BEDM: Blurred Lines of YA

This post actually came to me when me and Sophie were having a little bit of a rant about YA and in particular a very popular YA novel. It came to me just how blurred the lines of YA are. What’s acceptable in YA novels and what’s not and most importantly, what the ages of the protagonists are.

Now i know that YA stands for ‘young adult’ and that means that there is quite a large range of ages that are involved in young adult, however the lines of that are constantly being blurred i feel.

This came about because me and Sophie were discussing the protagonist of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Cath, and how young she seems compared to us. Given that we are now four whole years older than Cath, but she seems very young for an eighteen year old in the way she behaves and her values. This then got me thinking about the amount of characters that are represented in YA novels.

I read This Raging Light by Estelle Laure a little while ago, and the protagonist in that is sixteen. She’s clearly on the scale of YA and i can appreciate that she is, however she also seemed very young to me in the way she behaved. I’m unsure whether this is because of the writing or because of the character herself.

The older i get the more i struggle to understand the ways of young sixteen year old protagonists who think they know everything when it’s very clear that they don’t. I appreciate that they are young adults. However i cannot understand how some young adult novels have much more mature and serious characters than others. It seems to paint a lot of YA characters in a bad light as childish and irresponsible.

In such a fragile genre as YA, i would have thought that authors would want to represent teenage girls as strong, feisty and mostly mature. When in reality there are sixteen year old protagonists being clumped under the same umbrella as eighteen year olds who have two years of growing up added to them.

The way i see it is that as book genres are merged in to age groups, the seven to eleven, eleven to fourteen, fourteen to eighteen and so on, you’re not getting an accurate representation of the amount of growing up that people do in those time frames. By far a fourteen year old would not have the same mindset and opinions as an eighteen year old, so why would their stories be in the same genre? This leaves younger and older readers sometimes disheartened by the differences in character that they are reading about.

As a twenty two year old i really love reading young adult stories, it’s interesting to see characters at an age you loved or hated and learn about their experiences of it, however there definitely needs to be some kind of boundaries when it comes to ages. There’s a big difference between someone being an immature eighteen year old and someone who’s fifteen and just knows nothing about the world yet.

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