I’ve long yearned to write this, and now, Armchair BEA‘s topic of the day has given me an excuse.
GeekyLibrary reviewers have asked me, “Why can’t I categorize this as Young Adult?” In fact, they’ve been saying it ever since we reviewed Ender’s Game and I’ve mulishly said, “Because, I said so.”
Although Young Adult books can also be geeky books, YA doesn’t exist as one of the many genres (or sub-genres) a reviewer can pick from, which run the gamut from romance to non-fiction: history.
You can pick multiple genres, which is handy for those genre busters that seem to becoming more common, so having to pick YA over a different genre category isn’t the problem.
I just never added YA.
It isn’t because I’m a self-righteous Young Adult genre hater, either. I happen to like YA. We’ve certainly reviewed Young Adult on GeekyLibrary, from YA dystopias to YA fantasy.
The real reason is that I dislike categorizing books based on the supposed age group they should fit. We do have a growing youth section, but YA books appeal to a much broader range than the “young adult” label seems to imply. This is confirmed by the creation of the “New Adult” label, which I think is just starting to get ridiculous. What is next, “Middle-Age Adult” and “Retired Adult?” Will we go so far to split them up for “Geriatric Adult?”
Okay, probably not. But it could happen.
The popularity of so-called “Young Adult” books like The Hunger Games should prove that the labels are starting to become antiquated. Obviously, these books do not appeal to just pre-teens or teens, but a broad readership from all ages. We don’t really categorize movies this way (Back to the Future is a great YA movie!), although they are often marketed toward certain age groups. Why categorize books this way?
Really, I do get it. It’s nice to know what you like. It’s awesome to be able to head straight to your favorite section in the bookstore or the library. But there are genres within the YA genre— just because you like YA romance, doesn’t mean you’ll like YA science fiction.
I know there are people who won’t agree with me. Even strongly disagree with me.
And I’ll say again; I like YA books. I just don’t like the Young Adult label.
Market the books to young adult, write them for young adults, but think about it long and hard before categorizing them as young adults. I’d argue that in plenty of cases, it simply isn’t necessary.
Someday, the overwhelming popularity of young adult books will drive me to adding the label to the list of genres, but for now, vive La Résistance!
A genre should describe the book, not the readers.
Great Read! I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂
Wow! Great post! I love this! You’re so right!
Aw, well I totally think of YA as a genre and more than just an age, but perhaps there should be a different name for the kind of fiction YA is evolving into, to distance it from the age thing.
Fun rant. And, excellent points, in fact. There’s a certain role in labeling that helps parents choose age-appropriate books. But YA is not a “safe” label if that’s what you’re looking for, so it’s not much more than a marketing gimmick.
I was talking with a friend who works as a children’s librarian who was trying to say something similar, and she asked how young adults could find the books for them. I guess my response would be, but are those books just for them?
And yeah, its not that its safe.
Thanks all for responding! Its a good thought experiment and I enjoy hearing other people’s viewpoints.
Nice! I tend to agree with you. So many people avoid YA books just because of the label. When I was younger, there was no young adult. You went straight from Ramona the Pest to Stephen King.
When most of the genres are based on the content of the book, why is there a genre that is based on the reader?
But I guess there’s probably the question of appropriate content…
As a librarian I can’t even consider YA a “genre”, it’s not, it’s a marketing age group and even then it appeals more widely. YA to me is pretty much just that the characters will be in that age group. Within YA is all the genres – fantasy, science fiction, etc. Young Adult is just a marketing strategy, just like New Adult is suddenly a hot topic.
I’m so happy to have so much great discussion on this, I thought I was the only one who had issues with the label. I love to hear other viewpoints from readers.
You could miss out on so many amazing books if you only read what your age group should read.
@AH—Badass Book Reviews : I can see how jumping from Ramona to Stephen King is a bit of a stretch and might be the reason the YA genre developed. On the other hand, I liked reading so-called “adult books” when I was still a YA reader, so if it worked when you were younger, why not now.
@Kristen H—Bookgoil: Love hearing a librarian agree!