Tuesday, January 19, 2010

YA Books - Why?

This question occurred to me the other day.

There are many romance readers who also read YA novels. This has always been a head scratcher for me. As I've mentioned before, I like sex in my books and sexualizing a young teen is very icky to me. With the rise of books like Twilight which is very much a love story I wonder why I can't get on board with YA books. I just have no temptation to pick one up.

Having puzzled on this for years it occurred to me that maybe it's because I read YA books when I was a YA.

Hear me out.

As a young teen/tween, I read YA books. I didn't discover romance books until I was 18. For me, it was teen angst and romance (or lack thereof) that rambled through my head. I didn't know it then but I could have been a voracious reader if I had a) the money to buy more books and b) felt comfortable enough to use the library system.

Since I was on a limited budget and I couldn't afford the late fees or the pondering stares (all in my head of course) my reading stash was tiny. Still, I enjoyed all those stories so much. I remember the Sweet Valley High phase - boy, I had a lot of those books. What I don't remember as well are the books that I read as I got older. The ones that touched on relationships and sex more than any other books I had read.

Then at 18 I discovered romance books and I never looked back.

So I'm wondering if maybe I already had my fill of YA books. Since I don't have kids I have no need to read YA books to be knowledgeable about what my kids are reading. In reality there is no open door for me to walk in or fall through.

So for those readers who read YA books and who left their YA -hood behind more than a few years ago - what do you think?

Did you read YA books when you were a YA or did you miss that phase in your reading? I know many romance readers came to romance much earlier than I did so I wondered if that made a difference.

If not, what draws you to YA books?


Mollie said...

I think my obsession with YA is because the quantity AND quality of YA books are so much better nowadays. I read YA books when I was a teen and loved them. Still love them at 27. I think there's still a scared/angsty/angry/insertyouradjectiveofchoice teenager in all of us and YA lit appeals to the teen in all of us.

Yes, I prefer some hanky panky in my books. But when I switch to YA I KNOW there's no romance shenanigans, its a completely different genre and I'm ok with that.

And sometimes they're just plain FANTASTIC stories! :)

Jessica W. (Book Bound) said...

For myself personally, YA is not my first choice. But as mentioned on my blog a few days ago when I announced my YA giveaway, 2009 was a year for a LOT of good YA.

I am a romance reader all the way and admit that I like 'smut' in my books. Lol. But I think I was so impressed with the YA genre this past year because the actual stories, the premise for the books took on a whole new life.

I am a para-freak, so after Twilight made such a big bang (for the record, I am not a Twilight fan), it seems the majority of YA took a turn in the same direction and paranormal became the 'it' thing.

The biggest issue that I have with YA is it simply doesn't have a mature enough voice for me to handle. Sometimes I just want to strangle the characters for being so...stupid. Lol.

So, there's my two cents. : )

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mollie although I also don't understand The Twilight Phenomenon myself (insert fan thunderbolt here) I read YA because they have very interesting stories as well.

Wendy said...

I came of age when if you wanted to read YA it was either Sweet Valley High (seriously, just shoot me) or Nancy Drew. I loved Nancy, so she scratched my itch until I was able to move on to grown-up books (9th grade-ish?) - and then I was strictly a mystery reader outside of the occasional Victoria Holt or Jude Deveraux novel.

Frankly, today's teenagers are so incredibly spoiled by the wealth in today's YA literature. The ungrateful snots ;-)

I don't NEED sex in my romance novels. In fact, I've been known to read a skanky "dirty" erotica story then pick up a Harlequin Romance right after. But that's how I roll. All this being said? The closest thing I've come to romance in my limited YA reading is the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, which is more "chick-lit for teen girls" than "romance" IMHO.

At the end of the day I've liked YA novels for the same reason I like grown-up novels - the characters. If I believe in the characters I'll follow them just about anywhere.

Oh and as for Twilight? Do. Not. Get. It. At. All. I made it to about Chapter 8 of the first book and couldn't take it anymore. My brain was melting while screaming "Please make it stop!" So I did. Heh.

C2 said...

The only YA thing I've read since I was maybe 13-ish is The Host. I read it while I was on vacay - due to stormy weather keeping us from a port, I ran out of books (the horror!) and checked out The Host from the ship's library (sadly out of date, romance-wise). Would I have ever picked that book up in a bookstore? Not in a million years. But it was very good, I must say. And I have no desire at all to read the Twilight series. None.

How is Ms Pixie, btw? Is she fixed yet? ;)

CindyS said...

Mollie - I wondered if the stories were just that much better than what I read as a YA. I mean, after Judy Blume there didn't seem to be anything for a teen to read.

Right, different genre - I think Twilight put it in my head that most were romances - gah. Some days I wonder where my head is! ;)

Jessica W. - I'm a para freak too!

That would be another point for why I may not be reading YA - I don't know how many embarrassing situations come up in a YA or how those over hormonal days are portrayed but squirming with flashbacks to my teens are not something I'm comfortable with! I groan over things I said last week - going back to my 'less than brilliant' teen days might send me to therapy!

EmeraldFire - I may need to step out of this box I'm in ;)

Wendy - I'll have to watch for your YA selections - I enjoyed the movie of Twilight but to read it? Not sure I could do it. Maybe I've forgotten all my teen ways and can't relate.

C2 - Host is one of those books I've thought about reading but you know, just thought ;) It sounded intriguing but again, maybe I'm too jaded for YA.

And thanks for asking about Pixie - she's back home and all fixed up. Scared to death of me after the tackling that went on the day before. It'll take me days and days to get her trust back again!


Mollie said...

I also think people underestimate YA characters/voices. Yes some of the characters can be a little annoying. Only because we've been through that stage, we've grown up some of the characters haven't. But there are also some serious themes tackled in YA lit. Rape, drugs, abuse, etc., etc.

I subscribe to a YAlit listserv and there's always outrage by some member of some community somewhere who doesn't want their kid reading "porn" or "smut" or whatever they call it. But what they don't understand, and one librarian hit it on the nose: " . . . kids are living stories every day that we wouldn't let them read." Not every kid is lucky enough to live a Sweet Valley High/90210 lifestyle. And a lot of YA lit is reflecting that.

I think it's a shame that Twilight which, as much as I enjoy the cheezyness of it, is one of the WORST examples of YA lit. There are amazing YA lit authors such as Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, Laurie Halse Anderson (realistic fiction), Ellen Hopkins, Laura Weiss, Suzanne Collins & Kristen Cashore (Fantasy), etc., etc., etc. and everyone seems to think YA lit is all like Twilight. What a shame!

I re-read some Judy Blume a couple of years ago, as blasphemous at it is to say, I like some of the newer YA books better....

C2 said...

Pixie's home = YAY!! :o)

The Host was really quite good. It's looooonnnnng (another reason I picked it to read)...egad, the comments in the elevators, etc. on the way to and from our cabin. LOL

nath said...

Hmmm, I read YA novels from time to time, but I have to say that I'm very selective when it comes to them. I usually choose the fantasy/urban fantasy ones... Like the past year, I've read The Thief series, Darkest Powers trilogy... and recently Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

I stay clear from any YA where the stories focus on the characters and their growth and relationships. I've said it in the past and still now, it's really hard to believe that a teenager of 16 y.o. would get a HEA ending...