I read an interesting post on The First Novel’s Club yesterday titled “In Defense of Hush, Hush.”
It got me thinking and I’ve been pondering the impact of adult readers on young adult literature. I enjoy reading YA but if I wasn’t a public Librarian I wouldn’t read it nearly as often. I’m an adult and I enjoy adult novels but I believe a good YA novel has a lot to offer.
However, I find the trend of adult women pining for young adult characters odd… maybe even a little disturbing. After all, an adult pining over a handsome teen in reality is socially taboo (and morally askew). So why is that so many women openly ‘love’ (or more appropriately lust after) Edward and Jacob (Twilight), Patch (Hush, Hush), and others?
Is it that these characters are actually ‘older’ than a normal teen? They are, after all, usually immortal. Can it be explained away as nostalgia and does that justify the frenzy (especially over Twilight)? Do women long for more simplistic romantic figures or bad boys or… what?
I don’t mean to sound prudish. I have pined over characters from literature… but they have been adult figures with adult complexities: Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), Sir Percy (The Scarlett Pimpernel), Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings). There is certainly an element of escapism there but even as a teen, I desired to read about more complex men then the boys who attended my school. Yet, recent trends in YA literature have shown teen boys to be manipulative hunks who engage in risky behavior and whose main allure is their unattainability. Not good boyfriend material… and not good partner material.
So what do you think? Why do you read YA literature (pleasure or business) and what do you think of the recent trends (especially in fantasy YA)? Am I overreacting or should I be concerned about this?
I just read an article on the LA Times website titled “Young Adult Lit Comes of Age” that states:
YA books are “more vibrant” than many adult titles, “with better plots, better characterizations, a more complete creation of a world.” (Lizzie Skurnick, 36, author of “Shelf Discovery”)
To a degree, Skurnick is right. There are a lot of lousy adult novels (popular one too). But there are also really lousy YA novels (and yes, they often reach insane levels of popularity *ahem* Twilight, Shiver, Maximum Ride)
But is there a YA social satire that can stand up next to an Austen? Is there a YA novel with same level of vivid description as a Dicken’s novel? The sparse beauty of Hemingway? Haunting poems to rival Dickenson?
Can the best of YA stand up with the best of adult? Should I give the genre more time, after all, there are greats like Alexie and Joyce Carol Oates stepping into the field.
Can an adult truly appreciate a YA novel? Can a young adult truly appreciate an adult novel? Questions about the act of reading (aithor intent, reader-response) are running through my mind…