According to some recent surveys and researches, the majority of readers of the so-called ‘young adult’ fiction are, in fact, quite grown-up people who can hardly be placed into this category.
But what it means is an entirely different question.
Some people are quick to accuse the modern society of stunted emotional and intellectual development – meaning that adult people today are psychologically stuck in adolescence and while they get older they never become, well, adults. And the fact that books and other media aimed at young adults increasingly often turn into multimillion franchises (take Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games, for example) serve as a yet another proof that our civilization turns into a civilization of eternal teenagers. It is one point of view.
Maybe They Are Just Good?
On the other hand, there are a lot of people who believe that young adult literature grows in popularity because it is, well, just pretty good. A well-written young adult book has all that we, in our hectic, stressful grown-up lives, crave: simple yet not primitive premise, clear-cut, sympathetic characters, thought-provoking situations and good narrative that doesn’t intimidate the reader by its incomprehensibility.
It is often said that Harry Potter made reading popular among the younger generation. We also should take into account that people who have grown up reading Harry Potter novels have become adults since then; and a lot of them retained the taste for similar literature, even if they do not qualify to be its target audience anymore. And it is more than likely that there will be more and more people with similar tastes – the lives of most people are complicated enough to desire for complicated reading in addition to that. Young adult books are easy to read and to get into – exactly what you need when you feel pressured by your everyday life.
Is This Division Justified?
And, after all, isn’t the subdivision of literature into age groups a little bit artificial? If it is enjoyable for children, why cannot it be enjoyable for grown-ups, if, of course, it is well-written? Really good children’s books retain all their charm whenever you sit down to read them: Chronicles of Narnia by Clive Lewis, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery are undeniably aimed at children; but adults will find a lot of interesting things in them as well. They may have different layers of meaning open for the people of different ages, they may attract us by their excellent language, they may be just interesting to read – so why deprive ourselves of this experience just because somebody said that you are too old to read them?
And we shouldn’t forget one final thing – reading books aimed at younger people make us feel younger ourselves. They remind us of what we were and what we strove to be. It is a very refreshing feeling – although we may have lost our connection with youth, we may find it again, at least while reading these books.