Right. More YA. I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse.
But believe it or not, everything we discussed weeks ago was an introduction. I initially envisioned those first two articles as short paragraphs in a larger article. But every time I sat down to write, I found that I had too much to say.
However, I’m glad to report that we have reached the end of the line. We can finally discuss the topic that triggered my interest in the Young Adult genre a few weeks ago. Here’s the thing; YA gets a lot of hate.
Many readers take pride in their contempt toward YA, which fascinates me. If you don’t believe me, visit any popular Twilight Saga discussion thread online.
Hidden among the screaming fangirls is a contingent of voices that logged in for the express purpose of telling the Twilight fandom why their favourite book series sucks.
And this is not some fringe trend. Mainstream reviewers and entertainment pundits take every opportunity to throw shade at this genre. But why? Well, many voices have attempted to blame misogyny.
YA is a female-centric arena. From what I have seen, no other genre puts women in more leading roles than YA. In YA, the heroine takes center stage, and fans have argued that Young Adult novels (particularly fantasy) get a bad rap because they celebrate the things women love. As such, society rejects the genre because it rejects women.
After all, ask any conventional fantasy reader to explain their distaste for YA, and they will unequivocally lead with a rant against all the love triangle and romance-focused stories the genre tends to favour.
Every YA protagonist is an awkward, uncoordinated, clumsy girl that ultimately ascends to godhood, attaining the physical prowess and agility the men in their world could only dream of. These books are female power fantasies, and for that reason, readers disregard them.
I have heard Brandon Sanderson argue that YA for boys (such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson) displays similar weaknesses.
But people laud it because it glorifies men’s power fantasies. It allows them to revel in a world that extols the virtues of masculinity.
I don’t buy any of those arguments. Two thoughts come to mind. First, many women criticize YA. Some of them hate the way it promotes toxic relationships. If you don’t follow the genre, the heroines tend to obsess over men that beat them down with physical and emotional abuse.
These heroines usually change their abusers for the better, which, according to critics, encourages young girls to pursue unhealthy relationships.
Additionally, YA romanticizes tragedy. Seventeen-year-old Bella from Twilight threw herself off a cliff because 104-year-old Edward broke up with her. And some readers praised the act as a swoon-worthy manifestation of Bella’s dedication to Edward.
One other complaint of note is YA’s penchant for condemning femininity – many YA heroines are edgy tomboys with foul mouths and a variety of vices.
Personally, I think the hate for YA has simpler origins. What does this genre do? It asks the reader to perceive life through the eyes of a teenager, to walk in their shoes. And clearly, many adults have a poor opinion of that demographic, so they reject that concept wholeheartedly.
Why else would this subject attract so much vitriol? Don’t forget that most YA readers are older females. People don’t understand why a 50-year-old woman would choose to read stories with a 15-year-old protagonist.
It rubs them the wrong way, and they can’t help but respond with insults. Then again, you should read whatever tickles your fancy. It is not anyone’s business.