Friday, September 16, 2016

Growing Up

I just recently came across this post on Tumblr, and it hit on a lot of things I have been thinking for the past year and a bit. The poster talks about some of their reasons for reading YA as an adult; because YA is fast-paced and fun to read, not because they want to relive being a teenager, which is a common assumption about adults who read YA.

YA is often looked down on as a book category, most likely because it is a woman-dominated industry (I encourage you to read Nicole's amazing and in-depth Sexism in YA article), and as a result there are quite a lot of people in the YA online community constantly defending YA as a legitimate category. People go through the arguments every time another YA-bashing article comes up (which is a lot, it's getting old): YA has a place; there are awful YA books and there are awesome YA books, just like there are awful adult books and awesome adult books; one is not more "mature" or necessarily better than the other.

I started this blog when I was 15. I'm 22 now. I have been involved, to some extent, in the YA book community for most of that time, so people's fierce defensiveness of YA has worn off on me. A few years ago, probably when I was 16 or 17, I thought that I would never stop reading YA, or being interested in it. It never occurred to me that I would ever start to lose interest in reading YA, because that's all I read, all the time, and I loved it. When my mom said that sometimes YA was too much for her, I thought, well I'm not going to become a boring, no fun adult like that! I am going to read only YA until I die! (Sorry mom).

Well, as it turns out, YA actually is mostly just for teenagers. Who knew that my mom would be right?

Right now, I feel like I am in an awkward transitional phase between YA and adult, and it manifests itself in a giant book slump where I don't feel like reading anything. I'm not as interested in YA, but I am also not quite ready to give it up entirely yet. I don't really have a go-to place for books anymore. 

The adult fiction (and nonfiction) world is so wide. I don't even know where to start. I knew what YA I liked, I knew where to go and what authors to read. I don't really know where to go to find books I like yet. And while I want to find a place I can go to to find good books, I don't want to limit myself to any one genre either, because I know I can find good books in any number of genres.

Then there's the whole other thing of finding fun books. Some of the best adult books I've read recently haven't really been light reading. Pictures at A Revolution by Mark Harris was gigantic and the current book I'm reading, Ice Diaries by Jean Mcneil is really well written, but very dense. Like that Tumblr post pointed out, I don't really want to read about teens anymore, but I still want to read fun books, books with good characters and fast-paced, interesting plots, that are easy and quick to get through, and a lot of the time, you can find that in YA.

What do you think? Have you read a good, fun and fast-paced adult book with good characters that you could recommend to me? Why do you read YA? Do you have a similar experience?

8 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I'm 26 and still read mostly YA. One reason is because I set myself reading goals, like this year I want to read 100 books, and YA is generally quick to get through. Another is that I write mostly YA and it helps to read in the genre you write in. And lastly, I still don't consider myself an adult. I still read MG too. :)

    As for adult books, I would recommend V.E. Schwab's A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and you can't go wrong with Pierce Brown's RED RISING. Both of those are fast-paced and they appeal to both YA and adult readers, so they might help you with your transition.

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    1. Yeah I don't think I will ever give up on YA entirely... it's just that the percentages have shifted... now it's a bigger percentage of adult rather than YA. I also still love MG and I hope I never get sick of good MG because they are soo good. <3

      Thanks for the recs!!

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  2. I read a bit of a mix. However, I know the feeling of being in your early twenties and feeling like you can't necessarily relate to teen protagonists but still have very little in the way of adult books written for your age group either. However, I still enjoy reading YA -- and there's also YA books that don't feature teen protagonists. And adult books that do feature younger protagonists. Where I stopped being interested in YA is the ever-present emphasis on romance, because while romance is lovely and can be fulfilling, many of the subplots feel like they are inserted because it's a genre requirement rather than because they enrich the story. I have found plenty of YA books with incidental romances that I DO like, and a handful of teen romances as well, but the trope is starting to wear on me.

    Honestly? My picks for new books are dictated entirely by budget. Giveaways, bundles and ebook deals, what the library has available, promotions -- all that. I did my last two reviews (The Greenstone Grail and Stonehill Downs) on books I got because they were under $5 on Nook. My absolute favorite fantasy series in the world I discovered because the first book was one in a bundle of 14 for 99 cents. In that same bundle, I found another series I ended up really loving plus a few more I enjoyed.

    Letting the lottery of "how much do I have in my bank account right now?" decide what I read has been oddly liberating. Even if the book is bad, it's not as if I wasted a ton of money on it. It's also allowed me to discover more indie series and authors. Of course, there are many bad books out there, but the good ones you find along the way make the whole thing worth it.

    If you want, I can recommend a few books in various genres for you to check out. :) Obviously my favorite genre is fantasy, but I do read books outside that as well.

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    1. I love fantasy as well but I haven't really read much in the way of adult fantasy, mostly just YA. That would be interesting to just buy cheap ebooks! Sometimes I find it hard finding books with premises I like though... Also most of the books I get from the library, so they're free anyway.

      But yes! Give me all the recs!

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    2. The series I mentioned really liking was The Cycle of Arawn, a fantasy series which follows this character from his mid-teens to adulthood over the course of several books (The White Tree, The Great Rift, The Black Star, The Red Sea, The Silver Thief -- that's the series at present). He hunts down this banned religious text because...well, because he's kind of a nerd, really, but he also wants to learn magic from it. He's hunted by various groups who want to get the book back and/or burn him as a heretic. The characters do some pretty violent stuff to stay alive, but a running theme/question of the series is where to draw the line as far as what is justifiable, and how the characters have to live with their actions afterwards. I feel like fantasy gets a bad rap for how it handles violence, and this series is different.

      I recommend it because if you're in between YA and adult books, the series lets you follow this guy from adolescence through late twenties (as of The Red Sea). Even The White Tree isn't really what I'd call YA in tone -- but still has some of the fun YA characteristics like coming of age, friendship stories, teens being teens, lighting people's swords on fire just because they can...you know. Haha. But because the characters age more than a year or two between books, it avoids the YA trap of romanticizing the teen years or acting like the characters' stories are over once they leave their teens. It also lets events in the fantasy world unfold on a more realistic timeline that isn't dictated by "this genre is over once the character turns 18." Moreover, the characters aren't required to do all their maturing, growing up, and learning life lessons in their teens. The books can let them be immature, short-sighted, biased, and what-have-you as teens because yeah, many 16yo guys are like that, and their character growth comes as they *grow up* and experience more of the world.

      Sorry about the soapbox. It's just that that's my series I have to tell everyone about now that I've read it. :P

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    3. And while I'm at it...

      I recommend Garth Nix's Abhorsen books for fantasy with NA or older YA protagonists. They're about necromancers who put zombies to rest rather than raising them.

      Wool by Hugh Howey is a dystopian future adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, except that the Romeo and Juliet characters switch places in the narrative (Juliet is banished while Romeo's imprisoned in the 'tomb' and she has to save him, etc.) and WOW is it good! It's an indie-pub success you may have heard about. The author worked with his readership to incorporate reader-generated content and develop the book over time from a short story to the novel it is now. It's sooooooo good.

      The King Raven trilogy (Hood, Scarlet, Tuck) by Stephen Lawhead is a historical fiction adaptation of the Robin Hood myths. The author is a historian and makes a strong case for the origin of the Robin Hood myth in Wales. So the story is set around the time of William the Conqueror instead of the Crusades, and takes place in Wales, not England. Each book focuses on a different famous character in the Hood legends.

      More or less anything by Diana Wynne Jones except for Fire and Hemlock. I think hallucinogens may be required to "get" that ending, but perhaps it's just me. :P I just finished Deep Secret, though, and it was fantastic. A lot of her work is for children, but it also seems to have a layer to it where you can't really appreciate the books until you've read them as an adult.

      Stonehill Downs: a sorcerer and a weaver try to solve a series of murders while not getting distracted by their attraction...so basically, the plot of every detective story ever, except in a fantasy setting. And involving a love triangle between the magician, his spirit familiar/dead wife, and the main character. It wasn't my favorite book in the world, but I'd really like to know what someone else thought about it because the ending left me like...?

      I'm trying to recommend more lighthearted stuff (apart from DWJ) but everything I've been reading lately has been really grim. Sorry...

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    4. I will definitely try to check at least some of these out!

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  3. It's weird how tastes can change over time isn't it? I'm forever declaring I'll never do something or give something up only to change gradually over time into another person...

    I'm 25 and I'm still as much into YA as I've ever been. For me I like the boundary YA represents. I'm a lover of boundaries and precipices. In some ways everything I love is similar. I love autumn because of the crisp air and the potential for change in the wind. I love YA just the same. It's in the in-between space between the magic of childhood and the reality of adulthood. There's a special magic in that place I think.

    Having said that I do read adult books too! I think it's good not to stick to any one category :) I love sci fi and fantasy adult books but I also love horror and crime and romance and all the things. Really depends on what you want to read in order to give a recommendation! A great place for advice would be the library imho. My library got me into adult books long before I was an adult but they willingly helped me find good places to start. :) Plus, free books! <3

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Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)

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