Are You a Teen Book Junkie?

Tracy Odell

Cover of The Hunger GamesLast week I devoured The Hunger Games. Not just the book -- the entire trilogy. Nom, nom, nom. It was delicious reading.

I read it because every other woman I know (or follow on Twitter) was peeing herself in anticipation of Mockingjay, the last book in The Hunger Games trilogy. The series, written by the talented Suzanne Collins, is a full blown pop culture phenomenon and I jumped on the bandwagon along with legions of other ADULT women.

Why do I emphasize ADULT? Is my Cap Lock key stuck? No. It's because like Twilight and Harry Potter, The Hunger Games belongs to the Young Adult (YA) literary genre.

All these books were written for teenagers, so why are women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond going ga-ga for “kid books”?

  1. Adolescent Protagonists. Remember being a teenager? Every emotion is on overdrive. You feel things deep in your core. Every setback is the end of the world. Every crush is true love. When a book can capture this kind of passion, it’s exhilarating to go along for the ride.
  2. Complicated and Creative Plots. The reason I devour these books and stay up way too late reading them is because they are page turners. And frankly the YA novels I’ve been reading are way more creative than most adult novels. In The Hunger Games, Collins comes up with at least 50 different ways to kill people -- a trident, tracking bees, poison berries, mutant dogs with human eyes, and on and on she goes.
  3. The Writing. Putting Twilight to the side because as much as I loved it, the writing is garbage, YA in no way means dumbed down writing.
  4. Future Classics. Your kids could be reading these books in school some day. If you look at the YA genre historically, books we now consider classics like Little Women and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer fall into this category.
  5. An Arbitrary Distinction. It's pretty subjective what gets classified as YA. The only defining characteristic of a YA novel seems to be an adolescent protagonist. And I'm sure some savvy publishers are sitting in a conference room right now saying: "Let's call this a YA book so 30-year-old women will buy it!"
  6. Because We Are Grown-Ups. One of the supposed perks of being an adult is that you can do whatever you want. So, if you like ‘em, read ‘em!

Have you read any good YA books lately?


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