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Old 09-18-2011, 09:03 PM   #1
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Can someone explain the YA label to me

Unless I was just totally oblivious growing up (which is very likely lol) I really don't remember there being many YA or "teen" books. There was maybe Dragonlance for the boys and Judy Blume for the gals and that was about it, then you went into adult fiction.

What confuses me most about it is I've seen YA horror and science fiction that looks just as dark as "adult" genre fiction, so what makes these YA books? Is it a lack of graphic violence and sex or something? Less complex language? I'm sure I've passed over a lot of good books because the designation scared me away.
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:30 PM   #2
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I remember lots of young adult books growing up.

I would imagine that the reason you see a lot of vampires and such in the YA category is because the characters are in that age group.
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:37 PM   #3
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I'd agree that the common denominator seems to be the characters' ages. A lot of current urban fantasy authors are jumping on the YA bandwagon, IMO.

I haven't read many, mostly because I'm rather burned out on the typical vampire/UF stuff they seem to predominate in.

But I've read comments that make me think you're going to find various levels of sexuality and various levels of violence - that it's not "safe" to assume they'll be milder, just because it's labeled YA.

If you like to follow any of the review blogs, I seem to remember that DearAuthor.com covers a fair amount of the YA books. I've got some YA post-apocalyptic books by Susan Pfeffer on my TBR pile because of reviews I read there.
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:42 PM   #4
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It's a made up label. I've never understood it myself. I think the term was invented so that Old Adults (OA) who enjoy reading it don't have to be quite so embarrassed as they would be, were it called Juvenile or Adolescent instead.

I found Madeleine L'Engle in the Juvenile section of my public library back when I was 12. Was I a young adult at 12? I don't think so. Do libraries have Young Adult sections today? I honestly don't know.

The only way to truly know if something is YA is if it's marketed as YA. The label is the label's only quantifiable criteria.
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:54 PM   #5
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Wasn't this sort of thing pretty much started by the Stratemeyer (sp?) Syndicate books? Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Tom Swift/etc (which started around 1900, I think).

It was the first deliberate attempt to aim books at people younger than adults (rather than books to read to children).

And it was invented because the term "Young Adult" used to be the term used for "teenager" (which didn't come into widespread use until 1930 or so).
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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Yeah, pretty much no sex, there can be some violence but isn't too graphic. Adult themes, but cleaned up some to be suitable for teens.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:45 PM   #7
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First YA I remember reading was A Wizard of Earthsea. Maybe the onlyone. I think I skiped straight from Richie Rich to Interview With the Vampire.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:04 PM   #8
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I don't remember a YA category either. I went from reading Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators in grade school to reading my brother's collections of Ian Flemming and Louis L'Amour. I didn't think anything of it. I wanted to read and that was what was available. By the time I was a "young adult" and able to get to a bookstore or library on my own, I went to the general stacks.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:11 AM   #9
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Cool i read 'em

i read 'em right now:

rick brandt
hardy boys
nancy drew
harry potter
twilight
alosha trilogy
robert a. heinlein's juveniles
and others
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellmark View Post
Yeah, pretty much no sex, there can be some violence but isn't too graphic. Adult themes, but cleaned up some to be suitable for teens.
I wouldn't rely on the YA designation to ensure any of these elements. I agree with the posters who said YA means the protagonists are young people/teens. Other than that, it's hard to generalize.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alansplace View Post
i read 'em right now:

rick brandt
hardy boys
nancy drew
harry potter
twilight
alosha trilogy
robert a. heinlein's juveniles
and others
I don't know all of those authors, but the ones I do know would be "juvenile," not YA.

YA is more adult because the violence may be more disturbing, and relationships may be a significant theme. Romeo and Juliet would be YA, I think.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:21 AM   #12
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Cool hmmmm....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew H. View Post
I don't know all of those authors, but the ones I do know would be "juvenile," not YA.

YA is more adult because the violence may be more disturbing, and relationships may be a significant theme. Romeo and Juliet would be YA, I think.
you're probably correct, i never really thought about the differences before.

and so it goes...
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:33 AM   #13
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Stuff gets dumped into YA for having straightforward plots involving young protagonists, among other things. Often it doesn't matter if the author writes like Cormac McCarthy, the plot type can get it shoved into YA. And I've read (am reading) some "YA" that is very, very graphically violent. Like, infant being drowned in sewage then having its face torn off and worn as a mask kinda violent.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
The only way to truly know if something is YA is if it's marketed as YA. The label is the label's only quantifiable criteria.
I agree with this, and also with the notion that the common denominator is simply the ages of the protagonists.

Harry Potter, for instance, is (or at least was) classified as "children's" books (I suppose it is now reclassified as YA), even though the content of the later books in the series wasn't particularly childish. Sure, it doesn't have a lot of blood, virtually no gore, and certainly no overt sexual references.

But then again, I don't remember much of that in The Lord of the Rings, either, and yet that is generally not considered a YA series. It seems as if Harry Potter is considered Young Adult simply because the main characters are all young adults.

I would assume that is true for most YA books.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:03 AM   #15
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Around ten years ago, publishers realised that there is massive amounts of coin to be made selling books aimed at this demographic. At the same time, it's very easy to make a check-list of things you're looking for in an author that will hopefully guarantee a return on your investment. In this vein, we've had a phase where every YA book was about wizards and the supernatural; then we moved on to vampires... .

It's most profitable if the author has an idea that can easily be turned into a (ideally interminable) series. If you want to guarantee big bucks, make the book a certain length, have easy-to-spot themes and cover National Curriculum objectives, and you've got a captive audience in schools. Sets of these books will need replacing every couple of years, too.

YA fiction suffers less from piracy, and parents will buy anything that has a nice cover in the hopes of getting their kids to read something.

On a more positive note, during this period there have also been some fantastic authors emerge which have not followed the cookie-cutter model and have offered young adults more stimulating content than before: Philip Pullman, Philip Reeve, Meg Rosoff, Marcus Sedgwick, et al.
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