Should “Old” Adults Read Young Adult Novels?
I am fifty-one years old. Today I found myself in a conversation with someone who was at least that old (he had gray hair, and it didn’t appear to be premature). The topic of our conversation was young adult novels that we liked, which raises an interesting question – should adults who have matured past the twenty-something stage of life read novels aimed at a young adult audience.
One of my children asked me a similar question not long ago. I was talking about a book I had read (or was reading, I don’t remember) and my son, who’s twenty, said, “Why do you read young adult books?” That’s a good question. I mean, is a middle-aged man reading a young adult book like the kid who’s too big playing in the fun-zone at the mall?
I say, no (no big surprise, right) and here’s why. Young adult doesn’t mean childish, or at least it doesn’t have to. Like any other genre, there are good YA novels and some that are not so good. The good ones are written well and have compelling themes, like any good book. Now, I haven’t always been a fan of YA literature. It was The Hunger Games drew me in. Knowing nothing about the story, I watched the movie and was immediately fascinated by the world Suzanne Collins had created, enough to read the book and the next two in the series.
I’ll admit that I have a thing for dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories, so this was right up my alley. But it was the skillful writing and the treatment of the themes that made the book so compelling, and isn’t that what makes a good book, good? And if it is, why should the audience be limited to the world of young adults?
The characters of YA novels indeed are themselves, young adults, and the themes are crafted to appeal to a young adult reader. But that shouldn’t dissuade an “older” reader from enjoying the literature. It may even add to the pleasure of it; who doesn’t like to relive youthfulness. Young doesn’t have to mean unsophisticated. (I would prefer some of the YA books were less “adult” in their themes and content.) Seeing the world through the eyes of a young person can be refreshing and compelling for those of us who are a little bit older.
So, even though this might seem like a shameless appeal for you who are no longer twenty-something to read my book The New World, it’s more of a reflection on why this genre appeals to people outside of it’s target audience. If you, like me, are intrigued by the world of YA literature and want to find some books you might enjoy, here are a couple of links that will help you get started. But first, a word of warning: I haven’t read all of these books, and can’t vouch for them regarding their writing style or content. So, I would suggest that if you find one you are interested in, check out some reviews to make sure it fits your standards and desires.