The nice thing about books and storytelling is that there is typically no wrong way to create a story. The genre pool is deep enough that most people need a lifeguard disguised as a bookseller to point them in the right direction when they’re trying to front stroke.
The only thing that matters is how the words of a beloved storyteller affect you personally. Dragons are attacking and the princess is in another castle, but that world still found a way to speak to you.
Much like the way that someone who is snobbish about your favorite sub genre speaks to you in the middle of a bookstore or across the internet. They didn’t have to say that your tastes are embarrassing.
If they’re anything like me, they didn’t even have to speak to another book lover at all. We like our space.
However, nothing upsets me, a book lover with more than 500 books in her own personal collection, than listening to anyone badmouth my favorite category: young adult. Reading is subjective to whomever decided to pick up their device of choice and cozy up with some text. Plenty of people enjoy reading and there are people find it to be a pointless for everyday life.
To hear someone tell me that I am too old or they think I really learn to enjoy something more mature instead of leave me to what I love is insulting. Reading is such a success because it means something different for everyone who engages with text, no matter what the book is.
“I’m too old for teen books” or “I should finally try something a bit more mature” are usually the first two sentences I hear out of someone’s mouth if they choose to speak. Mostly, I just pretend not to notice the way their eyes roll or the way their lips curl into a smirk when I offhandedly mention I enjoyed The Maze Runner more than any of the Neil Gaiman or James Patterson that I’ve at that point tried out.
Young adult gets backlash because it’s geared towards a younger audience but still attracts readers in their upper thirties and beyond. The stories are more captivating, the worlds are richer, or the guy who played in the movie is cute, who knows what the reasoning is except that more than teenagers are reading these worlds.
YA writers don’t have to use dramatic metaphors or rely on gritty, realistic storytelling to write a successful book and can still sell as many copies as a big name like John Grisham does.
Not to forgot that more young adult authors understand the need for diversity in media they produce. Movements like We Need Diverse Books promote writers of color and writers from LGBT backgrounds as well as books with diverse casts and almost every title they promote is young adult because adult fiction has become scarce for those voices.
A book lover like myself is lucky enough to work a part time job in a Barnes and Noble. I cannot even begin to count on one hand the number of titles about white women looking for a perfect man written by white men in adult fiction.
Even with nonprofits and engrossing numbers, the industry itself has started to tiptoe around young adult, even with so many new teen titles earning star reviews and landing big movie deals.
Bookstores like mine have product broken up into several categories. Typically, all books that have some application to the real world, from cooking to history to religion, are put in the same corner of the store.
Generic adult fiction takes up the most room in the store and sits somewhere easily accessible to the most people; some stores are lucky enough to have mystery, romance, science fiction/fantasy, and thriller as well as the section where your English professor decides what the course readings are going to be for your semester.
Young adult is either mixed in with children’s literature or in the furthest corner from the door. Now you can buy your narwhal hand puppets with your diverse readings and act like the children at heart that you are! That’s quite the step down from those old wives tales about how putting all of your belongings in a crate and taking a trip to Bali can change your entire world.
This idea that every part of the human being has to grow up and that the reader inside of us has to sit in the same corner of the bookstore has to stop. Projection of taste onto someone else’s preference of art is a choosing ceremony in one of those many hated dystopian books that those people don’t want to be associated with anyway.
To the person who laughs and tells someone that they’re wrong because their favorite book is young adult: I’d rather read about a girl younger than me shooting at the men who ruined her life and standing up for herself than the overly successful divorcee losing everything but abandoning everything else in that made sense for a new, younger lover somewhere in New York City.