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Anyone who so much as peeks at my Goodreads shelf can see that I love YA. Out of the fourteen books I’ve read thus far this year, eight of them were YA novels, and out of the twenty-one I read last year, fourteen were YA. I also love writing YA, and the first thing I do upon walking into Barnes & Noble is beeline it over to the Teen section, so I think it goes without saying that I’m a YA junkie. (It’s not a problem. I can stop whenever I want to—I just don’t want to).
So when I say that YA isn’t a genre, I’m not trying to insult anyone, or somehow degrade the wonderful world that is YAtopia. I’m actually talking technicalities.
YA, like MG, Adult, and I suspect NA as well (although that’s another post all on its own), are all categories. They describe a target audience and expectations of general themes threaded throughout the books. For YA, that means a protagonist between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, and a sort of coming-of-age theme, to start. That’s a super simplified version, and there’s more to YA, but for the sake of not drowning you in information, let’s leave it at that.
Within each of those categories, there are then genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary, Horror, Historic, Thriller, Mystery, etc. And within those genres, there are sub-genres: dystopia, epic fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, contemporary romance, regency, post-apocalyptic, psychological thriller, the list goes on.
All of the books within those genres share close similarities; all paranormal romance involve some sort of creature or supernaturally-enabled love interest; dystopias involve some sort of future society, usually with an extremely controlling (and often evil) governmental system; epic fantasy involves swords and horses, and occasionally magic and otherwise magical creatures.
But within the category of YA, the books are markedly different. The Fault in Our Stars is nothing like The Hunger Games, and Graceling is nowhere near similar to City of Bones. What brings them together is the general age group of the protagonists and the coming-of-age theme woven throughout their respective stories. But they’re certainly not the same genre.
So those are my thoughts on the categorization of the wonderful realm that is YA, but now I want to hear from you: do you consider MG, YA or Adult a genre? Why or why not?
Is YA a category or a genre? One writer shares her thoughts on the matter. (Click to tweet)
Are MG, YA and Adult genres? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)