Tuesday, 3 April 2012

YA vs. Adult and Why It's All Silly

We're going to play a game today. I'm going to give you a quote and I want you to figure out if it's from a YA book or an adult book and, if you can, even name which book it is. Don't google, don't cheat. If you recognize the quote, I can't help that, but that's why there's quite more than two or three.

1.) “I'm saying that I'm a moody, insecure, narrow-minded, jealous, borderline homicidal bitch, and I want you to promise me that you're okay with that, because it's who I am, and you're what I need.”

2.)  “She had a sadness that was so deep, but it still could turn to light in a second,and when I saw her smile I wondered what it would be like to make her smile. I thought...I thought it would be like the discovery of smiling.”

3.)  “If you say a word, it leaps out and becomes the truth. I love you. I believe it. I believe I am loveable. How can something as fragile as a word build a whole world?”

4.)  "There comes a point when you just love someone. Not because they're good, or bad, or anything really. You just love them. It doesn't mean you'll be together forever. It doesn't mean you won't hurt each other. It just mean you love them. Sometimes in spite of who they are, and sometimes because of who they are. And you know that they love you, sometimes because of who you are, and sometimes in spite of it."

5.)   “One day you will kiss a man you can't breathe without, and find that breath is of little consequence.”

6.)  "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."

7.)  “All her knowledge is gone now. Everything she ever learned, or heard, or saw. Her particular way of looking at Hamlet or daisies or thinking about love, all her private intricate thoughts, her inconsequential secret musings – they’re gone too. I heard this expression once: Each time someone dies, a library burns. I’m watching it burn right to the ground.” 

8.) "That girl, that impossibly lucky girl, needed nothing."

9.) "The world is vast and meant for wandering. There is always somewhere else to go."

10.)  "For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die."

I'm not going to tell you which quotes are which yet. I want you to take a minute and think. 

What makes these quotes different?

I'll be honest, I set up the quotes in this post, left it for a couple days, then came back to continue it and took a moment to try and remember which quotes were which and, as of now, I haven't double checked and I'm not sure I'm right.

And sure, they're different words within the quotes. But is the quality all that different? Are the words any less meaningful? Are the characters who said them from different planets with different brain functions and moral beliefs? Well...maybe. 

But books, largely, are about struggles and overcoming them and coming out stronger when you do. When you're talking about YA, it's the normal teenage struggles, the not-so-normal teenage struggles, and occasionally some werewolf problems. When you're talking about adult, it's the normal adult struggles, the not-so-normal adult struggles, and occasionally some werewolf problems.

Do you see where I'm going here?

The struggles faced, on a shallow level, may be different. The characters have different life experiences under their belts. Maybe some different maturity levels, different intimacy levels.

So why is YA considered lesser quality than adult fiction? Why is it almost something to be ashamed of to admit I read a book called Beauty Queens, which is a satire, because it's technically a "kid's book"? (We could go into why is YA always lumped with kids books, but that's not the question here.) Maybe it's just me and the fact that it's 2 in the morning, but I don't see a huge difference in quality in those quotes up there.

The point of this post? The whole debate about the quality of YA and if adults should be reading YA is, to be frank, bullshit. There are meaningful, deep YA books and meaningful, deep adult books. There are also light and fluffy YA books and light and fluffy adult books. The age of the characters or the age the story might be "written to" doesn't mean it's not a well written book. It doesn't mean there can't be some other message there. It doesn't mean it's a lesser book.

Next time someone tells you that you shouldn't be reading "kids books," throw some quotes at them. See if they can figure out the difference. 

1.) Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost, Adult
2.) The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, YA
3.) Chime by Franny Billingsley, YA
4.) Incubus Dreams by Laurell K. Hamilton, Adult
5.) Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning, Adult
6.) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, YA
7.) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, YA
8.) The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain, Adult
9.) The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nirk Burd, YA
10.) Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Adult

(Thanks to Brent, Chloe, Katie, Isalys, and Lanna for providing the quotes)



  1. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I feel like people look at me differently if I pull out The Scarlet Letter than they do if I pull Pretty Little Liars out of my purse. Little do they know, I have read both. Just because someone reads YA books doesn't mean they are shallow or immature. In fact, its the opposite. Some people refuse to read YA simply because of its reputation. That is much more shallow and immature in my opinion. A true reader doesn't look down at any book. Any person who is taking the time to sit down and read a book instead of play angry birds on their iphone or sit mindlessly in front of CSI reruns day after day deserves respect. Herumph. :) Good post!

    -Jessica @ Chapter Chicks

  2. Great post. i completely agree, so much children's and YA is more engaging and better written than either formulaic adult genre fiction or current, often turgid, navel-gazing 'literary' fiction.

  3. Great post. I don't understand why anyone should be ashamed of reading YA, its my favourite genre to pick up, its what dominates my personal library and TBR shelf and it's books from this category that I recommend to anyone looking for a good read.

  4. Great post!I definitely guessed wrong on some of those posts. But it just proves that it really doesn't matter. Like you said every kind of style of writing in represented in both adult and YA literature. If we're going to get snobby, as if adult romance should be taken serious! Have you seen those covers! And the watch the people scoff. Watch them throw out, "well have you READ any?" And then fling it right back to them. Have YOU read any YA? No? Then stop freaking judging, man. People really shouldn't comment on things they know nothing about but such is the way of the world. Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one.

  5. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are quotes I would recognize anywhere, I love that you picked so many of my favorite books/series!:P

    But yes, I totally agree with you. It's about time we stop comparing the genres and just enjoy reading good books, no matter what age group they are written for.

  6. Thank you for addressing this issue, and making such a great post about it. I'm tired of this it's-YA-therefore-not-worthy-of-my-time attitude creeping up. Books are books, authors are authors, it shouldn't ever matter what genre/age group/time period it's in. I'm sharing this with my friends, hope you don't mind! :)



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