Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I have a deep love for young adult and middle grade books. I’ve read so many of them, in fact, that I like to think of myself the self-proclaimed expert at work. I love these stories about younger people for one, very important reason – I love to read to escape. There is nothing in the world that I love more than finding a story with a world that I can be completely consumed by. In my personal experience, I have found no one that accomplishes that goal better than teen and middle grade authors.
Now I’m sure that I will get some flack for this – mutterings of “well you’ve obviously never read the works of *insert prominent adult author here*” and you could be right – I haven’t. To be fair, I don’t read a lot in the sci-fi/fantasy section, where world building is so important. Not in adult fiction anyway – but I love spending time in the fantasy worlds of young adult authors.
From Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles – where I get to relive all of my favourite fairy tales in a very different and non-traditional way, to Marie Lu’s near future sci-fi in WarCross, I have gotten to take a glimpse into genres that once intimidated the crap out of me. The characters that frequent these YA worlds tend to not take themselves too seriously, and if they do, they’re brought down a peg or two pretty quickly. These authors have created worlds that I am ecstatic to spend some time in. A place for me to go when I don’t want to worry that I have to go to work tomorrow or that there is a mountain of laundry waiting for me. These worlds are a refuge from every day monotony – and I really don’t personally care that they came out of the teen section (or the middle grade section for that matter).
There is something about writing for young adults and children that keeps authors from taking their worlds too seriously – although there are obvious exceptions, this is a statement that I have found to be true in the works that I’ve read. When you’re writing for a younger audience, nothing is off limits. No one is going to judge you for creating something illogical or unrealistic – and those things are sometimes what makes reading these books so fun. A child’s imagination is an amazing thing, and as an author that writes for children, you get to expand on that without fear of repercussions.
There was a Slate article a few years ago that really made me want to be an advocate for adults that read fiction marketed toward a younger crowd. The article looked down upon them, saying that they should “be ashamed of themselves” and that it should be a requirement to “pick up something with substance”. I’m not sure that I have ever been so angry in my entire life. How DARE they? I don’t care if your idea of a great Sunday night read is The Little Blue Truck or if you are on your 90th re-read of Fifty Shades of Grey, if you’re reading, and you’re enjoying yourself then the opinion of some ignorant, uninformed, snob (from a website that I hadn’t previously heard of) doesn’t matter in the slightest.
I was going to post the link to the article, but there is already enough stupid in the world and you guys don’t need to even waste your time reading it. I’ve read YOUNG ADULT FICTION portraying characters with a higher IQ than the author of that article. So there’s that.