25/11/2014

The YA Divide {The Birdie Musings}


It's no secret that Young Adult is one of my favourite things to read. I find it diverse, emotionally crippling, and easily relateable (yes, even when the heroine is a cyborg living in New Beijing).

But as I mature – stop laughing, guys – I've noticed that I'm a lot more fussy about which YA novels I choose to read. There seems to be a kind of spectrum: some YA books are aimed toward the 'young' folks and some toward the 'adult' folks. 

It's like YA itself is split into two categories, and it's hard to tell which book a category falls into just from the Goodreads description.

Sometimes a book will have great reviews and sound amazing, but when I buy a copy, I'll find myself disappointed. Not because it's a bad book, but because it's one of those young Young Adult books, that tend to neglect lengthy descriptions in favour of fast-paced dialogue and have a slightly more casual tone.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's just not what I'm looking for these days. What I usually refer to as 'beach reads', are slipping down my TBR and fluffy romances that focus more on swoon than story, are no longer my cup of tea.

But then other times, I'll be wary of a book, but pick it up because I'm curious, and be pleasantly surprised by how thoughtful and amazingly well-written it is. I'll be captivated by the vivid world-building and three-dimensional characters, and blown away by how beautiful some of the descriptions are.

Those are the books that stay with me and make me fall in love with YA all over again. But it's always a toss-up. I never know which side of YA I'm going to get until I've started reading! 

But I suppose that's what makes it so great. YA is such a varied thing, that it can appeal to anyone from young teenagers to adults at whatever age. There's something for everyone, and it's just a matter of finding the right book for you.


Do you find yourself split between the two sides of YA? Or do you love Young Adult books in all their forms?




 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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41 comments:

  1. I'm almost ridiculously picky with my YA books these days. Then again, I also went through a whole season where I refused to touch YA. Haha. I would only read adult novels or middle grade. Though, now that I'm reading YA again, my pickiness tends to be genre related rather than about the level of the book. (I.e. I also read middle grade novels after all. Haha.)

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    1. Refusing to touch YA would have led you to refusing to touch Raven Boys AND THEN WHERE WOULD WE BE, KIM? Disaster.

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  2. Personally, I'm not picky when it comes to liking books that are either directed at young people or the more mature YA readers. I find it easy to get into both, as long as the story's interesting and the characters aren't idiots. xD Writing style does matter as well, but I can't put my finger on a particular writing style I like... Maybe just something easy to read. Okay, I'm not very fond of 'lyrical' writing, unfortunately. :/

    Anyway, I totally get being picky over what you read! It's definitely hard to trust Goodreads descriptions...

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    1. Lyrical books . . . yeah, with you on that. I can't stand those. I need prose in my books, people. Oodles and oodles of it!

      By the way, you're totally making me feel fussy with your all inclusive reading habits :P

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  3. I completely agree with the idea that YA is split into two different categories. There are books I've read that are aimed for "younger" people and some that are aimed for "older" people. I'm a picky reader. I don't typically put down a book because "it's too young for me" or anything like that but sometimes I'll read a book with character who make such foolish "young" decisions that make me feel like they're just giving young people a bad reputation and I have to put them down *sigh* but I think this is very much a "me" issue.

    There are some YA books I love and some that I don't but I try to not put myself in a box and just read various different types of YA's and see what works for me. Lovely post Allie.

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    1. That's just it! The characters are quite immature and I can't relate to them because they act too young and foolish, to the point where their age becomes a big issue for me, which isn't something I find to be a problem in more 'mature' YA, where characters are young and yet are still capable of not being idiots

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  4. I agree, I think that's why there are many kinds of YA I enjoy way more than the ones you can tell are catered to the younger crowd in a way that you don't find that same enjoyment. It's a but harder to define for me when I think about the ones I enjoyed and didn't enjoy for these reasons but I've definitely had this thought about there being some kind of split. Great Post, Allie!

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    1. The thing that I find strange is that those catered to younger crowds tend to be more romance-centred. And I would've figured that'd be a story older folks would be interested in. Apparently not, though!

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  5. Hmm, I would say I'm pretty picky. Sometimes it's easy to tell if a book is geared toward a younger young adult audience but other times it's much harder. I know when I start a book and begin to see the signs you mentioned (casual tone, lots of dialogue) I find myself almost disappointed. Those books have merit but I don't find them as enjoyable as I used to. So I'm with you, I prefer a bit more depth now.

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    1. I think the writing style is a big tip-off, the way the author phrases things and how quickly everything flows. It's almost a more rushed feeling in a way? I would say these books also all tend to be first person, but then, some really awesome books are first person too, so it's not really a good way to differentiate. BOOKISH PROBLEMS

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  6. I love this post because I couldn't agree more! I too love the YA genre and I probably read it more than any other genre but I too like the ones that are more geared toward the adult side of the spectrum. Although I do love some that are more geared towards younger (like anything by Ally Cater).

    I use to be embarrassed that I read so much YA being an *ahem* adult with children of her own but, why? I mean honestly, I could be doing worse things with my time. :P

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    1. Never be ashamed of reading YA! It's popular for a reason, and I'd definitely rather read something I enjoyed and loved, than read something 'for my age' that didn't give me the same joy. YA has such a broad spectrum, there's no way people should judge who reads it

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  7. Oh god, you've encapsulated my experience with this post. I am so incredibly picky with YA nowadays. If it falls into the younger YA I just put it down. It's so hard to captivate me if I don't get multifaceted characters and/or beautiful prose. And you're right, it's so hard to tell from the GR summary. Sometimes I pick up what I expect to fall into the more "adult" side of the YA spectrum and am bummed to see that it's just an awesome summary and a little less well then what blurb pegged it for. I do save a lot of the more "casual tone" books for days when I'm feeling under the weather though. They make for quick and easy reads and sometimes that's just what I want. But definitely, I'm gearing more towards the other side. Fantastic post, Allie! This has definitely been something that I've thought about lately and I'm glad that I'm not the only one :) x <3

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    1. JESS, YOU ARE MY BOOKISH TWIN <33

      This is exactly it. I need those gorgeously written characters and that magical prose that makes me fall completely into another world for a while. Unfortunately, Goodreads does not help at all. Even looking at the age-range is super useless, because books as beautiful as Daughter of Smoke and Bone etc. sometimes have age ranges of 13+ and I'm like THAT'S CONFUSING TO ME.

      Casual books, or 'beachy reads' are good every now and again. But I'm feeling like even on my lazy days I still want a super awesome heart-crushing story. I've almost grown out of wanting easy reads any more. They just don't seem to do it for me no mater what mood I'm in.

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  8. I think most of us are just like you when it comes to YA books ,, I'm more drawn to fantasy books or books on Greek mythology and their have to be romace on it :)

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    1. Fantasy books are my favourite these days!

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  9. Oh my goodness, YES. I could not agree with this more. Sometimes I feel bad even when rating a book lower, because I think maybe I am the problem and not the book. Though I agree, light and fluffy isn't going to appeal to me no matter who the target audience is.

    I DNFed a review book a few days ago (well, a few weeks ago, but I finally admitted defeat a few days ago) and I am not sure if it was as awful as I thought it was, or if I was just WAY too old for it. That maybe it should be more MG, or maybe I just didn't "get it". I am also really bad with any book where some fifteen year old is incredibly dramatic over something really silly, because I want to be like "Listen, my kid was up sick all night, my car won't start and my mortgage payment is due, sorry about your stained t-shirt or whatever". Those are the types that I just can't handle. In a lot of cases, I think it is the plot/writing that is just way too simplistic for an older reader, but may appeal to someone just "moving up" into the genre.

    Also, I am afraid to read MG for all these reasons, even though I know some of them have great potential.

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    1. DUDE. The rating thing is a huge problem for me! Because on the one hand the book isn't bad, it's just clearly not something I'm identifying with because of my age. But since reviews are subjective anyway, I figure what the hell!

      Dramatic main characters don't do it for me either. Especially after I've read such amazing books that have awesome heroines who stay calm and focused through the worst stuff. And then there's MCs crying because the guy they liked didn't text them back straight away or whatever? NO THANKS. I definitely think you're right about them being more 'starter' books for some people. As someone who's been reading YA for years now, and has almost grown up with it, I feel like my interpretations of it have evolved and so I need more 'challenging' YA. If that makes sense!

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  10. I know what you mean. I tend to not like the books that are more for the younger crowd, like 13 or 14. It just reads a bit immature and I can't get into it.

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    1. But it's hard to differentiate, because so many books I'd consider more A than Y are rated as 13+, and so I just never know what I'm getting. All those ratings really mean to me is that there isn't much swearing or sex, it doesn't always speak to the maturity level unfortunately :(

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  11. I mostly read new adult or adult contemporary and only started reading YA last month so I haven't really noticed the divide. But I do tend to shy away from YA books with main characters I find are very young (which is usually less than 15 heh). Great post, Allie :)

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    1. I never get the thing with reading about characters below 15 and having them have love interests! What is that?? On the rare occasions I've read books with a 15- character, I'm shocked to see how much romance plays a part. It's a little weird!

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  12. This is something I've been beginning to notice quite a bit lately, also. While I still don't mind the swoon-filled contemporary romance reads, I don't like reading them as often as I used to and I certainly finding more young young adult reads. MG is basically a no-go zone territory for me now, although there are a few books that I still want to read from that genre. I've always thought I'll always love YA, and I still think that's true, I just think I need to be a little more cautious as to which YA books I pick up. Wonderful discussion, Allie!

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    1. I'm a no-go with MG too. I think I've only ever read two MG books and they were both by accident LOL. I just need books I can relate too more, also MG books tend to be more about coming-of-age, which isn't necessarily a thing I'm interested in. They're not as ripe with fantasy and death and the craziness I love

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  13. Sadly for me, as exams are steadily approaching I won't have time to read much YA, or any genre of book for that matter. So, at his current time when I have only days until I have to ditch the novels for revision books, I'm finding myself reading a mixture of both and, recently, thousands of pages of Harry Potter. I'm not quite sure where this makes me stand, but my pickiness for YA has definitely decreased as exams are on their way.

    Amy;
    The Blog Hermit

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    1. Exams are the worst when it comes to reading schedules. They messed me up in uni too lol, but thankfully I wasn't blogging back then, so my commitment to reading wasn't as intense.

      Good luck with your exams – I hope you do great!

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  14. Oh you're right! Honestly I don't like it when the book is fast paced and just has dialogue. I want my imagery! And decisions that are actually given thought! And just an awesome plot in general! Maybe it only depends on the author, but if it's just another one of those books that fit the mold by sticking in romance here and there just for the heck of it, then blah.

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    1. Imagery is key! I like a bit of purple in prose, and for the story to really draw me in with epic descriptions. Speech is nothing special – it's what the characters don't say that's most interesting

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  15. To think of it, I like to read all YA so I don't really categorise them like that--though, I do find it hard at times to get into really young YA books, but if I know beforehand, it's much easier because I go into the book, being aware of this.

    Lovely post, Allie! <33

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    1. If I know beforehand it helps, because then I'll have picked it because I'm really in the mood for that particular 'feel'. But if I'm expecting something more and have been tricked by the GR description (LOL), I get a bit bitter over it!

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  16. I'm in the same boat as you, Allie. I find that I'm really not into those kind of YA books that are just about romance. I like contemporary, but I like them to have some other substance than just romance whether it be family issues or whatever. I like the 'upper YA' (if you will) because I feel that they're usually really well written, I can connect to them more and they give me a serious case of the FEELS.

    x Ely

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    1. THE FEELS definitely come more from the more 'adult' YA imo too! Those are the books that tend to take the time to develop the romance a little better and really craft characters I care about. The other end of the spectrum is rushed swoon and characters :(

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  17. I definitely agree! I've been having the same problem recently. I'll start reading a YA book and it will feel too young. It makes it hard to connect to the characters and I'm definitely not enjoying those books as much as I used to. The ones that feel like they are aimed more at the adult side of YA, they're still blowing me away. I read an ARC of All the Bright Places, which is out next year, and I absolutely loved it. That's definitely one that you can feels is aimed at the more mature YA reader.

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    1. Ohh All the Bright Places! I hadn't heard of that until just now but WOW it sounds amazing and I've just added it to my TBR! These are the kind of books that make me so passionate about reading

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  18. I have noticed this too and I do find a lot of YA is too young for me now, usually contemporaries and romances. I think fantasy, mysteries and that sort of thing are usually darker and the issues are more in depth so I get a lot more out of them. That's not to say I don't enjoy lighter YA reads - I do - but I prefer something a bit harder.

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    1. I definitely need something harder now too. It's like the older I get, the less I'm satisfied with lighter reads. I want those soul-consuming books

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  19. I was actually thinking about this the other day, those younger YAs with the romances and beach reads and everything - they're no longer for me. These days I want to dig deeper and find ones that really break the genre like Cinder and everything you know? Great thoughtful post Allie! <3

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    1. Cinder is exactly the kind of book that sparked my passion for novels with 'that little extra'. I can't read beach reads so much any more, because they just don't do anything for me. There's no substance to them these days. The books I'm packing for my holiday are definitely not 'beach reads' LOL

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  20. OH I HEAR YA. I'm not really a fan of the light-and-fluffy, although I find them mostly in contemporaries. But when it's an epic book and it just seems to tread lightly and flippantly? Eh. I want to read more Laini Taylor and Marissa Meyer and Maggie Stiefvater. So I agree that there's kind of two halves to YA. BUT I STILL WANNA READ EVERYTHING. I have a need to consume all the books of ever. I do.

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    1. OH DEAR GOD, CAIT. Just go and name my three favourite authors why don't you? YOU ARE MY BOOK BUDDY AND OUR TASTE IN CAKES AND NOVELS IS TOO SIMILAR RIGHT NOW.

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