Of Mice and Men" when I was young, but I wouldn't consider that a "Young Adult" book. But, is it? Also, it's apparent to me that just because a protagonist is a youth does not make the book a YA book.

I'm sure someone out there much smarter than me has a wonderful, textbook answer for me and I'm hoping you'll leave it in the comments.

What I see as YA lit is defined by what you can and can't do with the characters. In YA, fantasy is much more acceptable, animals figure largely (or rather, IF they figure largely, it's considered YA... another confusing point), and the protagonists are often (though not always) in the YA age range of 15-24.

In "Adult" lit... I feel like there's a lot more pretended "realism" (although I know there's a lot of sci-fi/fantasy going on out there in adult lit), and more sex and violence. But this just seems disappointing to me. Also, I'm sure there's a lot more "thematically" to it than this.

And so I'm wondering where YOU draw the line.

Are there any of your beloved books that seem to defy definition?


  1. I could do without all the sex and violence in adult fiction. I really don't know any technical definition for each genre. I guess I'm just a kid at heart but I seem to enjoy the YA much more.

  2. A lot of agents point to voice as the determining factor for YA vs. Adult lit. For YA, it needs to be very focused on the teen aged protag, much like a teenager would be. It also requires that the protag be a teen as well (so, "Of Mice and Men" is right out, though it is a story designed to teach people about being an adult).
    As for the drugs sex violence thing, I see it both ways. I've seen adult fiction watered down trying to avoid these things, and I've seen YA fiction so full of sex it makes me blush, so I don't think that's a very good determination of whether or not a book is YA or not.
    In short, go with your gut.
    Agent Natalie has covered the YA versus adult thing here.

  3. this is a great question - high school curriculum really doesn't cover YA, but it's written for teens...

    i think the baseline answer has to do with who the intended audience is, and a young adult being the protag is a must.

  4. I've fallen in love with YA because it has all the tension and excitement but a lot less of the violence and sex but most important, for me, is that it doesn't have that jaded view of the world that you frequently see in adult, especially literary. Most YA still has a clear character arc and a happy ending, and I love happy endings.

    The technical definition I've heard for YA is that it is specifically written for teens. Of Mice and Men was written for a general audience.


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