|More than half of readers of |
young adult literature are adults.
1. Adult books are weird and getting weirder - In my opinion, there are two types of popular adult fiction out there: the type that tries to shock you with graphic sex, violence, or bizarre situations (50 Shades anyone?) or the type that tries to challenge you with it's literary elitism. I'd put The Time Keeper in this second category. Picking a book off the adult best-seller list can be like Russian roulette. Will this novel be entertaining, give me nightmares, cause headaches by forcing my brain into ever increasing complexity of plot and character? I'm not sure.
In contrast, young adult literature has boundaries. I think there's a sense when you pick up a YA book that you can still count on a relatively non-graphic, entertaining read, with a usually happy or satisfying ending.
2. Young adult books delve into character - When you pull the curtain every time your characters get hot and bothered or throw a punch, you've got to develop character and plot in other ways. That means, young adult authors often walk the reader through their character's emotional growth. Those who write in the romance genre also do this exceedingly well. YA and romance authors know that the journey takes place within. They make their characters easy to connect to in a personal way. This connection drives the reader forward through the tale, putting them tightly within the character's head. If you are an older reader, this can give you the illusion of feeling young again, reliving youthful experiences through the character.
3. Readers today want escape and entertainment - People lead exceedingly busy and stressful lives today. When they buy a book, they don't want to feel like they're doing homework for an English literature class. They want to be entertained. Young adult books in some ways are predictable and are almost always fast moving. I think many adult readers run for the safety and predictability that are hallmarks of the genre. And why not?
4. Screening books for younger relatives - One thing about young adult literature is there is a huge spectrum between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and no clear rating system. Eleven and twelve year olds often find themselves in limbo, no longer interested in the content of middle grade fiction but not ready for much in the young adult category. For this reason, parents of 11-12 year olds, who often happen to fall in the 30-44 age group, often become voracious consumers of young adult fiction, screening the books for their kids. Like anything else, if the book is engaging, it is only natural that these readers spread the word to their adult friends. And since so much of book buying is social these days, you see viral reading activity bloom across this age bracket.
All of this of course is only theory, based on my experience as a mom, an author, and a voracious YA reader. What's your opinion? Why do you think more adults are reading YA?
G.P. Ching is the author of The Soulkeepers Series and a variety of short fiction. She specializes in cross-genre paranormal stories, loves old cemeteries, and enjoys a good ghost tour. She lives in central Illinois with her husband, two children, and one very demanding guinea pig.