Young Adult, or YA, fiction is not a genre. It’s more like a designation, sort of like stating that something is a children’s book. I’ve read a few of the classic children’s/YA titles when I was younger like, Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer, and The Outsiders. And then, I dunno. I sort of grew out of it and moved on to Dean Koontz and Dan Brown and a lot of other suspense/thriller titles, actually.It wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I went back to take a look at what YA had to offer because, well, I really wanted to read something different. I read a lot of manga, so it’s a bit surprising that I wasn’t into YA novels earlier. Though, admittedly, most of the popular YA novels were more along the lines of Gossip Girl and I wasn’t in the mood to read about high school drama. I had enough of that. I noticed the covers to Twilight and it was appealing, despite me not knowing a thing about what the books were about, but I knew I liked vampires and the books were thick so I gave them a try.
I’m sort of ashamed to say that I got hooked. I’m not sure what it was about the books that made me scrambling for the next. Maybe it was the love triangle that mirrored some of the eye-roll inducing love triangles that I read in the mangas or maybe I was sitting around wondering what Bella saw in a vampire that, dare I say it?, sparkled. (I do remember throwing a hissy fit over this before reading on.) I’m actually sort of glad they made the movies. The movies are just so cheesy and terribly done that they made me stop and really look back at what in the world I just read. But that’s all behind us now and we’ll just say that it was because I was naive and seventeen.At the same time, I’m really glad I read Twilight. It made me want to take the chance on other YA novels and really take a look at what it was offering. Ironically, despite me busy reading suspense/thriller novels, I was already hard at work on The Chosen and wasn’t even aware that what I was writing was considered YA (admittedly, some people think it’s more middle-grade or MG, but it all depends on what you deem is middle-grade and young adult). I think because I kept seeing the high school drama books on the best seller lists, I wasn’t even aware of all the other wonderful YA novels there were out there that dealt with some of the darker issues that teens face.
Now that I’m aware that YA isn’t a genre and offers so much more, I’m more apt to grab a book and take a chance on it. I love the fairy retellings that are being published. I don’t like what it’s done to the paranormal genre. The first loves are really sweet to read about and I love the fantasy adventures that are a bit more girl centric (I still love to read boy centric fantasy adventures, don’t get me wrong!) Will I stop reading mainstream novels? No. But I am and will be continuing to read more YA novels not just to keep up with what’s going on in the industry, but for their refreshing voices and resiliency that you don’t see a lot in mainstream novels.