What Counts as YA?

Young adult fiction (YA) is aimed at 12 to 18 year old readers, but what actually makes a book YA? Is it just the characters’ ages, or more about the content and themes? Are there any books that have been marketed as YA that you feel are really adult?

So I think it is time to explore this topic. I’ve been on a book hunt last weekend and whilst I mostly read in English, I went to a sale with almost only Dutch books. Some YA I will read in Dutch, when it’s written by a Dutch author for example. I do not like translated books, except when it’s translated from a language I don’t understand. They had a lot of books for cheap, since book prices here are taking a turn for the worst, but what books did I find?

Well, I’ve read a lot of excerpts, books like The Raven Boys in Dutch and City of Bones (also Dutch) were there, but I already own those in English. The Dutch books I’ve found were titles like: Geestenvanger, which was classified as a YA book, or De Zussenmeren. These books would have been books I loved to read, but now? They all felt too young for me. Is it the way it was written in Dutch? Was it the way the story was promoted? I have no clue. These books are all about younger characters and explore theme’s for younger people. Maybe twelve year olds? I have left these books behind.

So, what counts as YA? According to google, YA is typically written for readers aged 12 – 18 and includes most of the themes found in adult fiction, such as friendship, subtance abuse and sexuality. It could also be categorized as coming of age novels.

Well, I think there is a big difference between a 18 year old and a 12 year old. These ages are not very different in numbers, but they are very different in stages of life. A 12 year old would love a story about someone just starting highschool for example, but a 18 year old would want a more adult version of that. For me, YA is about those topics, about the younger audience and getting some life lessons out of the books without even knowing it.

Would I prefer NA books? (New Adult) over YA? Probably, since that are books written about characters within an age range of 18 to 29. This includes books from Sarah J Maas for example.

Do I get confused by the books categorization? Yes. A lot of YA books are actually childrens books and a lot of YA books are actually NA books. Publishers are trying their best to categorize books right, but it is a thin line between YA and NA. Some series even cross that line within their own books. Book 1 would be a childrens book, but as the characters develop and grow, it could cross the line to NA.

Did I buy a book this weekend? Ofcourse, I can’t go to a booksale and not buy a book! I bought a book translated from German to Dutch. It’s a fantasy about Thor and I do love my fantasy books!

What does YA mean to you? What books cross the line in your pov?


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