Today’s discussion might be a controversial one, but sometimes those are the best ones. I’m going to discuss something that I often get annoyed with and that’s YA as a genre. YA is not a genre it’s a category or age group. Fiction and Non-Fiction are genres that fall under categories. Genre is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as “a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.” Also according to the New Oxford American Dictionary category is defined as “a class or division of people or things regarded as having particular shared characteristics.” Books in the YA category (not genre) usually have different shared characteristics depending on the genre. In contemporaries, you won’t have characters wielding swords and fighting monsters, and you won’t see characters in a fantasy novel riding their bikes to the nearest book store (except for maybe Urban Fantasy or Magical Realism). These two characters could be the same age which would be the shared characteristic. I see the YA category as readers ages 18-26.
I know that this is confusing. Maybe I will write another post that goes a little more in-depth and break down category vs. genre more and then get into sub-genres if it will help.
Please discuss in the comments!
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I agree it’s not a genre, but I can see why some people think it is. There are characteristics that tend to tie different genres of YA (fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary) together, and oftentimes I think someone can tell by the “feel” of the book whether it’s supposed to be YA or adult. For instance, YA books have teen protagonists and tend to be less gory and graphic than adult books and often have optimistic endings. Even when the endings are sad, I think there’s more hope than there would be in many adult books. For instance, I think people rioted about the ending of Allegiant because what Roth did simply “isn’t done” in YA. An adult book? Sure. But not YA. Or I was reading A Darker Shade of Magic recently and baffled why people keep calling it YA when it’s done, and one of the defining differences for me was how many needless and random deaths there were. It *could* be done in YA, but it’s just not.
So basically I think people who say it’s a genre are catching onto the fact that there are points that apply to the age category of YA as a whole that don’t apply to adult books, and I think they have a point there.
That’s an excellent point about how there are characteristics that tie different genres together. I also agree with the endings of books written for YA being more hopeful and optimistic. With A Darker Shade of Magic, I can see why some would call it YA. I think it’s one of those books that’s written for adults but also appeals to the YA audience. All I remember about the ending of Allegiant was how shocked I was that it ended the way it did and how much I hated the ending.