A very good post at Book Riot: Do Teens get Pushed out of YA When It’s Called a Genre?
Answer: Yes, they do.
I agree with almost everything in this post. That makes it hard to excerpt. But here:
YA, especially over the last decade, has been called a genre over and over. … YA, seen as a genre, is less about who it is intended for and more about the commonalities among books. YA books as a genre are fast-paced, intended for quick consumption, often come as a series, …and most importantly, feature a person who is “a young person” as a main character.
YA classified as a genre also means that books which have no business being called YA are called so. To Kill A Mockingbird is one such culprit …
… teen literature emphasizes the teen aspect of the books and that they’re intended for teen readers. YA, on the other hand, is a genre that reaches any reader itching for a specific reading experience.
YES TO ALL THE ABOVE. Bold in the above is mine.
Also this very important point:
Moreover, teens are fresher to books than adults. This means that those predictable twisty books that are panned for being “too obvious” and those books which feature “overdone” tropes aren’t seen that way for teens, who are discovering these storytelling devices with eager, excited, and non-jaded eyes. …
And thus more and more YA books are aimed at adults, not teens; because YA is treated as a genre for adults, not as a category for teens.
The problem is, in my opinion, not solvable at this point. I believe the best solution is not to try to reclaim YA for teen readers — which might be nice, but I think that is hopeless. Rather, I think it’s time to stop directing teens toward YA at the expense of “adult fiction.” I would like every single librarian, publisher, bookseller, teacher, and author to stop pretending — or worse, sincerely believing — that teens can’t identify with protagonists of different ages. I would like to just let YA become a genre that deals with young protagonists coming of age and completely quit worrying about the age of the readers, while directing teen readers toward whatever part of YA appeal to them AND ALSO the zillions of non-YA books out there that are just as likely to appeal to them, such as, I don’t know, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, to take one example almost at random.
At the moment, we have a ridiculous situation where, first, all kinds of books are considered YA when they definitely are not — not just To Kill A Mockingbird, but lots and lots of others.One that struck me recently is Thick as Thieves, which I just re-read. It’s considered YA because the “author writes YA,” even though the story itself does not meet ANY of the criteria expected for YA-treated-as-a-genre. Ditto with Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity.
And second, at exactly the same time that YA is pulled away from teen readers, we direct teens away from near-infinite numbers of “adult” novels that are not only approachable but really ideal for teen readers.
For the foreseeable future, I expect both trends to continue. I expect teens to continue to be directed toward YA as though that’s the only category suitable for teen readers, and I expect YA to continue moving away from the kinds of stories that appeal to teens toward the kinds that appeal to adults.
In the meantime … the whole Book Riot post is worth reading.