Why YA Matters

Young Adult literature has been around for a long time but it really hit its peak in the late 2000’s with the popularization of books like Twilight and The Hunger Games. The definition of YA is media centered around teenagers and young adults, written for teenagers and young adults. YA will always be relevant, whether or not you find it trashy. It shapes what is being made in movies and tv shows, and some of the most wealthy and influential authors are young adult authors. 

YA holds a special place in my heart. Whether or not you love it, it’s important. Young Adult media has shaped me as a person and helped me become who I am. When I was lost, I turned to reading to guide me. You could always find me in the YA section of any bookstore. It’s comfortable, relatable. It is people my age going through crazy adventures and figuring out who they are. Reading has become a defining trait of mine, and that is mostly thanks to YA. Without it, I would not be who I am today. It gave me a voice when I needed one. Because I feel so in love with YA, I tried to find others who felt the same. That is where I found BookTube, Bookstagram, and general book internet. This community has my heart. When I only felt heard by fictional characters, there was suddenly a community of real people who felt the same things and wanted to hear me too. YA is so important to me, and it could mean something to you as well, whether or not you love the stories or the community.      

There are so many other reasons as to why YA matters. Why I love YA may be why you fall in love with it too. First and foremost, it offers representation for young adults. They can see themselves in characters and worlds which they have never experienced. What it does for teenagers and young adults is fantastic, but adults and more mature young people have a purpose in YA as well. Young Adult media is easier to digest than adult media; that’s the entire point of it. This is great for people who love to read but feel like they don’t have the time to get into a massive story. Besides the convenience of young adult, it has a deeper impact as well. It can help adults feel seen when they didn’t as a kid. My mom, for example, loves reading YA featuring gay and lesbian main characters because they did not have those books and stories growing up. She finally has a space where someone is telling her story, or stories like hers. It also brings about tough topics and conversations that you want to know more about, but don’t know where to start. For example, if you wanted to learn more about transgender stories, but felt overwhelmed by the information available, reading a fiction story about trans characters could really help open the door into your own personal education. YA is so much more than shallow teen stories. It helps people, no matter their age, either find themselves or be able to relive moments of their youth they either had or missed out on. YA matters for those who love it.  

There are thousands of books in the YA genre, so here are some recommendations both hyped and underrated. Also, I have made a list of popular YA books that you may find less enjoyable as an adult. Please note, some of the titles contain content that may be triggering. I will do my best to list them, but please conduct further research if that may be an issue for you. I have made a Goodreads shelf for all the books I recommend, so if you want more information on any of the titles, click here.  

 

Books that Deserve the Hype:

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    1. TW: Police Brutality 

  2. Dear Martin by Nic Stone 

    1. TW: Police Brutality

  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky  

    1. TW: Child Molestation, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts 

  4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi 

  5. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 

    1. This is a trilogy with a companion novella 

  6. The Diviners by Libba Bray 

    1. This is a four-book series 

  7. Scythe by Neal Shusterman 

    1. This is a trilogy 

  8. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender  

    1. TW: Blackmail, Transphobia 

  9. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 

    1. This is a duology 

  10. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

    1. TW: Homophobia 

 

Underrated Books that Deserve More Love:

  1. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi 

    1. TW: Child Molestation 

  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed 

    1. TW: Sexism, Sexual Assault, Rape 

  3. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim 

    1. This is a duology 

  4. Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry 

  5. Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May 

  6. Like a Love Song by Abdi Nazemian

    1. TW: Homophobia, AIDS related death  

  7. Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan

    1. TW: Abortion  

  8. Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 

    1. TW: Homophobia 

  9. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu 

  10. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho    

 

Books that I think are a Waste of Time as an Adult: 

  1. The Selection series by Kiera Cass

  2. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas  

  3. Twilight by Stephanie Meyers 

  4. Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard  

  5. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare 

  6. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 

  7. Caraval series by Stephanie Garber 

  8. Cinder series by Marissa Meyer  

  9. Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins 

  10. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell  

 

The YA genre is vibrant and fun. It has its issues, but if you find the right people and the right stories, you could be entering a whole new world that will expand your horizons.