Until recently I’d thought the definition of young adult was a pretty cut and dried topic, but it seems that’s no longer the case. While browsing through the Amazon charts I’ve seen books I’d call new adult in YA categories. I’ve also even seen books I’d label adult there. And there seem to be YA books in non-ya categories. What crazy world is this? Have the rules changed while I wasn’t looking or are authors / publishers ignoring them? I have no idea! But as a mother of an almost-teen, I find this a little concerning and think I need to get my head around it.
I’ve always thought it was a combination of the following;
- age of main character
- life stage (ie some kind of parental figures present)
- education stage (high school vs college)
- issues and themes of the story
- heat level (if there is sex, how much is shown)
A friend recently put this question to a group of readers and got really varied responses. So now I’m asking, how do you define YA? Is it the protagonist’s age, their life stage, the themes covered in the book, or even the heat level, or amount of swearing? Or maybe it’s something else entirely. Let’s talk about this!