Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave for the past couple of years, you’re probably aware of the “Twilight” craze. Let me say up front, this blog is not intended to spark debate about the merits or non-merits of the “Twilight” saga. Nor is it a place to argue for “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. (But, since it’s my blog, let me just add… TEAM EDWARD!)
Instead, what I’d like to do today is create a discussion about Young Adult fiction. I teach middle school, and a couple of years ago, I began seeing the “Twilight” books everywhere at school. In fact, one of my very first posts on this blog was about the phenomenon I was seeing at school, where kids were choosing to sit and read during free moments, rather than talk or socialize with their friends. And you know what? That phenomenon has continued. Except now, most of them aren’t reading The “Twilight” saga. They’re reading other books written for teens/young adults. They’ve discovered a love of reading and have searched out other books to entertain them.
And so have I. I’ve discovered a real love for young adult fiction. There’s such a variety of styles in books written for teens. You can find books about social issues… bullying, fitting in, dating, friendships, etc. etc. You can find books full of paranormal/fantasy elements… vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, fairies, etc. etc. You can find books that deal with family relationships… parents, divorce, step-families, etc. etc. It seems the level of creativity and imagination is endless in young adult fiction. And I find that appealing, both as a reader and a writer.
Not long ago I blogged about “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”, and the first book in the series, “The Lightning Thief”, which was recently released as a movie. My friend Dana commented on that blog post, noting some of the differences between fiction aimed at young female readers vs. fiction aimed at young male readers. She’d noted that fiction that targeted young female readers tended to focus much more on the characters, their development, and their relationships with each other, where as fiction that targeted young male readers tended to focus more on adventure and the obstacles the characters faced.
I think she was right. I also think the same differences apply to fiction for “tweens” (older elementary and junior high kids) vs. fiction for teens/young adults (high school kids). In my experience, fiction for more mature readers really does devote a lot of focus on the character development and the relationship between characters.
Perhaps it’s because more mature readers are able to understand and appreciate relationships in a deeper way than younger kids. Perhaps it’s because the interest of a more mature reader lies more with how people interact with each other, and the interests of a young reader lie in the action - the “things” that the characters do. Perhaps it’s that the older kids can relate to what the characters feel and experience more than younger kids can.
If any of you have read young adult fiction, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are some of the differences you’ve noticed? What are trends that you think appeal to younger or older kids? And how do you feel about the explosion of book-lovers among young people?
Let’s talk about it!