One of the things I have never understood is why young adult fiction is considered lesser.
You can read the arguments everywhere: young adult novels are “see-through”; they have mediocre themes; the writing is sub-par; they’re produced by the machine; the plots are weak; etc. etc. etc.
So why is this? A lot of the most popular novels of recent years are young adult novels. Take Twilight, the Divergent series, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars. These novels are all targeted and marketed “young adult,” yet they receive so much flack. Twilight is considered weak, and is made fun of in the media constantly (although that is dying down). The Hunger Games deals with extreme government issues and dictatorship, yet this is downplayed for the “romance” between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta (which anyone who has actually read the books will understand has been played up for the movies). The Fault in Our Stars, when the movie came out, was one of those movies where people said “it’s good…. for a teen movie.”
Even children’s novels, such as Harry Potter, seem to get fairer reviews and opinions, and wider readership among people of all ages.
So what gives?
I am still uncertain of my opinions towards this topic, but I have a proposal: it is less about the novels than about the target audience: young women.
Teenage girls and young women have one of the poorest representations I can think of. They are the target of ridicule, and constantly told their problems aren’t “real” problems. They are either sluts or prudes. They are lesser; less smart, less pretty, less important than their older peers. Teenage girls have a double whammy: they are women, and they are young.
If a young women likes something, then it must be basic, filled with cheesy romance, and/or dulled down. Young women read young adult fiction, therefore, young adult fiction is weak and unsatisfying. It doesn’t matter what the novels say, or what they teach their readers. What matters is that young women, or teenage girls, are the ones reading them, and everyone knows that teenage girls are terrible judges of taste because their brains are controlled by hormones, and filled with boys and pathetic problems.
Young adult fiction gets a bad rap because young women are considered some of the lowest of the low in our society.