I’m always surprised to see how maligned young adult fiction (YA) is, especially considering that without YA the book industry would be in FAR worse shape than it is (think Hunger Games and Twilight). There have been a great many theories floated as to why some authors don’t seem to think that YA is a valid literary form; everything from outright misogyny (a larger proportion of YA writers are women*) to a feeling that books for teenagers somehow don’t have value because they aren’t written for adults.
I can only give my perspective on the genre, but I’m profoundly grateful that YA exists. As a genre it’s getting more people reading, especially in sci-fi and fantasy, and that can only be a good thing for writers.
As for the quality of content, it varies as much as with any other form. I’ve read some truly dreadful literary fiction and yet read a YA romance that stuck with me for weeks afterwards. Likewise I’ve read YA books that were awful, but that doesn’t mean the entire form should be blackballed because of a few bad books.
I think YA gives us as writers some unique storytelling opportunities to look at common tales from different perspectives. Some of the best YA I’ve ever come across has made me think about things from a point of view I hadn’t before considered.
I also think that if you don’t think there’s any YA out there of value then you haven’t read enough of it. In fact YA isn’t really a genre as much as a massive subsection of fiction that happens to involve protagonists who are teenagers. I’ve seen YA that covers the entire gamut of traditional genres and quite a few that defied being put into one box or another.
No matter what you think though, the existence of YA means more readers in general and that’s good for all of us.
What do you think of YA? Let me know in the comments.
* If you honestly think that YA is inferior because more women write it than men then you are the problem, not women, not YA. You. Get help.