December 17, 2009

We're moving the discussion back to my place.

Let's move the discussion right here!

"So what is YA? Discussion started here:, went here:, then here:"

Thanks to @kashikat for pulling me into the discussion--now I'm bringing it back to my place!

So far, I've been able to discern that YA tends to have little to no subplot/side stories & plenty "adult" books feature young MC, so that doesn't make YA unique.

What do you guys think?


  1. I assumed an YA novel dealt with a protagonist in high school or younger and their problems that most teens go through.

    I also assumed that sex and violence is more toned down but I have been told I am wrong.

  2. I think the thing about YA really is the voice. I don't know how many times I've heard people read something that was most definitely YA and say, "I don't know, it just has that YA vibe or sound to it."

    It's all about the quickness, and I am not saying we all sound alike or anything--far from it, actually. It's just like this catchy almost rhythym that you find in a good YA book.

    I've found that my faveorite YA's all possess that funky can-do anything attitude. And, I don't mean the characters... I mean the story. That's what's so great, YA is such a versatile creature that you never know what it's going to be.

    Whoa, total soapbox there. :)

    Anyway... What is YA? It's an awesome genre. :)

  3. I definitely think age has something to do with it, but I don't buy that it's the only thing. An author at either World*Con or Cryptic Confusion said that YA often had to do with "firsts". He said that in life it is the time of first loves, first kisses, first times, etc. and that same newness was part of what makes YA special and different.

    I agree with Jamie that voice is a big part of it. There is a distinctly different energy to good YA. To me it's a little less can-do and a little more never-say-die. I often feel like adult characters need a reason to go on in novels, YA characters go on because that's just what they do.

  4. I think YA are books written for the in-between types - kids that are too old to read middle-grade and too young to search for books in the Fiction/literature or Romance sections at Barnes and Noble. I think that the characters in YA books tend to fall into the same age range as most of the readers (I say most because I'm 22 and still read YA).

  5. I agree that the voice is essential--there is definitely a "YA vibe." I just can't quite explain what it is. But I hadn't really thought about firsts; that's a great point. Firsts that's a huge part of YA--new/first time experiences and how they bring out/change a person.

  6. I think a YA voice has immediacy. I've noticed that a lot of YA novels tend to take place over a fairly short period of time (as in a few days to a few months), but boy, what changes happen in that short period of time!

    I wrestle with this a lot, especially when it comes to what Boss and I are trying to do (finding fiction for twentysomethings). For instance, PREP has a high school narrator, but it's adult. I think it's because the adult voice has perspective or scope on the situation. Same with Lorrie Moore's WHO WILL RUN THE FROG HOSPITAL, which is also about teenaged girls, but definitely has adult perspective on the few short months at Storyland!

  7. I have to agree with voice. Voice, attitude, everything being less analytical and more idealistic (in the perspective of the MC anyway). Definitely on it with the firsts. That's what makes YA so special when it's done right. It can send you back to the days were you weren't quite sure who you were and what you wanted out of life and conjure up those old feelings of self-doubt and, at the same time, "I can do anything" attitude.

  8. I think YA has to question everything. Adult readers want to know that certain aspects of the world are nailed-down and certain, but in YA, the characters are involved in the process of self-definition (as are the readers) and therefore every assumption gets questioned and not all of them get resolved.

    There's a certain "stability" in adult fiction, even that which has a young MC, which YA doesn't embrace. The questions seem to affect the character more as a whole (so the character and the character's life is less compartmentalized) and that creates a sense of flux which resonates with the YA reader.

    In my not-so-humble-opinion. :-)