By DAYANG MARDHIYAH
Alright book nerds, some of you may or may not know what YA is. If you do not, it is short for Young Adult fiction – the kind that usually targets readers aged 14 and over. They are mostly stories that focus on growing pains and are sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels. Obviously the story would mostly center around high school kids dealing with friends, family problems or their love life (really, it’s all love when you get down to it). Back then it would have been shameful for adults to read books meant for teenagers, let alone confessing publicly that they do, but nowadays it is almost perfectly acceptable. For your information, YA definitely does not mean a solely young adult readership. According to Meg Rosoff, adults buy 55% of YA titles. See? I’m proud to be among that 55% count! The book team from Nielsen books also found that 80% of YA literature is read by people over 25.
YA teaches you about life and challenges by letting you encounter various protagonists and situations you have never experienced (that include being a teenager once more) and push us to understand about and contemplate what was read. Authors such as JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and John Green have become the usual favourites. (Yes, Harry Potter is categorized as YA as well, in case you didn’t know!) Among the YA books that are turned into movies because they were such big hits are Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Fault In Our Stars and many more. Talking about my preference, I prefer reading books that have romance in them, so I mostly read YA Romance because I love how the storyline between the protagonists are straight to the point and how the development in the books ensues (not too fast and not too slow). For example, I hate reading books where there is no progression on both of the characters but which mostly elaborate on their life or families here and there and ending up only in confessions at the end of the book (like, are you kidding me?!). A good example of this would be Sophie Kinsella books (sorry, Kinsella fans out there!). You can call me a romantic, as I prefer YA Romance over other books because I enjoy reading the romance parts in them and how the love develops between the characters. Among my favourite authors are Rachel Hawthorne, Sarah Mlynowski, Jenny Han and Miranda Kenneally.
Plus, I get to read the characters’ perspectives and see the development of each character in every chapter such as the guy’s feelings when he met his first love that he felt like he was somehow reborn or when a breakup had felt like a million knife stabs to the chest! Furthermore, to be able to read all those cliché romantic scenes where the protagonists meet for the first time (either good or bad) and then later having the story progress into something more (enemies to friends?) and seeing the main characters finally get together (yes, a kiss!) makes me feel like I’m on cloud nine. For instance, the typical cliché kind of story would be the popular guy and his not-so-popular girl best friend (think Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me) and the bad boy with the nerdy girl with glasses. Yes, I’m into these kinds of clichés, sue me! It is kind of like the feeling when I watch K-dramas with their cute whimsical cliché scenes with the piggyback rides and the slow-mo eye contact between characters (rolls eyes but loves them anyway). In my opinion, reading about the progression of the characters from the first chapter till you reach the climax of the book and finally the ending does something to me. I guess it’s true when they say you live several lives while reading because I feel like I’m in another world when I’m totally absorbed in the book. YA Romance not only focuses on typical high school romance but there are different genres that also include sports, chick-lit, contemporary, fantasy and dystopia. There are YA books that focus on seasons such as summer reads that usually center around teenagers enjoying their summer holiday by going on vacations or summer camp and how they found romance; whereas in winter time, the story would focus on the characters having a romantic snow fight, ice skating and trips to the mountains for skiing. It’s just so fun and enjoyable for me to read these books where I not only smile alone like a crazy person or cry or giggle like a child but I also get to learn and gain knowledge on specific topics such as depression, bullying, friendship, family problems, love and also about certain places and celebrations. I get to experience all of these just by having my nose buried in these books.
Georgina Howlett said, “YA books are great for evoking nostalgia as they can often remind older readers of their childhoods and teenage years, making them a comforting presence for those who just refuse to grow up and embrace their boring, often excitement-free adult lives. Society nowadays is so intricately and overwhelmingly critical of YA, and yet it is its simplicity that often provides the most pleasure for young people and adults alike.” I guess I can say that books such as these continue to help distract us all from the horrors of the real world, while also enabling us to confront it in a safe space, something adults like us clearly need as well as children. “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly,” so said Francis Bacon. And for me, those books are YA Romance books.