As anyone who reads (or writes) teen fiction knows, “Young Adult” covers a wide breadth of genres, from comedy to romance to horror.  Should YA fiction be broken up into categories as adult fiction is?

This is the first “debate” prompt the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain has given, but I think it’s a really good idea.  There are a lot of questions about YA fiction that its readers are very outspoken about, and it’s nice to see what others think about them instead of letting yourself get carried away to far.

The answer to the question is no.  YA fiction should not be broken up into categories.  I’ll explain exactly why not.

The first reason is that it’s such a small area to begin with.  The number of adults in the world drastically outweigh the number of children and teens, and it stands to reason that the quantity of adult books would similarly be greater than the quantity of books for younger people.  Adult fiction needs to be separated by larger genres because the pool of books to choose from is so great anyway.  If we didn’t have those distinctions, libraries would be a mess.  The thousand-page tomes that make up science fiction and epic fantasy would completely eclipse the smaller but sweeter mysteries and comedies.  Dusty-paged classics would be mashed up against glossy new horror stories.  It’s nice for people to be able to walk into a library and go straight to the section of the genre they’re looking for, find the book they need, and get out of there before the librarian remembers their fines.  It’s a classification method that works only because adult fiction is so enormous.

Young adult fiction is not as big.  The teen section at my library consists of a total of perhaps eight shelving units.  That section combined with the entire children’s section would occupy half of what adult fiction occupies.  The sections that YA fiction would be divided into would be varying size from six books to twelve books each– and some wouldn’t know where to go.  The new crazes wouldn’t be given justice.  Paranormal romance: does it go with plain romance or fantasy?  What would fantasy geeks say when their section is overrun with vampire-smooching Mary Sues?  What would high school romance fans say when they realize that they don’t really like their good-looking senior turning into a werewolf?  Some people like things real, some people like things weird, and some people like a good mix of both, but a lot of people would object to having the mixtures considered completely real or completely weird.  I think it’s better not to separate the groups.

People writing and reading YA fiction like the diversity as well, I think.  People who are normally fantasy fans can move their eyes two books over from their favorite book and pick out a historical fiction novel.  People who are normally animal fiction fans could get deeply engrossed in an intense fantasy.

You might have noticed by now that I think of YA fiction as one big fantasy section.  Well, it’s half true, but it half isn’t.  What I mean by this is that half of the section is in fact taken up by fantasy, in my experience.  Younger fiction is almost completely fantasy or school fiction nowadays, and the only difference between children’s fiction and YA fiction is the fact that the readers are a little older.  They like things with more romance than simple hand-holding when a supporting character is falling off a cliff.  Thus, a trio of children solving supernatural mysteries around their school is no longer so appealing as a girl trying to figure out nothing more than whether her boyfriend is really going out with someone else.  Personally, I like neither of these, and I’m still trying to reconcile myself with the fact that a story about demon hunters can be described as a romance.

Perhaps I’m going about this all wrong, but I like YA as it is.  I like all the diversity, even though yes, I avoid some types of books.  And I still hold that it isn’t big enough for a split like that.

Anyway, I’m too brain-dead to write anything more…  NaNoWriMo is taking it out of me.  See what others say at the links below.

November 5th – – Musings From Neville’s Navel

November 6th – – This Page Intentionally Left Blank

November 7th – – It’s All In My Head

November 8th – – Miriam Joy Writes

November 9th –  – The Loony Teen Writer

November 10th – – Ink Spilled = Pages Filled

November 11th – – Inside the Junk Door

November 12th – – A Mirror Made of Words

November 13th – – Life.

November 14th – – Reality Is Imaginary

November 15th – – Books Are Better Than Diamonds

November 16th – – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

November 17th – – Kirsten Writes!

November 18th – – Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

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  1. Eheheh….several Twilight references I see. I never read those books. Most people I know either loved or hated them, but the majority of them said it was a waste of time. ‘Course, I didn’t have time to read them, what with my Harry Potter books to read and all. I congratulate myself on reading that series for the first time this year. *pats self on back*

    • I am in the same position. And no, it is not simply aimed at Twilight– it was aimed at the Paranormal Romance section at my local bookstore.

  2. Good thoughts although I probably would have argued the other way. But I forgot to sign up for the blog chain.

  3. Charley R

     /  November 7, 2012

    Ahehehe, great post Liam! I think I agree with you to a certain extent – I’m one of those who’s not big on romance, and gets rather disgusted when the “YA” section is completly overtaken with the Sue-infested-Sparklies, but to be honest I’m wandering about more in th adult section now anyway (have been for a few years, really).

    Fantastic post, well reasoned, and very readable!

  4. Although I argued the other side (well, both sides actually), nice post!

  5. You’ve got a good point there, sir. It is rather nice to look two books over and see something in a different genre that could be worth reading. Though I do admit it would be nice if the contemporary romances were off in their own little dark corner where I could ignore them. Of course then the ones with mystery and romance plots might end up ignored too. Hmm. That would be tragic.

    And I have to ask: the trio of kids solving paranormal mysteries around their school, that wouldn’t happen to be a Bailey School Kids reference, would it?

  6. Actually, I believe that Paranormal Romance is its own genre. You made some really good points (as always). However, I would argue that while fantasy is a large genre in YA novels, I think that realistic fiction and urban fantasy are larger. Then again, this all depends upon if you consider dystopian novels “fantasy”.


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