Nope, not “Ya”, as in how we South Africans say “Yes”, but Y.A – Young Adult. And not “Na”, for “No”, but its N.A for New Age – Two of the fastest growing fiction literature genres right now.
YA Fiction deals with more real themes like identity, acceptance, relationships, first love and diversity, compared to kids literature, and serves to help readers transition from kids books to adult literature. YA is typically targeted at readers aged 12 – 18, but recently there has been a big surge of adults reading YA fiction.
While YA fiction dates back to 1802, where Author Sarah Trimmer recognized distinct age reading groups, writers hadn’t written specifically for these classified groups. The must read titles that we grew up reading as part of school literature, like Great Expectations, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies and Jungle Book, while much delighted in, were written with adults in mind, even though read by us.
However, the publication of the first book falling within the true classification of YA, The Outsiders, was in 1967. It was the first time something had been published showing the true darker side of adolescence, while being purely written for adolescence. The author, S.E Hinton, even wrote it while she was in school and published it at the age of 17.
Soon after, authors and publishers started focusing on this emerging market of readers. With the surge of this genre, booksellers and libraries also started dedicating areas to YA. Topics which were previously seen as taboo, like murder, suicide, parental death and rape, were starting to be published to allow adolescence feel the reality in the novels. Seeing the real world state in books, allowed young adults to understand how books also correlate with life.
The great thing about YA is that the themes are evolving to reflect the current state. Of late, there has been an increase in books about diversity – focusing a lot more on gender equality, inclusion of different cultures, religions and races as well as differing sexual orientation. The inclusion of minority or disadvantaged communities in these novels have both raise awareness of the communities, as well as empower these communities as they read about the protagonist belonging to their community and achieving something.
By the late 1990’s only 3 000 YA novels had ever been produced, and by 2010, this genre had grown to 30 000.
And then came along NA
In 2009, the term “New Adult” was coined, to fill the gap between YA and Adult fiction. Some believed that YA didn’t cover the themes that related to older people. Think about it, a book written for an age range of 12-18 is quite large but also covers quite a young audience, and so themes like college life, starting work, new responsibilities were unrelatable. And so the birth of NA happened, which seemed more relatable to an older age group of 18 – 24.
While both YA and NA are targeted to young audiences and seem as though they “immature”, the themes and writing styles have proved the opposite. The growth of readership from YA and NA hasn’t only come from the target audience, but a large portion is also from older readers.
I’ve ordered a few titles for myself to have a good look into this genre. I haven’t started them yet, but will soon be posting reviews on them.
If you have read any YA or NA, drop a comment and feel free to leave a review of the books here 🙂
You can even head over to Book Depository for a more comprehensive list of books (as well as free delivery worldwide:))