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Yes, You Can (& Should) Read YA Books In Your 20s

We all have those friends. “You NEVER read Harry Potter?” or “How have you never watched Star Wars?” Personally, I know I’m simply shocked when someone has never been transported into the Wizarding World or the Capitol of Panem in The Hunger Games. And I can admit I have outward disdain if you say you’ve never seen a Marvel movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on the receiving end of it, too. It’s easy to feel the immediate FOMO of fandoms and tween fiction you never got into when you were younger. (Yup, that’s me. Never read or seen Twilight). 

Enter: The Percy Jackson series. Straight from the back of the first book, “12-year-old Percy Jackson is on the most dangerous quest of his life.” Greek mythology mixed with modern day America, this fantasy-adventure series debuted in 2005 to much acclaim. I bought the original five-book collection as *an investment.* I typically only use the library, but it caught my eye in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble and I knew that if I actually purchased it, I would hold myself accountable for reading it. Nothing like having a complete, matching set right? I needed to have a loved and worn collection to pass down to my children, of course. 

I’m sure you’re shocked that I had never read the series before. I’m 23 for crying out loud! This is a children’s book, is it not? Yes, and it’s great for young readers who are stepping into the next reading level or looking to branch into series. And that was me, once upon a time. I cracked The Lightning Thief long ago when everyone else was diving in, too. (Unfortunately, I never made it to the end. It was so eerie reading about Medusa and the casino scene in the confines on my twin bed late into the night. I was too scared to continue and never picked it back up.)

I won’t give too many spoilers just in case you haven’t read the Percy Jackson series either (own it!), but this series sucked me in so fast. The characters are relatable, the setting continuously changes with fantastic American influences, and the plot is simple. What’s not to like?

As I was reading the first book, I even thought to myself, is this too childish? (Rick Riordan would be so disappointed to hear me say that, I’m sure.) But the answer is no. Not only is Greek mythology attainable at all ages, but so are books. With so much #BookTok, Goodreads, and external influences on the books you should read, no wonder you may feel a little shame stepping back a few reading levels, or even diving into a genre no one else you know likes. A book may be marketed to a younger audience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something relatable and enjoyable in it for yourself — themes in Percy Jackson like friendship, bravery, and history never go out of style.

It’s pretty convenient that right as I’ve become invested in this fandom, a Disney+ series called Percy Jackson and the Olympians is set to release on Dec. 20, and a sixth book in the series, called Percy Jackson and the Chalice of the Gods, hit shelves on Sept. 26. I can’t wait to continue my interest in this series and this genre through Riodrian’s plethora of other mythology series. Plus, luckily for me as a new reader, I have also never seen the infamous 2010 movie with Logan Lerman (and I don’t think I will). I was able to fully world-build with my own imagination with no external influence — something that’s hard to find these days with so many book-to-movie productions. It was a fantastic chance to exercise that imagination muscle completely, something that I plan to continue strengthening.

Even if it’s not meant for your age group, it’s never too late to get into a fandom. In fact, I’d argue the whole point of fandoms is finding a group of people who love something just as much as you do, no matter who they are, or their age. Now excuse me while I go read the newly-released, illustrated version of Harry Potter and enjoy every second as a proud Ravenclaw.

Maeve Reilly

CU Boulder '21

Maeve is a full-time Events Associate at Her Campus Media. After three amazing years at Her Campus CU Boulder, interning, and being a national writer, she just couldn't get enough HC! She graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder (sko buffs!) in December 2021 with a degree in business.