Growing up I was a massive reader, there wasn’t much I wouldn’t read as a child, everything from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, children’s classics such as The Secret Garden and more modern at the time books such as Jacqueline Wilson’s The Suitcase Kid. As I got older I moved on to some other fantastic books, Harry Potter, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman.
There was a bit of a gap in my early and mid twenties but recently I’ve started reading a lot of YA fiction again. It’s a very popular area of book blogging so I got my hands on a couple of recent releases and reminded myself just how good YA fiction is.
All of this got me thinking, does YA fiction get the love and respect it deserves?
I think that one of the main issues with YA fiction is that too many people view YA fiction as a single genre and not a primary target audience. Classifying a novel’s target audience is important without doubt, it helps a marketing team nail down the publicity push for starters. But perhaps this makes it too easy from some people to gloss over the breadth of wonderful YA fiction available. Having looked back at the way I’ve tagged some of my reviews it’s certainly something I’ve been guilty of and intend to rectify over the course of the few days. In the past few months I’ve read YA books across a wide spectrum, from thrillers and mysteries, to romance, contemporary and science fiction and I’ve barely scratched the surface. You wouldn’t expect to just see all ‘adult’ fiction lumped into one genre so why do we do that with YA fiction?
I also think that as they are books primarily marketed at young adults some people view them as children’s books and dismiss them. I don’t know if this may have a slight historical element to it, perhaps in the past some of the most mass-produced and well know YA series didn’t have the same quality as the books produced today. I feel like some people don’t take the time to realise that these books deal wonderfully with a wide range of topics that deserve to be handled sensitively but part of mainstream fiction.
Then it comes to awards – and this is something I think I’ll touch on again in a later post as I don’t think YA books is the only area where what I’m about to say is applicable – but why aren’t YA books more widely acknowledged? I’ve seen the shortlist for the YA Book Prize, and it’s full of fantastic books, personally I’ve not read enough of them, again something I need to rectify, but I know from talking to others these are very popular and widely read books. It’s great they’re getting this attention and they certainly deserve it, but why aren’t they also recognised in the ‘big’ book awards. From what I can see the only requirements for the Man Booker Prize, since the criteria was widened in 2013, is that it must be a full length novel, written in English and published in the UK. From this I can see no reason why a book written primarily for young adults shouldn’t be nominated for such a prize, but as far as I’m aware one never has been. Please correct me if I’m wrong!
These are just my quick ramblings late on a Saturday night in the middle of the SundayYAthon. I’m sure many a person out there has posted a much more eloquent and considered discussion on a similar topic
What do you all think? Does YA fiction get the respect it deserves or is it still looked down on by too many people?