Good evening everyone. So to begin right away I feel like I should give a bit of background to explain why I chose to write this post. By the way before I do get started, I do still read certain YA books. I’m not throwing shade or criticising the genre, this is just a discussion of changing reading tastes.
I have always been a huge reader. I have always tended to read more sci fi and fantasy (SFF) but do also read a lot of comics, horror, literary fiction and non fiction. I even once read a slew of books on the Tudors (another day). However when I got my first paying job in college I started to obviously buy more books. The ratio of these tended to be 70:30 YA to adult.
I like everyone else, read all the vampire titles that flooded the market post Twilight. I then dipped my toes into the dystopian books that were post Hunger Games (and hated most of it after reading Ray Bradbury’s ‘Faranheit 451’). I did my time, we all did.
I had continued reading at this ratio and I didn’t notice any changes until last year, so about February 2018. I did two things, I bought a copy of ‘The Belles’ by Dhonelle Clayton and I started reading the first book in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, ‘Shadow and Bone’.
Since I finished Shadow and Bone I’ll talk about that one first. One of the first things that I really didn’t love about this book is the emphasis on the romance and the characterisation. The book spends a good amount of time dissecting Alina’s feelings towards Mal. I have found that more recent YA fantasies do have more emphasis on romance which isn’t one of my favourite plot devices. But I had read YA with a strong romance before, why now had this changed?
I also mentioned the characters were another issue I discovered. Now I haven’t actually continued the series so I don’t know if this changes but I found Alina’s character to be very weak as well as Mal. Both are very one dimensional, especially Alina with an emphasis on her low self esteem. Characters like that are always good to see especially in the YA bracket but I felt the way it was portrayed through Alina came aross as whiny and selfish.
I have very few criticisms with The Belles just that the writing and characters again were not really for me. I have tried 3 times to read this book and each time I can’t get past the first few chapters. The difference I noted in the writing style is very hard to put into words but I knew right away this was definitely a YA book. This is when I definitely knew that my tastes had changed.
Another thing I saw my opinion changing about was YA series and how they played out. One such series I loved was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I legitmately inhale read the first book and was fully obsessed with the series to the point I bought the next book the following day. The second book in the series as pictured above was much slower than the first and in my opinion didn’t deliver on the suspense of the first. Granted, it was now revealed who was the antagonist, the twist revealed etc but I still think that the series continued to lag after that.
I found this to be something I noticed in other YA series as well. Now I see it in adult series too, second book syndrome is alive and well (talking about you Red Rising) but there is a distinct thread through many of the YA SFF series I have read having an issue maintaining momentum over a series. I’m currently making my way through Tamora Pierce’s works of Tortall and the publication timeline of these runs from the 1980’s to now. The most recent book being published in 2018. These books were YA before the term was even coined and used but I find that the content of these books, as well as books such as Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, have a better pace and a writing pace that is more to my tastes.
That is to say, I have not stopped reading YA, or buying it. A good chunk of the books on my TBR are YA. Some examples include Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman among so many more. I think it’s honestly the best thing I have learned about my reading tastes in years and its refreshing to know I can recognise this and grow as a reader.
I am now reading a ration of what is approximately 85:15, adult to YA. There was no book that drastically changed my opinion. I haven’t read all the hyped books such as A Court of Thorns and Roses or Simon vs the Homo-sapiens agenda either. This happened as a subtle change over a year or so. I honestly see nothing wrong with it since I think our reading tastes change over time naturally and to see this happen organically makes me think I could change my mind again and go back to reading mostly YA.
Do you think your reading tastes have changed over the years? If so what made you realise it had changed? I’d love to discuss this with you guys, thank you for reading.