YA as a genre is not necessarily my favorite all the time, but a good chunk of my reads would fall into this category. Why? Because I want to read things that I enjoy. While that maybe tough literary classics at times, most of the time, I prefer easy, breezy reads that are action packed and include a great deal of fantasy and magic. YA offers me just that, but that doesn’t mean that reading YA books as an adult doesn’t come with its challenges.
Reading YA as an adult
Before we get to those challenges, I’d like to say a little more about why I like to read YA and YA fantasy in particular. Most adult fantasy books I find to be quite dense and problematic. They can be quite bad in terms of representation and are filled with racism, sexism and many other isms one may think of. In YA fantasy women are almost overrepresented, but I kind of like that. Many of the books I read and enjoy include fierce strong women who aren’t without their flaws. And I terribly enjoy that.
I love a good character driven story, but if I want a book that is easy to read and more plot driven than YA anything kind of takes the cake. Many of the YA books I’ve read are action packed and include fun, jokey dialogue and easy banter between characters. The best example of these qualities is the Lockwood & Co series by Jonathan Stroud. Those books have all the qualities of a great YA book if you ask me.
My third and final reason to enjoy YA is the escapism it offers. Since the plots are easy to get into, they take you to completely different worlds in an instant. There is hardly any need to grow accustomed to characters or the plot. Usually you can just dive right in. It makes for quick reads that are enthralling and true page turners that always keep me pressing for one more page or chapter. I am only able to read more because YA makes up a good chunk of my reading experience.
Now for some of the challenges I have found with YA and I’m gonna hit it out of the park straight away: it’s a little too easy for me sometimes. Yes it’s quick and easy, but sometimes that can also be quite tiring. This is why I change it up every so often and still include adult fiction and some literature. It can be very rewarding and satisfying to do a deep dive on an emotionally complex level and that is what I find many YA stories lack.
As action packed the YA plots usually are, character development can be a little lacking, predictable or just tiresome altogether. Every genre will have its themes and tropes, but in YA this pretty much takes the cake. You will be able to guess the outcome of a story before you’re halfway through (at least I usually can) and many of the plots follow very similar, well-beaten outlines. This means that many YA books can make you feel like you’ve read it all before. A little more variety would be great.
Finally, there is the love interest. This seems a must have in YA books, and while I get it from a teenager/ young adult perspective it’s not one that I as an adult always enjoy. The romance is usually laid on pretty thick. Sex scenes are either avoided or too cheesy to be enjoyable and many of the descriptions of a potential love interest are extremely cringe worthy most of the time. It’s why I often merely skim over these parts rather than read them.
Still, at the end of the day I like a good YA novel. I am currently reading the first book from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor and am thoroughly enjoying it. It makes for some variety in the reading schedule and that is something I truly enjoy.
Do you read YA as an adult?