Never Too Old For Y.A. & N.A. Books discussion

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Opinions > What differentiates YA and Adult novels?

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message 1: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Casser | 13 comments I'm very confused.

It is clear that a book is YA if it has all of the following:
Teenage protagonist
High School Vocabulary
Easy to read text with short paragraphs and short chapters
Themes about life experiences typical to people under 25
Straightforward concepts
PG rating (I'm told an "R" rating makes it NA, but still not Adult)

But what if the vocabulary is college level and the concepts are complex? Does that disqualify the book as YA?

Or is a "coming of age" story automatically YA, regardless of other elements?

What do you think? When do you classify a story as Adult rather than YA?


message 2: by Mickey (last edited Jun 15, 2016 09:08AM) (new)

Mickey | 1 comments I don't think a more sophisticated vocabulary or complex themes would disqualify a work from being considered YA. Children's literature often have themes or words that are too sophisticated to be understood by their audience (although I often think they are "felt" instead of intellectualized. For instance, on a trip when I was eight or nine, we listened to George Orwell's Animal Farm on audiobook. I understood the unfairness of the situation that was depicted (kids are great at sniffing out injustice), but I knew nothing about communism or Russia and the various animals being a stand-in for a certain population would've confused me. But the story does work on both a children's level and an adult level.) There are many books that function like this. I would consider many children's books to also have sophisticated messages such as Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Children can feel the message, but they might be unable to articulate it. Where a book belongs as far as categories is an inexact science and should often be ignored by readers.

The nice thing is that individuals are not expected to worry themselves about where any particular book fits. Marketing will decide based on where they believe each book would be most successful, so there's no point in coming up with any system that would be sure to have many exceptions.


message 3: by L.S. (new)

L.S. May | 15 comments Some people seem to think that if the protagonist is a young adult, that automatically qualifies the book as YA, although I've heard there are exceptions to this in the form of 'adult' books with young protagonists.

There are some things most books in the genre have - fast paced, a romantic subplot etc. but in the end I do think it comes down to marketing. Since Harry Potter, the YA market has been huge, so if publishers can get away with it, they'll market a book that way.


message 4: by Claudia (last edited Jun 15, 2016 02:44PM) (new)

Claudia Casser | 13 comments L.S. wrote: "Some people seem to think that if the protagonist is a young adult, that automatically qualifies the book as YA, although I've heard there are exceptions to this in the form of 'adult' books with y..."

Do you have examples of the "adult" books with young protagonists? I'd be interested to see what made them "adult."


message 5: by L.S. (new)

L.S. May | 15 comments Claudia wrote: "L.S. wrote: "Some people seem to think that if the protagonist is a young adult, that automatically qualifies the book as YA, although I've heard there are exceptions to this in the form of 'adult'..."

Lazy answer: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/13...


message 6: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Casser | 13 comments L.S. wrote: "Claudia wrote: "L.S. wrote: "Some people seem to think that if the protagonist is a young adult, that automatically qualifies the book as YA, although I've heard there are exceptins to this in the..." http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/13...

Of the ten or so books on that list that I've read, I 'd call them YA, except maybe Lord of the Flies (though I read that in junior high). Maybe "crossovers," like the Orson Scott Card books. Certainly Diary of Anne Frank, Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are YA?


message 7: by L.S. (new)

L.S. May | 15 comments Again, I think it comes down to the marketing. Young adult as a real category only really began during the 50s and 60s, so a lot of the older books were marketed as adult initially. They were written with adult audiences in mind, so, at the very least, their authors considered them adult.

Diary of Anne Frank is an interesting one. Obviously it has some very adult themes. The cynic in me suggests that people who are 'too mature' for YA call it adult so they don't have to feel bad about reading it, but it could also be that it appeals to adults as much if not more than it does to teens.


message 8: by Lady Echo (new)

Lady Echo (ladyecho) | 1 comments Stephen King's Carrie is an adult book with a teenage protagonist.


message 9: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Casser | 13 comments L.S. wrote: "Diary of Anne Frank is an interesting one. Obviously it has some very adult themes. "

But Diary of Anne Frank is not fiction.


message 10: by L.S. (new)

L.S. May | 15 comments Claudia wrote: "L.S. wrote: "Diary of Anne Frank is an interesting one. Obviously it has some very adult themes. "

But Diary of Anne Frank is not fiction."


No. It's not. I'm not sure what your point is? Sometimes 'adult' things affect young people.


message 11: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Casser | 13 comments L.S. wrote: "Claudia wrote: "L.S. wrote: "Diary of Anne Frank is an interesting one. Obviously it has some very adult themes. "

But Diary of Anne Frank is not fiction."

No. It's not. I'm not sure what your p..."


Oh, it was on the list of fiction to which you referred, and fiction is what I thought we were discussing. I never thought about YA autobiography or memoir.


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