Friday, March 8, 2013

Why I Love YA

Earlier in the week I posted about the things which bug me in YA books and now I need to even the score by addressing what I love. 

1) The process. Yes, authors have to be creative to write but by creative I mean everything involved in bringing the book to life. The all-important cover art, the blurb, the tagline, the editing and the story. There's a process involved and I really love seeing the cover reveals, getting buzzed about upcoming releases, reading blurbs and thinking "Have to read that" and finally reading the actual story. There's something about bringing a YA novel full circle that's simply exciting. 

2) The creativity and talent. Since I began reading YA back in the late nineties, it has exploded. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Mortal Instruments, the outstanding titles continue to grow. They are well-written, creative, and worthy of the love readers like to share. Genres also continue to boast great works from dystopian, paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi to contemporary, romance, horror etc. Do I need to say more? The authors behind these titles and many more make the reading experience fun, thrilling, sad, melancholy--ultimately, memorable. 

3) The mix. The 'mix' you wonder? The mix of traditional, independent and self-published titles available on the market today is tremendous. My Kindle holds a huge combination of this trio of books by various authors. There are many new authors I've learned about from other bloggers, from the authors themselves, from Goodreads, book lists, the sources vary and are numerous. Publishing has changed tremendously and the ch-ch-changes haven't ended. 

4) The innocence. YA authors capture the spark, the burn, the feel of innocence from a first kiss to awakening of desire to a first dance/prom to learning about betrayal or how powerful one can be if belief is involved and more. Innocence is something we only have once and when it's tarnished, destroyed, taken away, there's no way of getting it back, but we can relive it by reading. 

5) The romance. See below.

“We stand there for a moment, staring at each other, savoring it. And then all at once, we slam together. Mia's legs are off the ground, wrapped around my waist, her hands dipping in my hair, my hands tangled in hers. And our lips. There isn't enough skin, enough spit, enough time, for the lost years that our lips are trying to make up for as they find each other. We kiss. The electric current switches to high. The lights throughout all of Brooklyn must be surging.” 

― Gayle Forman, Where She Went

Romance in YA is fresh/new/addicting/powerful. Adult romance can be exciting as well, but there's something special almost magical about falling in love in YA. I'm also seeing this in some of the New Adult titles I've read.

6)Brevity. YA tends to not be bogged down by paragraph after paragraph of description or long-winded dialogue or blocks of action or world building. Due to the age group the stories are being marketed to, some common tropes we see in adult fiction are parred down and I don't miss it. In fact, from reading so much YA, when I find myself trapped in an adult book which suffers from "too much" of something, I scan it and wonder why the author didn't catch that overload in the first place. Often times, as adults, we tend to write too much about a subject without realizing it. Or maybe we like to hear ourselves on the page.

7) The high school days. I read YA primarily for the fantastical tales and yet high school still plays a part in these stories as well. From public to parochial to boarding schools (and an occasional home schooling), educational institutions are rife for setting all different types of scenes. How did Edward first see Bella? Didn't he first 'smell' her as she walked by the fan in their shared science class? So much of what happens in my favorite YA series, Vampire Academy, happens to Rose on the school grounds. Dystopians take education up a notch in vivid imaginings of what could be. Contemporaries show us what it's like and sci-fi show us what happens 'out there'. Whatever the locale may be, the school experience is universal and we still enjoy it. 

8) The list of 'firsts.' This may mention some things from #4 about innocence. The first anything is monumental. It could be horrible but we still remember it. It may be wonderful too. No matter what the outcome of a first crush, love, kiss, sexual experience, dance, prom, concert, drive, ticket, fight--the list is endless and they all share a common trait. If it's a 'first' it is unforgettable

9) The struggle for independence. Living at home, yearning for freedom, for space, for expression, as a teen grows up the need to leave the nest, either for school or just to move out, is inevitable. Moving on is a part of life.

10) Learning about others. As one person there is just so much I can do in one lifetime but when I read YA, I read about the lives of others. Their talents, their problems, their lives, them. It's social networking in a fictional sense with gossip, romance, action and much more tossed in the mix. And it's fun. Whether it be something real like playing in the school band or something make believe like dating a werewolf, we get a glimpse at someone else's life for a couple hundred pages.

11) The teen experience. The angst. The anger. The feelings. So many emotions run rampant through the teen years--let's not forget the hormones too--and authors are so good at bringing these feelings to life (again). Teen readers can realize they are not alone and older readers can relive their past.

12) Controversial. YA authors bring to light the topics others shy away from. Bullying, bulimia, rape, addiction, discrimination, sexual choice, the list continues. We need Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Myracle, John Green, and the others who tell it like it is. We need realism and honesty and the authors who tell their stories do so because they respect teenagers.

13) I love YA because it's YA. I can't fully explain it. I don't need to. I'm the adult who drags my teen daughter to a book signing so I can have my books signed by authors I enjoy. Yes, I'm a closet Gayle Forman fan. Have you read If I Go or Where She Went? You will understand if you did. Okay then, case closed. I read YA. I write YA. I love YA.

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