Young adult (YA) fiction (generally defined as books for 12- to 18-year-olds) has become increasing popular with adult readers in recent years.
Perhaps this phenomenon began with J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. Both adults and young people were enchanted by Rowling’s unique characters and twisting plots. Harry Potter and his friends grew into their teen years during the course of the series, and the books became more dramatically intense, drawing in even more adult readers.
Adults were also drawn to Stephenie Meyer’s incredibly popular “Twilight” vampire series. Along the same plot lines, L. J. Smith’s “The Vampire Diaries” and P.C. Cast’s “House of Night” series also found readers from age 12 up through adults. The chills and inhuman menace that terrified characters in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” continue to draw in readers of varied ages.
Although tales of vampires and wizards remain popular, distopian fiction is the current rising star in young adult publishing. A distopian fiction presents the struggles of persons in harsh, typically repressive societies where rulers control all aspects of the lives of their citizens. George Orwell’s classic “1984” is an enduring example of this type of literary work. Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy portrays a society where the leaders in the Capitol decree an annual rite where teenagers are compelled to fight to the death on live TV. Readers of all ages are cheering for heroine Katniss Everdeen as she rebels against this horrific ritual.
Other popular series in this genre include Veronica Roth’s “Divergent,” Ally Condie’s “Matched,” Scott Westerfeld’s “The Uglies” and Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” trilogy. In these enthralling stories teens fight back against legislated conformity, arranged marriages, thought control and even government-issued standards for personal beauty. These battles are ongoing, and the rebels are not always the victors. Adults appreciate these scary futuristic tales.
Two YA novels of Nazi-controlled Europe have found many adult readers. Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief” examines the daily struggles of German civilians trying to survive World War II. Zusak’s heroine fights to save her beloved books from government censors and Allied bombs. Elizabeth Wein’s “Code Name Verity” is the harrowing tale of two young British women working with the French Resistance. Will they survive when captured by the enemy?
Popular authors of books for adults have realized how lucrative YA publishing has become. Best selling authors such as James Patterson, Carl Hiassen, Frank Peretti and Melody Carlson are now writing many titles specifically for teens. Visit the library’s young adult section to discover the variety of its offerings.