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Author Topic: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?  (Read 13253 times)

Offline Lanko

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Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2016, 12:45:34 AM »
I don't avoid any genre, but some appeal much more to me. Also much more picky about others...
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2016, 01:01:36 AM »
I've read Dan Wells novel about a serial killer who kills demons but because the mc is a teenager people call it YA ...

oooh!  is that one of the "john cleaver" books?  i hear they're good.


Yep I loved it, I think someone else read it here maybe m3m?

i haven't read them, but i'm a pretty avid listener of the writing excuses podcast.  i may have mentioned that at some point.


I don't avoid any genre, but some appeal much more to me. Also much more picky about others...

yeah.  i'm kind of ashamed to mention it, but i never read ya.  i'll send a sample of something that sounds interesting to my kindle, get two paragraphs in, and go "bleagh.  is this ya?  oh, it is.  delete."

it's like those people who are super-sensitive to cilantro.  ya writing is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  in theory, as i understand it, ya is written in the same style of prose (maybe not grimdark) but is just lacking some of the more complex themes from traditional fantasy.  so, it should still be perfectly interesting in a car chases and explosions sort of way.

but, man, it instantly reads like bubblegum to me.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2016, 01:13:43 AM »
It's weird though. Not all stuff that is labelled "YA" is like that. You should check out The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner - after I read those, I was shocked to find they were considered YA. Because they were so good (like, really good), I decided to stop actively avoiding the subgenre... until I tried the next one book on my list - Alanna: the First Adventure. That one was awful.

There are some gems hidden within the rubbish there, it's just a matter of finding them.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2016, 05:09:10 AM »
Every year since I've been keeping track (on GoodReads, since 2011), YA has comprised some of my absolute favourite, but also some of my absolute least-favourite, reads of the year. YA, for me, is about the scope - somehow, there seem to be so many more Big Damn Ideas flying around in YA. It's like more is possible. It's like you're allowed to really get zany. (And also, there are so many lady protagonists, and a lot of diversity in race, culture and sexuality. It's great.) But I don't deny, some of them just fall into same-old dreary teenager blahness. And also, part of what can be great about YA is that teenagers have blazing emotions and less hesitation about things - if done well, it makes the story so very vivid, but if that sort of thing just annoys you, I can see how YA in general can be a problem. (I mean, it's like me and whiny twenty-somethings, and The Magicians...)

For the record, some of my YA favourites from the past few years:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - on a near-British island, every October the murder sea horses are raced for life-changing prizes
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman - rational, clinical, canny dragons can take human forms; a very compelling and intelligent look at politics, music and prejudice
White Cat by Holly Black - alterni-urban-fantasy, you can be cursed through direct touch; gloves all round, plus organised crime, and a snarky, unreliable narrator
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson - in post-apocalyptic Brazil, society's bloodlust is appeased by the sacrifice of a brilliant young elected Prince
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina - in post-climate-disaster Australia, the government hunts a group of superpowered outcasts
The Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox - in an alternate version of 19th century New Zealand, dreams can be harvested and performed, but a nightmare lurks
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie - Viking-esque, with Abercrombie's ruthless and unflinching style, but a little more hope for a younger crowd perhaps

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2016, 05:12:20 AM »
Cupiscent have you read sabriel?
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2016, 12:33:58 AM »
Cupiscent have you read sabriel?

I have, and I know it's oft-beloved, but it didn't do that much for me. I think it was lacking that teenage-vibrancy that I mentioned; I didn't connect much with Sabriel herself.

Offline Karnak

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #36 on: June 09, 2016, 08:09:56 AM »
I only avoided YA novels because my strategy to finding a mew book was heading straight to fantasy, grabbing a random book, and reading a random chapter.  If I liked the writing style i would then read the synopsis, and decide whether to purchase or not.  If not, I would put it back and move on.  That being said, I did recently read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson based on a friends recommendation (and the fact that it falls in line with one of my favorite marvel storylines Inhumans).  Come to find out, its labeled as YA by my library and local book store.  Surprised me, but didnt sway me from immediately buying the sequel upon finishing the book.

Offline WPaladin

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2016, 12:50:02 PM »
YA I have noticed is written down to a lower level of reading.  Not that it is a bad thing.  It is easier to consume stories that way and I do love a good story and don't like having to go back and look up a word I don't recognize as it breaks the emersion I get.  However in non-YA books I find myself having more of my views on life challenged and my knowledge and imagination broadened.  Complex not as common words and phrases bring out some very specific images that the author is trying to translate to my mind that a YA book just doesn't give me.  Both types of books have their value.  Some days I feel like having a deep reading experience that pushes me and sometimes I just want a simpler experience.

Offline Benstory

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2016, 04:23:33 AM »
As a teacher of middle school English, it's practically part of my job to read YA lit. We had to define the characteristics of YA lit in one of my undergraduate teaching method courses. It really came down to two traits: a teenage protagonist, and the lack of competent adult figures. If you're interested in more detail, you can check out the blog post I wrote about YA lit after I learned that my novel Maiden of Pain had been classified by several libraries as YA.

Interesting - by this definition I guess Harry Potter isn't YA -- there are several competent adult figures (although yes, ultimately its up to the kids to save the day -- but only because they never just come out and ask for Dumbledore's help).

I enjoyed HP. I read the first Hunger Games book and didn't hate it. The next two YA titles I gave a chance to were miserable slogs -- not challenging in any way.  Since then I've avoided YA like the plague, and haven't looked back. Plenty of good stories aimed at adults out there.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2016, 07:16:10 AM »
As a teacher of middle school English, it's practically part of my job to read YA lit. We had to define the characteristics of YA lit in one of my undergraduate teaching method courses. It really came down to two traits: a teenage protagonist, and the lack of competent adult figures. If you're interested in more detail, you can check out the blog post I wrote about YA lit after I learned that my novel Maiden of Pain had been classified by several libraries as YA.

Interesting - by this definition I guess Harry Potter isn't YA -- there are several competent adult figures (although yes, ultimately its up to the kids to save the day -- but only because they never just come out and ask for Dumbledore's help).

I enjoyed HP. I read the first Hunger Games book and didn't hate it. The next two YA titles I gave a chance to were miserable slogs -- not challenging in any way.  Since then I've avoided YA like the plague, and haven't looked back. Plenty of good stories aimed at adults out there.
Harry Potter seems to be classified as middle grade, but it's one of those rare works that was able to grow with the readers. It was also cross generational. Terry Pratchett did a similar thing with Discworld, his Tiffany Aching books are a YA series of Discworld, but they're read and enjoyed by adult readers as well, just like his other Discworld books, while being written for an adult audience are enjoyed by readers from YA ages onwards.
The thing is no matter what category of book you prefer (YA is not a genre, it's not even a sub genre, it is a marketing category which stretches across a number of genres and sub genres) you will find good and bad, and I've never let that stop me from reading any particular type of book.

Offline Rostum

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #40 on: June 13, 2016, 07:59:09 PM »
I draw your attention to Joe Abercrombies Shattered Sea trilogy and the amazing yoghurt knitting that created Young Adult Grimdark (ISYN).

Much less swearing and a little less sex than the 'adult' books, but slightly more contraversy and a lot of complaints from those who didn't read past a certain death in Half A War.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 10:33:51 PM by Rostum »

Offline magisensei

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #41 on: June 25, 2016, 06:43:25 PM »
YA this category are novels made and marketed towards teenagers.  The protagonist barely ages in the novel although they will grow and change but they essentially remain a teenager or young adult. 

There is an innocence to the novel especially the protagonist as they are doing something for the first time or experiencing something for the first time.  He/she will be exploring their world and their place in it and the boundaries that surround them and trying to push or change these boundaries.  Some will have darker and deeper themes but that is only expected of a good novel. 

When we classify novels and look at their writing style there is a definite difference between what is classified as YA and what becomes marketed towards adults. 

I read a lot of urban fantasy Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampire series is an example of a series that should be a YA series rather than an adult series.  Yes the characters are adults (a graduate student) but the way the characters behave in the novel clearly indicates that they are teenage-like with even a teenage-like almost perspective on the world.   This is quiet a bit different than lets say Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series where the characters are obviously adults with an adult mentality. 

How the character is written is key to deciding whether a novel is YA or adult in terms of marketing.  Another example would be Brandon Sanderson's novels there is a difference between his YA novels and his adult series in terms of how these characters act and how the novel is even written.  Less complex sentences at times although the writing remains solid it is simpler in style. 

I think in recent years with the explosion of the Hunger Games and such novels the YA market has come a market which publishers and writers can use to sell their books.   The biggest criteria for YA is of course a teenage protagonist and this person remains a teenager through out the series - do they physically have to be under 19 years of age - no - but there should be a mentality that obviously shows that this individual is still a teenager in someway. 


Offline Kitvaria Sarene

Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #42 on: June 25, 2016, 09:07:42 PM »
I read and love a lot of YA. I grew up with the YA fantasy section in our little bookshop (it was already a section in the late 90s here in Germany). There is a difference, as in protagonists being younger, not so much sex/gore and usually a not so complex story, as to keep it an easy read.
Some of course are riddled with clich├ęs and angst, but so are a lot of adult books.
I especially love books like Bartimaeus, Lockwood, Panem, Otori, Steelheart, Potter and such. I really wouldn't want to miss those!

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #43 on: June 30, 2016, 07:01:22 PM »
Three random observations:

On some levels, I think YA shares the appeal of Pixar and many Disney films - there is content there for multiple levels of maturity, but couched so as to be mutually non-interfering, with the lowest common denominator being geared for the young. For example, pacing is particularly bent to appeal to the young/very young.

Reading this thread it occurs to me that my novel could be considered YA, although I break one of the rules specified earlier - I have an old version of the protag telling the story. But the fact I never considered YA as a potential branding for the work illustrates my sentiment - I am not interested in YA as such. I think I lack the necessary organs to appreciate it, as a class of books. Perhaps because when I was young, I read everything, and found that some works were appealing to me as a youth, in multiple genres - and YA tries to encompass them all: mysteries, romances, adventures, fantasy, coming of age, etc., which seems distracting and an unneeded doubling of all the genres (YA-fantasy vs. fantasy).

I am not sure if this is because I hold many young people in contempt, or because I hold their most popular works in contempt (Twilight? That's your generation's iconic work?). Don't misunderstand, I love young people, but I have a strong bias for the non-whiny, ambitious, and talented, and against their weaker counterparts. I know many YA who have fought and killed for their country, and faced terrible, complex problems - and knowing them, the genre leaves me feeling that they are poorly served by the genre that bears their name.
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Offline JMack

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Re: Do you avoid 'YA'? What does it mean?
« Reply #44 on: June 30, 2016, 08:03:49 PM »

Quote
I am not sure if this is because I hold many young people in contempt, or because I hold their most popular works in contempt (Twilight? That's your generation's iconic work?). Don't misunderstand, I love young people, but I have a strong bias for the non-whiny, ambitious, and talented, and against their weaker counterparts. I know many YA who have fought and killed for their country, and faced terrible, complex problems - and knowing them, the genre leaves me feeling that they are poorly served by the genre that bears their name.

Spoken like a true geezer.  ;D
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