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Posts Tagged ‘female protag’

I didn’t used to read much YA fiction (otherwise known as Young Adult, otherwise known as Teen). But once I decided that I wanted to write in the YA genre, I felt it behooved me to get to know the current marketplace a little better. So around two or two and a half years ago, I became an avid reader of YA. 

The funny thing is, I was thrilled to be reading it. I would gleefully hang out in the YA section of the bookstore and collect a stack of glossy, intriguing novels that I couldn’t wait to read. It hadn’t occurred to me to shop in the Teen section for years, except when I was checking to make sure Robin McKinley didn’t have a new book out. But now that I had a Serious Purpose, (reading YA was research after all, and research is work!) I quickly developed a YA habit.

I recently suggested to a friend of mine on Twitter that she blog about what it is she likes about speculative YA (because speculative is her thing). After reading her post, I began thinking about why I like YA, and I came to realize that really what I was thinking about was why I like YA as an adult. I’m not alone in this preference either; I keep reading how more and more adults are reading YA. Perhaps it began with Harry Potter (although technically some of Harry Potter is MG (middle grade) fiction, but I’m splitting hairs), and perhaps it continued with Twilight. But it hasn’t stopped there. (There are many articles about this subject. Here’s a sample.)

So here is my list of reasons I like to read YA (hooray, a list!):

1. Close POV: I love reading in close POV. I really enjoy first person, but I also like close 3rd. As a reader, I don’t tend to like head-hopping and massive numbers of POVs quite as well (although there are exceptions, if well done). Most YA these days is in close POV, and the majority in first person. (Granted, some of it is in first person present tense, of which I wasn’t such a fan, but I’ve gradually become more accustomed to it.)

2. Pacing: Generalization alert! While not always true (unfortunately), I’ve found that on the whole YA authors pay more attention to pacing issues in their novels. They’re exciting, they’re suspenseful, I want to find out what happens next, and the chapters end on a rise that makes it hard to put the book aside and go to sleep.

3. Plot Tropes: I enjoy many of the common plot tropes featured in YA. I’m also a fan of John Hughes, so there you go. I like reading about the social dynamics of high school because I still find them truly fascinating (it helps that I’ve spent a lot of time with teens in the past several years so high school doesn’t feel so far removed from my life). I am generally fond of dystopias, which are hot hot hot right now in YA. I also like love triangles, budding romance, forbidden love, and family conflict, other staples of the genre. And I haven’t yet gotten tired of coming-of-age stories.

4. Life as Discovery: I love seeing the world (whether our modern-day world, the future, or another world altogether) through the eyes of a teenager. I love watching as they experiment, question, and explore what it is to be alive. I love the ambiguities and moral dilemmas they face. I love how even the most cynical teenage character doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does. I love the potential, that this character is still at the outset of his life and so many things are possible for him. The teenage years (and early 20s) are a time of big change and discovery for most people, and I love to read about it and watch the characters unfold.

5. Kick-Ass Female Protagonists: More YA is directed towards females than males. I hear this fact bemoaned time and time again, because we want to be encouraging male teens to read too, etc. etc. And I don’t disagree. But I love the female protagonists of so many YA books. They aren’t kick ass in a way that seems really far removed from my life (see some adult urban fantasy); they’re kick ass while struggling and staying real. If they have a special talent, they usually don’t have complete mastery over it. They make bad decisions, they’re swayed by their feelings and prejudices, sometimes they’re even just plain petty. It’s such a relief to read about these flawed teenage heroines, who are brave and silly at the same time. Because I am brave and silly at the same time too.

I could probably think of several more reasons I enjoy YA, but now it’s your turn. What aspects of YA do you most enjoy?

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