Throughout the past couple weeks, I have been tweeting for the HarperCollins Canada’s YA account, @HCCFrenzy. As a result, I have read many articles about why YA literature is so great, such as a Dear Author post here, and Lesley Livingston’s National Post guest article here, in which she wrote why she loved writing for the YA audience. These articles made me realize I have been WAY behind on my YA reading and needed to catch up!
In high school, I was a vigorous reader, and naturally one of the subjects I pursued at university was English Literature. But for the four years of my undergrad, I hid the fact that I enjoyed anything except the classics to fit in with my Honours English Lit classmates. We seemed to only discuss the books we were learning about, or their intellectual equivalents: Wuthering Heights, Lolita, Heart of Darkness. People argued over what was the defining Shakespeare play, and others boasted that they actually did enjoy the epistolary novel Clarissa (a statement I am still hesitant to believe).
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not putting these books down. I loved them and I still do. I enjoy challenging myself to read books in Old English. Pride & Prejudice remains to be my favourite book, and I reread Les Mis. every Christmas. But you know what I also love? Why We Broke Up. Perks of Being a Wallflower. Looking for Alaska. I’m really enjoying Divergent – I missed my stop on the subway last night because I was so absorbed in it – and I’m really looking forward to its follow up, Insurgent. Heck, I’ll admit it. I even loved Twilight! And I have missed reading them, which is why I’ve been a YA kick lately, and could not be happier.
So to answer the question: Why do I love YA?
One of the reasons I love them is the adventure. YA novels have the strange and wonderful ability to suppress your logic and allow you to believe that the world has a dystopian future or that magical or mythological creatures exist: but how? Dystopian novels take relevant trends, actions or emotions and exaggerate them to create chaos and conflict. Take Breathe by Sarah Crossan as an example. In it, the earth is barren and oxygen is at an all-time low. Communities exist under oxygen-regulated domes. This premise is undoubtedly linked to the issues our generation is facing regarding air pollution and environmental concerns.
Though YA novels often discuss issues of chaos or heartbreak, there is still heroism, hope and laughter. Writers like Lesley Livingston and Abigail Gibbs create kick-ass characters, such as Mason in Starling and Violet in The Dark Heroine, who prioritize their family, friends and the well-being of their community. They are independent and they fight for what they believe in. Although independent, these protagonists often have a group of hilarious and supportive friends. I have never read a YA book that didn’t have a friend-character who emulated one of my closest friends. It’s comforting and familiar, and another reason I enjoy these books so much.
I love reading the books and picturing actors in the characters’ roles, imagining who would play whom in the movie adaptation.
Most importantly, I LOVE the online community that exists and supports YA literature. The interaction between authors, publishers and fans online – especially on Twitter – is amazing, and I have been lucky to be a part of it this past month.
So there. That’s why I love YA. And that’s why every Tuesday we will dedicate a SavvyReader blog post to YA Reads. Now excuse me while I return to Divergent (I’m chapters away from starting Insurgent!) After that, I’m not sure.