When did YA Fiction Get so Good?

Seriously? Did I miss a memo or something?

I finished the final books of the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth over the weekend. The ending of Mockingjay had mostly been revealed to me by others, but it was still intriguing to see how Collins lead both the characters and audience toward the conclusion. Allegiant‘s finale was surprising but not completely out of left field and, more importantly, fully satisfying. My enjoyment of these two series lead me to a simple quandary: when did Young Adult fiction get so damn good?

Both these series, and many others that fall under the wide umbrella of YA fiction, are just well written and compelling stories. They tell the narratives of characters and worlds that could, and really should, be read by anyone regardless of age. For the most part, these texts carry the label of YA simply because of the age and description of the primary characters and not the significance and value of the content. However, the story is the real star of these books. In reality, the protagonist could be any age, gender, or ethnicity and it would still work as an incredible tale worthy of interest.

Of course, there have always been great writing and writers, so I don’t know if merely I am now paying more attention to this particular genre or there actually has been a significant rise in quality. Either way, I look forward to seeing what comes from the YA section and these two authors.

As an aside, correlation does not equal causation but it is interesting to note that both the authors are women and have a female lead. Obviously, good storytelling happens regardless of gender and age, but I wonder why it seems that female authors seem to have a slight leg up when it comes to YA fiction that deals with sci fi and supernatural elements. Who knows? Maybe I am just mistaking windmills for giants. Thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “When did YA Fiction Get so Good?

  1. Some of the blame might be laid at the feet of Harry Potter and Twilight. Both series are arguably YA (although Twilight is more appropriately put in the dumpster section of any bookstore) and drew out a giant market base. Publishers would have noticed this rich market–adolescents and adults with comparable maturity–and devoted more time to 1) reading YA manuscripts and 2) marketing those good ones when they emerged.
    It’s probably comparable how Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, etc. (basically anything on AMC) have improved the prestige of television and consequently has attracted higher quality to the medium.
    Yes, no? Maybe?

    • I agree that those two series in particular demonstrated the commercial possibility of the market, particularly Harry Potter, but what I still don’t quite get is why the focus tends to be on post-apocalyptic/disaster narratives and why they seem to be centered on female protagonists. Not saying it is a bad thing, just wondering why this particular development happened. So, maybe, I guess.

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