The young adult (YA) genre has really grown over the years. I was an avid reader when I was a teenager. In fact, I probably read more books as a teenager than I do now (let’s hear it for adult life, responsibilities and all that jazz). However, I believe I have discovered some of the best young adult books in the recent years. So I ask the question, is it just me or has the YA book game become stronger over the past few years?
Many of you may believe that the teen section in bookstores is filled with youngsters. I am here to burst your bubble as I have seen many people around my age, and much older, browsing the teen section for their next read. At the age of 30-years-old, I discovered some incredible YA books and nearly half of the books on my to-be read pile are from this genre.
What do you picture when you think of young adult books?
For many people, there is this stereotypical thought of these books portraying the life of teenagers and all the troubles in this stage of life. While some of these books do follow this theme, the majority of books explore worlds and characters beyond your imagination. Clearly these characters are not living the kind of teenage life I remember. There is also a belief that these books are considered “easy” reads. I have read plenty of YA books that took all the brain power I have to remember the complex characters, follow the book map to understand the geography, try to properly pronounce words from the made up language (and fail horribly) and link together all the crazy events that were unfolding. My old brain needed rest after some of these 600 page monsters.
Fierce Female Characters:
Most of the YA books I have read have some of the fiercest female characters going into battle, learning magic, fighting against beasts and discovering new worlds. There have been times when I sat back and thought, “wow, the girl in this book is 15 years younger than me and she just defended her whole country from death by flying beasts and a psychotic magic wielding king. Meanwhile, I’m on my second cup of tea and have not moved from this couch in over 2 hours”. Sometimes these characters motivate you to do better, be more adventurous or just get off the couch and stretch a bit.
It is always refreshing to read the journey of strong female characters, and there are plenty of YA female characters that are fearless, strong and captivating on every level:
I recently read a YA book where the protagonist is a strong female pirate with a whole crew of women onboard her ship:
I have read a book about a young princess who escapes an arranged marriage for political purposes and ends up leading armies into battle:
I have also read an incredible series (perhaps my favorite YA series) where a helpless mortal girl who lives in poverty goes on to become a hero amongst the supernatural beings she has always feared. After suffering from immense trauma, she rises from the ashes to become one of the strongest of her kind and paves the way for the life she wants:
In these past two years alone I have discovered many incredible YA authors and follow them on Instagram. These authors are very interactive with their fans and often share what inspired them to write such enchanting stories. Some of my personal favourite authors and series are:
Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Thorne and Roses trilogy
Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows series
Cassandra Clare – Infernal Devices trilogy
Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes series
I lost sleep over these books and experienced major book hangover (yes, this is a real thing) after finishing each one of the books in these series. Let’s not even discuss the emotional distress I had to deal with. It was worth it though, I promise! Just be ready to experience every emotion and find a friend for emotional support afterwards.
I cannot even begin to describe how big and diverse this fandom is and how many fun discussions I have had with passionate bookworms. In fact, I discovered many of the above authors thanks to the YA fandom. Hours can be spent discussing new releases, anticipated books, favorite characters and books on our to-be read list. I really do believe that discussing the story with this incredible community is the best part of reading YA books.