Book Review

Discussing YA

I have a friend and she does a book club on Facebook (the one I read Stalking Jack the Ripper for) and she posted a discussion question. This is horrible but I never take part in these, I answer them in my head, read what others think and scurry along.

This time the discussion was about YA. Now I’m not going to disclose it all that doesn’t feel right and just to reassure, my friend though is always of the opinion that as long as you’re reading, that’s it, that’s what matters, no matter the genre. Oh, there are genres I dislike, but I tend to lean towards her thoughts, hey, no matter what, it’s reading!

But basically it was boiling down to this; was YA just a way to water down things, and taking away the value?

[Also there was this impression that Harry Potter redefined YA as a genre and I agree and disagree; it certainly did as far as length was concerned and that most of the novels were ‘hefty’ word counts, not necessarily how many books in a series as Chronicles of Narnia already spanned many books, but I could have listed many YA that came out around that same time or before, Harry Potter just happened to be a phenomenon, one that I continue to obsess with to this day]

I couldn’t believe that at all. This was a way to address issues that YAs can encounter, there was some laughter about The Hunger Games and let me tell you I’ve read that trilogy 3x and will defend it to my dying day. There were politics and a message SO much deeper than the love triangle. I think people confuse YA with being superficial just because it likes to use tropes, but, uh, who said tropes were bad? I didn’t, I’m a sucker for some and that doesn’t reflect on intellect.

I read so many classics, did a course on Shakespeare, read Brave New World when I was 11, wrote fancy papers on the diaspora of Jazz in France and the UK between both World Wars and I am a huge idiot lol. Obviously, our reading choices do not reflect our intellect but I would like to think they tend to reflect our interests.

I have nothing against YA, I devoured it like my very life depended on it up until about 6 years ago, and guess what. Do you know why I stopped reading YA? Because I was at a different point in my life, it had nothing to do with age, it just had to do with I was in a different mood of reading. That’s it, not because I was too old for it or because I was too mature for it [BAHAHAHA me, mature, yea okay] and I really was a bit flabbergasted as I read some of the things.

Guess what. I read Twilight, I read all 4 books of that series, I STRONGLY dislike it [and not because I thought it was dumb but I actually had some serious issues with Bella and strong womanly feelings that need a post on its own but I won’t ever write it], but I read it, and I never once thought any friend of mine who liked Twilight was dumb because of it, only thought that if they watched the movies ;).

Also, a book is not always an instrument of learning, sometimes it is simply entertainment.

I can think of so many YA books where they don’t water down issues that are important. Harry Potter was a story of growing up, of making hard decisions, Hunger Games, politics and corruption of power and government also the consequences of starting a rebellion for better or worse, A Series of Unfortunate Events, children are not heard, and therefore bad things can happen to them, to others, that good people don’t always come out on top, Percy Jackson was a hero with ADHD and dyslexia and I could literally go on forever with this list of examples. I will refuse to believe that these novels do not mean as much because they’re YA. No. Enough is enough. There are dumb things written for adults all the time lol and like my friend says; as long as you’re reading that’s all that matters.

But what do YOU all think? Yay or Nay to YA, and what are some of your favorite YA series? Any recs??

By TheCaffeinatedReader

A Caffeinated Reader and Musician, destined to write lacklustre book reviews with the over-ample amount of free time.

12 replies on “Discussing YA”

YA is not my favorite genre but I enjoy reading it. Whenever I want to read something relaxing, and just for fun, YA is one of the genre that I will look for.

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Calling YA watered down is basically calling everything it encompasses “not important” in my mind anyway. I think the only way it’d be watered down is the language/words used, that’s it. Sure there’s tropes but hey, a trope can be good and bad. It’s the story we came for, we sometimes stay for the characters…

The Hunger Games to me, is so important, even though I read it years ago. If you look at our reality and The Hunger Games you can now see so many similarities…sure there’ll be differences. A story, no matter the genre it falls under, is fiction which draws on our reality, twists and warps it into something else. Something else, which if you spot it, you can see it in our world too.

I’ve been reading since I was able to, I’ve grown up with my nose between pages…I feel in love with YA and stumbled hesitantly into NA. I tripped right into Adult Paranormal and shied away from the classics…the point is. As long as you enjoy what you’re reading, that’s ok. No one should feel like they have the right to pass comment on other genres, unless they read them…and if they read them. Then by god be respectful.

Loved this post Haley, totally agree with you ❤

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I prefer classics and mysteries but I just don’t see any use in being superior in reading choices, it’s just being a jerk. I hate that people feel the need to put others down at all for such personal choices like books, music, movies, just let them be.


Such a great post and an extremely important topic! I completely agree with what you are saying – that as long as you are reading, it counts and that’s it.
Sure, some YA books are terrible (Twilight, as you mentioned) but then again, some have such deeper meanings!
I love the message you are trying to convey through this post.

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“I answer them in my head, read what others think and scurry along” honestly I should try this because I’ve gotten into wayyyyy too many arguments over books 😅 and I’m with you on this one – YA tackles so many important issues, not always well but it sure does try. I think tropes can make a discussion feel less original and therefore a little less powerful, but it shouldn’t really detract from the point the author is trying to make.

I actually remember sitting down to think through all the different issues The Mortal Instruments *explicitly* tackles (racism/discrimination, immigration, politics, corruption, chosen vs. biological family, queerphobia, etc., etc., etc.) and being really blown away by how long the list was. teenagers are more than capable of understanding complex and controversial topics, not to mention all the adults who read YA…

one of my favorite YA authors is Maggie Stiefvater! I love everything she’s written (that I’ve read, which I think is most of it?) I’m also a fan of Catherynne M. Valente, though she might be borderline NA/Adult, and Tamora Pierce … the list goes on and gets longer all the time haha.

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I’m 40 and YA is still my go to genre and personally I think it is because how the genre is labeled is completely wrong. Just because the main characters are teens doesn’t mean the book should be a YA book.

Look at Tiffany Jackson’s Allegedly. 1) Anyone who thinks YA is watered down? Hand them that book to read and see if they feel the same after. If they do they are lying or haven’t read it (same for the scythe trilogy) and 2) that book is adult content heavy. It is disturbing. It is relevant, incredible and deeply disturbing in a very important, necessary way. However, give parents a heads up or don’t make it YA. There is nothing watered down about it or Monday’s Not Coming for that sake (although not *quite* as heavy as Allegedlh, still very disturbing and rightfully so).

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As soon as I stopped being a teen, I started reading YA. Strange, I know. It’s so much more than watered down adult, and as I think you touched on, it’s on the leading edge of including diversity. Good post!

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