Young Adult Literature

Young Adult Literature: Trending or Everlasting?

In previous posts, I have sorted through possible definitions of Young Adult literature and how we may attempt to sort books into this category. Young Adult literature seems to be based on a character finding his or her way in the world – as they have a general grasp on who they are & how they define themselves as individuals, but are often faced with a controversy that allows them to see themselves in a new light or learn something new about themselves. This week, I read The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, and this book definitely fits into the category of Y.A. based on the above definition because we see the main character, Jennifer Strange, faced with protecting and defending her morality to the modern day magical world depicted in the novel. Although Jennifer faces a trial of integrity in which she learns deeper lessons about herself, I think the humor and tone of this story would be better fit for Middle Grades Literature. Middle grades may not necessarily fit into the mindset of Jennifer as she is nearly 16 years old & has a job/responsibilities, which they may not understand, but the gradual plot & humor between Jennifer & her pet, Gwauk, would allow itself well to middle grades readers. 

The Last Dragonslayer also resembles the Harry Potter series in terms of detailing aspects of the magical world, although Fforde’s world contains very different rules about magic than Rowling’s world. As a fiercely loyal fan of the Harry Potter series, it is hard for my heart to buy into any other magical world, but I think Fforde does a wonderful job of world development. I do think the magical world stories are a current craze, but not necessarily a “trend” because fairytale-style stories have always been beloved by readers for centuries. The Last Dragonslayer may be a book I pass down to my children or students one day, but I am not entirely convinced that it will be as cherished as the Harry Potter series will be, but that is also a matter of scale. The “magical” Y.A. style may not always be as popular as it is at present, but I think the Bildungsroman, “coming of age,” novel that the Young Adult novel represents will persist. 

Young Adult literature is a unique category because of its appeal to all age groups. As I am moving more into the “Adult” category rather than “Young Adult,” I find myself still appreciating and enjoying the stories told from a perspective of a young Adult because I think it is a time in all of our lives that we can each easily take ourselves back to and have empathy for the characters as they grow and learn. 

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4 thoughts on “Young Adult Literature: Trending or Everlasting?

  1. Jamie,
    I totally relate to your thoughts on buying into another world when you’ve already fallen in love with another similar. I had the same issue while reading the Inheritance cycle. Eragon reminded me far too much of The Lord of the Rings to really become invested. And although I believe that everyone draws inspiration from others, there needs to be enough distinction to make them their own entity. The book I read this week, Wolf by Wolf, had elements of the hunger games, but was different enough to where I didn’t notice it until reflecting upon the novel. Now, Hunger Games v. Battle Roayle is a different story!

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  2. Jamie and John,
    I could not agree more, while fantasy and sci/fi provides the medium for many different themes (romance, adventure), it can become repetitive. I have seen Battle Royale (better than Hunger Games), did not read LOTR and did read Inheritance (which grew stale). With this genre, apart from a few exceptions, the original stories are hard to improve upon and are soon a controlling influence. What’s more, it is sci/fi and fantasy that has the most iterations of fan contributions and remakes (Star Wars fan fiction, Marvel super hero movies, Mad Max).

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  3. Jamie,
    I agree with so many points in this post! I also read The Last Dragonslayer (forgive me, I don’t know how to italicize in a comment) and I did find it disappointing, but so much of my wonders if I just carry a Harry Potter heart wishing me and no other magic will do! I agree that YA is truly ageless, I can see myself enjoying books like the Harry Potter series until the day I die and many older adults are a testament to this theory. I also enjoyed your point about how these books seem as though they will truly last. I think there will without a doubt be readers looking to escape to a magical world for years to come. Such a simple concept seems as though it may wear with age, but every time I reread the Harry Potter series I see it in a new way. Thanks for your post! I enjoyed reading your thoughts!

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  4. I love that you are loyal to Harry Potter! I am too! I went to the theme park with my family and scared myself because I knew every little reference to details in the books, I am VERY devoted. I also enjoy the coming of age aspect of Harry Potter and other fantasy series as I think the books can grow with the readers.I also agree with Ryan and John that it can get repetitive especially in long series, I know I definitley got bored during one of the later Harry Potter books. I just like the fact that an author can create a world and make their own rules and boundaries and dictate their characters to behave in a way that is consistent with a world entirely different from real life. This escape can be extremely important to young readers, myself included.

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