Often when people hear about Young Adult books, they think of Twilight, The Hunger Games, or a multitude of other popular books that were made into movies. While these are still great examples of “classic” YA, there’s a misconception that YA is just for lovesick teenagers. Another common misconception is that Young Adult literature is a genre, however it is a category marketed toward teenagers with a wide variety of genres such as fantasy, contemporary, dystopian, mystery and science-fiction, just to name a few.
Some of you might wonder why a girl in her twenties is picking up books typically marketed toward those aged 13-18. Firstly, while the target market of YA is that age bracket, a study in 2012 revealed that 55% of buyers were 18 years or older. Additionally, many YA books tackle serious issues and have just as much literary merit as adult fiction.
Young adult novels often feature coming of age stories and often explore themes such as friendship, first love, relationships and identity and like other categories of fiction, YA explores a wide variety of topics including those with a more serious tone. For example; Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series explores themes of war and genocide, and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give tackles racism and police brutality in America.
Some of the current trends and issues surrounding YA books today are two sides of the same coin: diversity and representation.
In the YA book community, trends often follow issues and in recent years, there been a trend of discussing the importance of diversity and representation in YA books and it has recently gained momentum. The We Need Diverse Books initiative was formed in 2014 which helped boost this momentum and led to a push for more diversity, representation and inclusiveness in YA literature. WNDB defines diversity as “all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of colour, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”.
While discussing diversity in YA books is a current “trend”, the lack of diversity and representation is also one of the bigger issues currently surrounding YA books. In addition to the lack of diversity, many have raised questions about the people who are writing diverse books in the first place and in 2015, the #OwnVoices hashtag was created by Corrine Duyvis to define marginalised characters written by authors of that same marginalisation. Having a kick-ass straight, white heroine can still be fun to read about, but it’s important that all YA readers (and any reader, really) get to see themselves represented.
Finally, it is important we understand that diversity in YA should not be considered a “trend” rather than a true representation of what society is and this blog aims to discuss such topics like diversity in YA in addition to discussing books and other current topics surrounding YA books.