The widespread popularity of young adult fiction books is an anomaly to many—it’s hard for people to understand why adults want to read books targeted to a teen audience. “Want” is an understatement—teens and adults alike line up at bookstores to get their hands on books the day they’re released, flock to conventions and wait with baited breath until the final installments of various series are published. While it may seem like an oddity or deviation from common sense to many, it makes perfect sense if you break down the factors that appeal to the young adult audience.
While it’s easy to understand the bias against young adult novels, if you haven’t read any of the bestsellers, you’re missing the plot, no pun intended. Some may have read one young adult book they disliked immensely and swore off the genre forever. Obviously, both good and bad writing are not attributes of any genre in particular, so an entire category can never be judged on the experience of reading one book.
Targeted marketing campaigns aside, many young adult fiction books of recent years boast incredible depth and quality, tackling important issues and themes that transcend age and gender. For example, many popular dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and Revealing Eden portray address issues that, while commonly faced by teen protagonists, are ones that we’ve all experienced at one point or another and can relate to on myriad levels. Yet this can be said of many adult novels as well, so why are books for young adults becoming increasingly popular among audiences of all ages?
The reality is that there can be very little difference between adult fiction and young adult fiction books. Some of the best authors in history penned books that weren’t necessarily geared for a teen audience, yet the age of their protagonist dictated their genre classification as young adult. Excellent examples of this include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Catcher in the Rye, Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Go Ask Alice.
Another element behind the appeal of young adult novels is that they tend to be easy, quick reads written in straightforward language. Sometimes we’re looking for a true form of escape—and few books provide that as well as books for young adults do. Even dystopian novels offer a vacation from reality while enlightening or reminding us about social issues. They tend to be unique, fast-paced reads that are incredibly thought-provoking.
Last but not least, many adults simply want to see what the fuss is all about. With the record-breaking successes of series like Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Save the Pearls, those who would normally abhor young adult novels have opened their minds to the magic they evoke.
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