Why Not YA?

The other day, my husband asked me what I was reading. I was about halfway through James Dashner’s “The Maze Runner.” He pointed out — quite innocently — that a lot of adults today are reading books aimed at teens. At first, his comment rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t read YA lit to be trendy. I read it because I’ve found a lot of great series shelved in the YA section of the library and book store. I still read books for adults, too, but today’s teen lit is way better overall than the books published when I was still in that age category.

Here’s why I love YA:

1. The books tend to be fast reads. I wish I had hours to read like I did when I was younger. Now, I get a chapter here and there. Most YA books keep the action flowing, the characters lively and don’t require you to keep looking back to the first chapter to remember who a character was.

2. The books tend to be “cleaner” than their adult counterparts. Now, that statement isn’t true across the board. It’s not hard to find raunchy teen lit. And even my favorite series still have profanity or sexuality. But overall, the language is not as pervasive, the violence not as disturbing, and the sex scenes not as graphic.

3. As a mom of two teenage boys, I’ve often shared what I’m reading with them. If they happen to like the same books — it’s happened! — it creates this nice area for discussion. My youngest is a huge “Hunger Games” fan, too, though he’s Team Gale, while I’m Team Peeta.

If you haven’t tried reading any YA lit, but don’t want to embarrass yourself walking around the teen section of the library looking for a book (trust me, I’ve done this and it is embarrassing), here are a few selections I’ve read and liked.

“The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins. Probably one of my favorite series of all times. I picked up THG when it first game out and was devastated when I realized it was only Book One and I had to wait A WHOLE YEAR for the next book. My advice is to wait until all the books are out before beginning a series.

“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey. I broke my rule mentioned above when I started this first book in a trilogy about the aftermath of an alien invasion. Book Two, “The Infinite Sea,” is just as good, if not better. I’m really not sure I can wait another year for Book Three (sigh). There is some profanity and some talk of sex, but the story is compelling and Cassie, the protagonist, kicks butt.  I also like that the issues that come up during the course of the story are pretty provocative.

“Unwind,” “Unwholly,” “Unsouled,” and “Undivided” by Neal Shusterman. I’m not sure how anyone can read this series and not be pro-life, but I’ve heard many people say it is pro-abortion. I just don’t see it. I like that Shusterman leaves room for debate on a very complex subject. “Undivided” was just released last month. I haven’t read it yet but based on reviews I’ve read, it should be a great finish to the series. The first three books are excellent.

“Divergent,” “Insurgent” and “Allegiant.” by Veronica Roth. The first book starts out with a bang, the second book is okay, but the third book was just…I hate to say it was bad so let’s just say I was really disappointed. Not so much with what happened at the end — the ending created quite a backlash among fans — but at the quality of the book as a whole. I’m not sure I can recommend starting this series, given the way it ends, but with the movie out this past spring, it may be something you’d want to read.

I’m always on the lookout for a new book. Feel free to post any recommendations!