Okay, it’s rant time.
I am 22 years old. I’m in an awkward “learning to be an adult” phase. I am trying to figure out who my true friends are, the man I want to be with (check. but for solidarity with my age group I’ll leave it in) and who I want to be. I am also learning how to keep my bank account from sinking, choosing to say no to that last drink, how to start a retirement account, and how to gain respect from more experienced superiors in my workplace. Some of these pertain to the struggles of being a teenager, but many of them are qualities of a true young adult. So I ask myself, why is the YA market targeted at 13-21 year olds? Why aren’t they the teenage market? And where are the books for the actual young adults I can identify with?
No longer full of the teenage angst that would allow me to identify with a 17-year old protagonist, I have, for the most part, grown out of YA novels. I love the vivid worlds they create and stories they tell, but why must they always center around teenagers? I want to make it clear that I still read these novels. I have nothing against them and many of these authors are absolutely fantastic. I want to BE John Green. But I am acutely aware while I read that I’m following the story from a teenager’s point of view. I often feel more like sitting the main character down and giving them a stern talking-to than feeling like I could be them.
In our society, teenagers are trying to grow up much faster than they should have to, and their newly found “Young Adult” title attests to that. Everyone is a teenager at some point, and it’s an essential developmental period of our lives. I’m glad that they have all of these fantastic books to choose and learn from, especially as reading is growing less and less popular. But the truth is, they’re not adults. They haven’t learned to communicate like an adult and many of their problems revolve around this lack of maturity. So why aren’t there popular titles with slightly older protagonists? For some reason, there seems to be a literary black hole around novels for actual Young Adults. If there are fantastic new dystopian, fantasy, and contemporary novels that are about 20-somethings, I can’t find them. Why have the teenagers stolen our title? My age group has fallen off the face of the earth, and it makes me feel like this:
My point is, there are true young adults out there. I promise. I am one of them. I have lots of friends who love to read. So I call all authors to action: start writing about a twenty-something Tris, or Katniss, or Percy. I want to be able identify with the characters I’m reading about again. Someone who is entering the world of adulthood that no one prepares you for and just trying to figure it out. While staging a coup to take over the corrupt government and having magical powers. Who wouldn’t read that?
Are there great 20-something books out there? What are they and where can I find them?
I’ll write again soon. Until then, keep reading.