Monday, August 9, 2010

Adult Fiction vs. YA Fiction

I am 18 years old. Well, not for much longer. My 19th is less than a month away. But still. I'm kind of in the awkward phase of late teen-hood, early adulthood. I'm done high school, I've experienced the melting-away of most of my high school friends (wherein I realized that the only thing we had in common was attendance of the same high school), the breakdown of any kind of routine my life had hadl, but I'm not yet at a point where I know what the fuck I'm doing.

There isn't really an age range of literature devoted to people like me (unless you count this New Adult thing that is apparently on its way up - but I haven't seen much of that yet). So I have to options: read adult lit, or YA lit.

When I was in high school, I was kind of an elitist intellectual. I was known throughout my small town for dramatic hair cuts, crazy hair colours, ripped tights and Doc Martens, and I often wore t-shirts with George Orwell or Leo Tolstoy's portraits on them. Yeah, I was kind of a douche that way. But anyway, I read a lot. This was before I had to get a job and had a ton of free time.

I read mostly adult fiction when I was in high school. Some YA, but not much. Because I was such a conceited douchebag, I kind of considered myself to be above reading about high school.

But now that I'm out of the mindless vacuum of adolescent stupidity (well, mostly out of it), I vastly prefer YA. You know why that is?

Because I'm scared of the world. Now that I've basically been turned loose in it and been told to "find my own way," I don't want to. I want to be back inside those safe cinderblock walls, still incubating, still getting ready for adulthood. Because, fuck, I'm not ready. Reading YA helps me revert back to a time when I was having fun, when I could stay up all night long and do whatever I wanted, when I didn't have to do stupid shit like have a job.

Adult literature is too much for me, now. When I was in high school and didn't have to worry about all these big ideas and questions (What am I going to do with my life? Will I have enough money in the bank for my car insurance next week? What political party should I vote for this election?), I had the mental capacity to read really high-brow literature and ponder the state of humanity.

That's what the debate of Adult Lit vs. YA Lit comes down to for me. Adult lit was perfect for a time when I wanted to expand my horizons, read stuff that made me think about politics, about the human condition, stuff that had all these layers of meaning and symbolism and cryptic shit.

These days, when I want to return to a simpler time, I turn to YA lit. Because it's fun. It's honest. It's straight-up. It doesn't lie to you or depress you or worry you. It doesn't get all high and mighty and "ooooh, look how literary I'm being, I'm using a symbol."

I'm not knocking YA. I'm not knocking adult lit, because hell, some of my very favourite books have been adult books. I'm just saying there has been a time and place for me. And right now, even though I'm getting to be past the target range, the time is right for YA.


  1. I'm 25 and I'm still not at the point in my life where I know what the fuck I'm doing.

    I wish we had YA books as wonderful as the ones being published now 10 years ago. I mean, there were some good ones, but nowhere near as many. I just love the character-driven, all-emotions, rawness of YA. It's hard to find that in adult lit.

  2. Yes, yes, yes. The rawness and honesty is what I really love about YA. There's no bullshit. I'm so glad YA has become what it has become.

  3. I agree with you completely. I'm 18, going to college, and freaking love YA. I hate that I've started to think "oh, should I start picking more out of the adult fiction now?" because YA is so awesome. I think people can easily balance it and with what YA's become today, it's definitely more polished and accepted :) Woo hoo YA! hahah (by the way, just found your blog and love it!)

  4. Thank you, KT! And yeah, whoo YA! I just think it has so much more to offer character-wise, and it's often way more optimistic than adult lit, too.