It feels like, when I was a kid, Young Adult meant something like “22 years old, married for a year, either freshly out of college or in the workforce for a few months/homemaking”. Now it means “14 years old, reading dystopias”.
Which makes me think about what chords are being strummed in the whole YA thing?
There are a ton of books (series, even) that strike chords within the YA market that have nothing to do with dystopias, of course. Harry Potter, for example. Twilight. John Green’s entire oeuvre. Judy Blume! Oh my gosh, Judy Blume.
So it’s not like you’ve got a huge glut of only dystopias (or fantasy, for that matter) out there as young adult fiction. It’s just that when there is yet another hit series that comes out, it seems like you’ve got a 50/50 shot of it relying on either the supernatural or on various young adults living in dystopias. By contrast, if there’s a hit one-shot, however, it seems to be most likely to be a romance kinda thing.
Which, I suppose, makes sense. What chords are most begging to be strummed in the YA heart?
Well, there’s the “escapist fantasy” thing. There’s the “holy cow, adult society is so very messed up and HOW CAN THEY NOT SEE THIS?” thing. And, of course, the whole “oh my gosh oh my gosh that one person in my class has the cutest smile I’ve ever seen, how come my stomach feels like a soccerball in the middle of a game whenever they walk in the room?” thing.
And if you can write a book (or a series!) that relies rather heavily on strumming one of those chords, you’ve got yourself something that is likely to do very well. Heck, mix two of them together and you’ve got yourself the makings of a hit series.
Leaving me to wonder “when in the heck did Young Adult switch from 22 to 14?”
So… what are you reading and/or watching?