Wild Things: YA Grown-Up discussion

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message 1: by Joann (new)

Joann (joann_l) The question I pose is simple. Why is there a genre known as young adult?

This is a sincere question. I am an older woman, reading since I was three. I am married. I do not have children. I don't remember that there was such a category or genre until 10 or 15 years ago. I have read a number of novels classified as young adult. I had no idea that many so were so classified and I wonder why.

What is the purpose? Obviously there must be one. Are there 'rules' or certain strictures to abide by?

What constitutes a work as young adult? Why is it different from adult and children's fiction?

It may be because I don't have children and I always have and still do read anything including the backs of cereal boxes without being guided, but again, what is 'young adult' and why is it considered a separate genre?


Cheryl struggles to catch up (cherylllr) I've assumed it's at least partly a marketing strategy. Good teen readers might think children's books are too young for them. They want something a little more intense, a little spicier. But lots of adult fiction has such mature content parents wouldn't want their teens to read it. Also there's lots of just plain bigger books on the adult shelves, and books with less plot, books that are more 'literary.'

I bet teens like having stuff written especially for them.


message 3: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I don't know that there are rules, per se, although I could be showing my ignorance here. I personally consider anything written with a pre-teen to teen age group in mind to be young adult. So, say, 10-18ish.

It's true that there didn't used to be a YA genre, because I don't think it was needed before. But now, with kids on the computer and in front of the TV either watching or playing video games, I think that there had to be something done to bring books back into the arena for entertainment, and YA has had a huge resurgence in the past 10-15 years. Kids aren't readers like they used to be. I, like you, am an almost compulsive reader. I'm never NOT reading, even if what I'm reading is the ingredients of a mac & cheese box while making dinner... But a lot of people don't have that mindset, and so YA is a kind of help to get kids interested in reading something that's for them...

I think that kids and teens like having a genre of books marketed and intended just for them. Of course, adults (like me) still read it, but it's not really INTENDED for me. I just still enjoy it. :)

Plus, I think that it also helps to guide parents, who more than ever are watch-dogs of what their kids watch, play, read and do, as to acceptable reading material. Having a YA tag is an easy indicator that it would be age appropriate. A help, not a free pass, but that's up to the parent.

Anyway.. that's just my off-the-cuff thoughts. I could be way off base. I'm not an expert. :)


message 4: by Joann (new)

Joann (joann_l) Why? I would think, recalling my teens that they would want to read 'adult' literature. What is 'mature content'? What we used to call 'the sexy parts'? And it seems to me that's there in abundance anyway.

I think you are right off the top...it's a marketing strategy. Does it really sell that well...ha! I guess it sure does. Is this also to just dumb everything down?


Angela Sunshine (angelasunshine) I agree that it's probably about marketing... With myspace, facebook, blogs, etc these days, there is not much a teen likes more than talking about themselves and their friends. Many YA books play right into that desire.

I'm an adult and love YA teeny bopper high school angst-ridden stories. I'm not sure I can say that for the majority of adult readers! Most people want to read books that they can relate to, and books in a "Young Adult" section of the library or bookstore let kids know that there are books for them, about them. Or, at least the friends they wish they had!

Plus, just the name alone just sounds better. If I were 15, I'd much rather shop in the Young Adult section than the Children's, or even the general Fiction section which runs the gamut of types and styles to have to dig through.


message 6: by Becky (last edited Jun 15, 2010 06:22AM) (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Joann, I'm confused, do you read YA? Or did you just want to question the genre of people who do?

I hope you don't think I'm being rude, I'm really curious as to the reason behind your questions. If you read the genre, you would be able to see that there is a very large difference in the writing, storytelling, the content, etc between YA and adult books, and even between YA books themselves.

YA has evolved into its own niche, with stories that are just as complex and wonderful as "adult" books, but told in an accessible manner for teens who haven't yet experienced the same things that adults have. I DON'T think that it's completely about marketing, although the GENRE itself probably evolved because of it. YA tends to have a kind of moral point, or offer guidance for learning to deal with problems and stress and what-have-you in a mature way. This is not true for ALL of them, some are purely entertainment and fluff just like "adult" books can be (think Chick Lit, etc), but the percentage of YA books with a purpose, even if it's subtle, is much higher than any other genre I've read.

If you think that YA is simply out there to "dumb everything down" I suggest you read some. That is most assuredly NOT the case. Making something accessible to a group of people doesn't equal "dumbing" it down. It's simply told in a different manner.

Regarding your point about teens wanting to read "adult" books, they do. But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't also have something of their own to read as well. I know of teens who are reading books that many adults I know can't/won't read, classics that even college educated adults struggle with. And yet they still read and enjoy YA.

I'm sorry if I sound a little defensive. It seems that YA is always picked on for some reason. But then maybe that's just because I read it and count myself among those "accused" of being incapable of reading "real" books. Which again is completely ridiculous.

I hope that you decide to read YA if you haven't already. You might be surprised at what it really is.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Why Young Adult? Hmm. Well, why Juvenile fiction? Why Mysteries? Why Historical fiction? I think it simplifies matters for teen readers. Here is a section of the bookstore or library that contains literature that is written for and about YOU.

Don't waste time roaming through the general fiction section if you're looking for books with a teen or a pre-teen protagonist, that addresses issues young adults grapple with on a daily basis. I think to some extent, it is a marketing strategy. I don't think that in any way demeans the genre. It's just a matter of steering teen readers to the shelves where they'll likely find something to intrigue them.

Now "dumbing down", that's a phrase I take issue with. I think if you pick up a young adult book such as The Book Thief, I Am the Messenger, Howl's Moving Castle, I Capture the Castle, heck the entire Harry Potter series - just to name a few, you'll quickly find out that these books are in no way "dumbed down". They are literature. Good stuff.

Interestingly, I'm 41, and there was a Young Adult section in my library when I was a teenager. So in my experience, YA isn't a new thing. I really gravitated to that section. I really just wanted to read about people who were going through the same things I was going through, learning lessons I was learning. Mostly, I read these books because they helped me to understand that if those characters could deal with "stuff", and make it, I could too.


message 8: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Well said Laura. I was thinking of those same books when I posted my last comment, Harry Potter and Zusak's in particular.

They are brilliant, genius books that transcend genre labels, as are many YA books.


message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Thank you Becky. They totally transcend the genre. There are many, many totally awesome books in the YA genre, as in every genre.


message 10: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) I'm honestly a bit tired of feeling like I have to defend my reading choices with some of the people in the GR community. So what I like romance, paranormal stuff, YA, fantasy, etc...that doesn't mean I'm dumb. I read the news, informative articles, text books, etc. too. I have two degrees, a designation, a respectable and well paying job and I continue to learn everyday. Just because I don't read classics all the time does not mean I don't use my brain cells. Sometimes we need to escape life for a bit and a vacation is just not feasible...so you pick up a book and travel to Egypt, New Orleans or even outer space. I don't see the harm in this or how this makes anyone better than me.


message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Well said Jackie.


message 12: by Kandice (new)

Kandice Hear hear!


message 13: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Not only the GR community, Jackie, but the READING community. Why people feel the need to put down other people's reading choices I will never understand.

I don't know if that was Joann's original intent, as she hasn't clarified her question, and her profile is private, so we can't get any kind of understanding about her from her profile or bookshelves.

But really, it is frustrating to feel attacked for reading what one likes.


message 14: by Kellee (new)

Kellee Moye (kelleemoye) I've been trying to figure out what to post here and I really think you guys did it all for me. And thank you Jackie for what you said, because I feel that same way- not only on GR, but also in life. YA is reputable. Back off. So, in other words. I am just going to say, "Ditto."


message 15: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) Thank you ladies.

Joann, I'm sorry if I come off as defensive or even a bit rude, but I take issue with this comment:
Joann wrote: "I think you are right off the top...it's a marketing strategy. Does it really sell that well...ha! I guess it sure does. Is this also to just dumb everything down?"

When you think about it everything is a marketing strategy...even GR is a marketing strategy for authors and publishers. The label YA may have start as a marketing strategy to steer teen readers to books that better pertain to them, but that does not mean the label dumbs the genre down or makes it less than "classic literature"...which by the way The Catcher in the Rye is consider both YA and classic literature. YA has been in existance for a long time, even if your particular library may not have had a section for it. Even now you can find books in both the YA and adult section, which means many books with the label have a broad appeal. I don't see how how a title dumbs anything down.


message 16: by Angela Sunshine (new)

Angela Sunshine (angelasunshine) Thanks, ladies, for explaining better what I was trying to get at with the marketing thing. Laura hit what I was trying to say about the kids knowing exactly where to find the stuff the want to read and not having to wade through mounds of generalized "fiction" first.

A good example of cross marketed books are the Study series by Maria V. Snyder. They were originally marketed for adults and then to YA later. My son read the whole series and loved it, and I've finished the first book and thought it was great too. All they did to gear it towards teens was add a younger, "hipper" cover, which is not dumbing down in my opinion. I prefer the cooler cover, myself.


message 17: by Laura (last edited Jun 15, 2010 09:06AM) (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I think the whole "dumbing down" phrase should be permanently retired. It not only insults the YA genre, but young adults themselves.

And if you are one, or if you have one in your life, you know that they are bright people who need literature that speaks to their needs.


message 18: by Laura (last edited Jun 15, 2010 09:10AM) (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I wasn't speaking to your comment, Angela, which was well stated, but rather the constant comparison of YA lit as being dumbed-down adult lit. Ridiculous, and the comparison IMO only proves the speaker's lack of experience with the genre.

I do think, Joann, that you might really like YA lit if you tried it.


message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy Yay Jackie! I definitely have issue with the phrase "dumbing down." I think YA books are geared towards a group of people that don't have as many life experiences. Many concepts that are in adult fiction would be over the heads of some YA readers. I know when I was in that age bracket, I was very naive and sheltered. I would not have wanted to read about things I had no first hand knowledge of. I feel that you should be able to read whatever you want as long as it's well balanced. I have issue with people who only read one type of genre and never venture out into anything else. I'm one of those, I"ll try it types. Then if I don't like it, I don't like it.


message 20: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Fiona wrote: "Firstly, moving this into a more suitable folder as this isn't part of a challenge.

Secondly, Joann, welcome to Wild Things - as you can see we're a passionate bunch here!

Thirdly, I think some g..."


Great post, Fiona, as always. Oop, didn't notice it was in the wrong category. *slaps self*

Oh Lord, I was reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th grade (when it had just come out - old, old, old!)

You make many great points. I've always thought of YA as a genre, but as you say, it technically isn't. More like a cross-section of many different genres. Calling it a genre may make it easier to discuss tho. Maybe that's why we tend to do it.

At any rate....yeah. Many cross-overs between YA and adult fiction and vice-versa. Some of the best stuff can be found, in either direction, in the cross-overs. IMO.


message 21: by Laura (last edited Jun 15, 2010 11:35AM) (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Good point! Hmm, a better marketing strategy to drop the label altogether. Maybe call it edgy fiction? That certainly applies, in most cases I think. But not all. So I guess that wouldn't work.

I think people have trouble because YA as a name inserts an age. Then people think if they're beyond that age, they wouldn't be interested in that whole set of novels anymore. I've actually read one juvenile fiction book twice in the past two years, it was so good. (And if it weren't for this group and Heather AKA mocha froth, I might have never discovered it! The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread)

And then that discovery led me to others, such as A Little Princess, etc., which I loved! It's really a shame when people put an age level on a category and then write all of those books off.


message 22: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Fiona wrote: "Tut tut Laura reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th Grade! I was about 16 I think."

It was the hottest thing - remember, it came out in '79. I was 11. Yup. Old. Not kidding! Those books were so hot, the covers were cool, they had these cool windows and you'd open it up and see the whole spooky scene underneath. Everyone was reading them! My mom probably would have croaked if she'd known.


message 23: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) If you think I believe that one...?


message 24: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) Laura wrote: "Fiona wrote: "Tut tut Laura reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th Grade! I was about 16 I think."

It was the hottest thing - remember, it came out in '79. I was 11. Yup. Old. Not kidding! Those..."


Man, at 11 I was too busy raiding the romance section for hunks with their shirts half off! I, obviously, have not changed much.


message 25: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Jackie wrote: "Laura wrote: "Fiona wrote: "Tut tut Laura reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th Grade! I was about 16 I think."

It was the hottest thing - remember, it came out in '79. I was 11. Yup. Old. Not..."


Have you read Flowers in the Attic? There were some pretty wild things going on there..lol. I don't even remember the details now, but I do remember some twisted stuff.

Here's two other books I read in 5th grade - Forever and Wifey. This is the reason why I used to pre-screen Ashley's books! I was evil!


message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Lord I don't have to, she's lived in a dorm for God's sake. Don't even take me there.


message 27: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) Laura wrote: "Have you read Flowers in the Attic? There were some pretty wild things going on there..lol. I don't even remember the details now, but I do remember some twisted stuff.

Here's two other books I read in 5th grade - Forever and Wifey. This is the reason why I used to pre-screen Ashley's books! I was evil!


No I haven't. Honestly the way people have talked about it makes me not want to read it, but at the same time I'm curious to know what the hoopla is about. Maybe one day I will.


message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Yeah, probably like my generation's Twilight. But more twisted.


message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I think I did too! I'd like to also, just to see...but I bet it wouldn't be nearly as good in a re-read. Would be fun to experience it tho.


message 30: by Kellee (last edited Jun 15, 2010 03:37PM) (new)

Kellee Moye (kelleemoye) Fiona wrote: "Tut tut Laura reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th Grade! I was about 16 I think."

Yeah- I read it in high school and it seemed so scandalous!! So, of course I loved it and read the ENTIRE series.

Fiona wrote: "I'd like to read Flowers again, just to see how... bad it is now. The weird thing is that I completely wanted them (you know who them is) to get together which is just wrong!...

I reread it and it isn't as bad as you'd think. It has a formula and it works. As for your second comment- I think everyone wanted them to get together, so don't feel yucky or wrong.

Laura- I cannot believe you read Forever AND Flowers in the Attic in 5th grade! I was still reading Baby-sitter's Club...


message 31: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I've never read Flowers in the Attic... I should do that one day. I already know who "them" is though of course... *shrug* kind of takes the fun out of experiencing it for the first time. Although i should know that that's never all there is.


message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Kellee wrote: "Fiona wrote: "Tut tut Laura reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th Grade! I was about 16 I think."

Yeah- I read it in high school and it seemed so scandalous!! So, of course I loved it and read the E..."


Yup, and don't forget Wifey, also by Judy Blume. Part of it was I loved her so much, but part of it was all the sex scenes. I was very curious. I remember making a white cover for the book so when I brought it home, no one would see the cover (risque in itself). I was a sneaky somebody!


message 33: by Angela Sunshine (new)

Angela Sunshine (angelasunshine) I just bought FITA the other day to reread it! Funny...

I remember thinking it was totally scandalous, and my mom would've definitely been pissed had she known. I must've been 9th grade.


message 34: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Becky wrote: "I've never read Flowers in the Attic... I should do that one day. I already know who "them" is though of course... *shrug* kind of takes the fun out of experiencing it for the first time. Although ..."

Petals on the Wind was the 2nd one and then If There Be Thorns....not sure if it went on. I devoured all of them. I remember buying one of the books on vacation. My parents never even looked at what I was reading. (But they really should have, I think!)


message 35: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Seeds of Yesterday and Garden of Shadows...hmm I never read those. 4th & 5th in the series.

Did you Fiona?


message 36: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Actually I take it back. Seeds cover is familiar, bet I read that too.


message 37: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) AngelaSunshine wrote: "I just bought FITA the other day to reread it! Funny...

I remember thinking it was totally scandalous, and my mom would've definitely been pissed had she known. I must've been 9th grade."


Oh totally. Mine had no clue. I was reading my older sister's Danielle Steele and Fern Michaels romances in middle school.


message 38: by Kellee (new)

Kellee Moye (kelleemoye) I read all five. Anyone else?


message 39: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I was allowed to read what I wanted as a kid. I can't think of a single time when my parents told me I couldn't read something. But I never gravitated toward sex in books, my thing was always gore.

And look how I turned out! *twitch*

:P


message 40: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Ludlum's book DO show that its someone else writing as him... so that's not THAT deceitful... I don't know about Andrews...


message 41: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I think I was so curious about sex because it was a real no-no in our house to discuss it (please, I was the youngest of nine, what else was going on in our house?). We didn't even use any of the words for body parts. Totally different in my house. Penis is a household word around here lol.


message 42: by Kellee (last edited Jun 15, 2010 03:57PM) (new)

Kellee Moye (kelleemoye) It's Andrews's daughter writing using her name- I'm pretty sure.


message 43: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) love the twitch!! lol


message 44: by Kellee (new)

Kellee Moye (kelleemoye) Becky wrote: "I was allowed to read what I wanted as a kid. I can't think of a single time when my parents told me I couldn't read something..."

Me too. It was nice to be able to make my own decision about books. I think it made me like reading more.


message 45: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) LOL We didn't really talk about it, but it wasn't taboo either. It was just kind of... understood. I don't know. My family was... young and kind of blase about a lot of things, and then my dad was really strict about a lot of other things (he was Navy)...

*shrug* What seems like normal...


message 46: by Angela Sunshine (new)

Angela Sunshine (angelasunshine) I read them all, but don't remember too many specifics beyond the "relations" the relations had. Haha... I crack myself up :)


message 47: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I totally screened my daughter's stuff - mainly because of all the stuff I was reading in 5th grade. Actually it started the summer after 5th grade for her when someone at camp gave her one of those Gossip Girls books. Um, no, I don't think my daughter needs to know how to perform oral sex just yet.

I brought that book to work and showed people there - other moms - they had no clue what was in those books.


message 48: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Fiona wrote: "Kellee wrote: "It's Andrews's daughter writing using her name- I'm pretty sure."

It's still a bit exploitative though. Write under some other name! Even if they do disclose that it is a ghost writ..."


Yeah, I agree there, but I suppose there's nothing to stop them unless there's a contract or something barring anyone else from the "intellectual property" but I'm not sure that's possible.


message 49: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I allow my kids to read whatever they want, but if it's questionable, I just read it too. My oldest (boy, almost 17) is not too keen on discussing "sex" stuff with me anymore, but the younger ones are, and he used to be, it's more of a "being embarassed around mom" thing than feeling he can't.

I read quite a bit I don't want to, just to keep abreast of my children's choices.


message 50: by vicki_girl (new)

vicki_girl | 157 comments From the Wikipedia article on V.C. Andrews...

"Her novels were so successful that after her death her estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to write more stories to be published under her name. In assessing a deficiency in her estate tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service argued (successfully) that Virginia Andrews' name was a valuable commercial asset, the value of which should be included in her gross estate."

Now that is disgusting. And no, they do not bother to put the "ghost writer's" name on the books. Out of all the books credited to her name, only 10 are known to be completely or mostly written by her.

At least with Ludlum, they put the actual author's name on the front. Ludlum's name is there too, but more like a "series creator", for example on The Bourne Legacy.




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