Why YA is Just so Darn
Better Than Everything Else
By Colleen Houck
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But there are so many good adult and kid books out there,” and if you know me really well, you’re thinking, “But you often list adult books as your favorites.” Both of these thoughts are true. I love books of all kinds. Books about aliens. Books about dystopian societies. Books with animals as characters. Books with paranormal creatures. Books with romance. So, you see, I am somewhat of a book fanatic, but I think YA books are special. Even specialer than all the other good books out there and I’ll tell you why.
#1-YA BOOKS HAVE NO BOUNDARIES
YA books have no boundaries. Well, of course they have boundaries as far as keeping it kid friendly, but there aren’t any limits to the ideas an author might have. YA is the one category that doesn’t box an author in. If I want to write science fiction, I can write it. If I want to write about knights in shining armor, I can write it. If I want to write about angels and demons, that’s good too. Which brings me to another point.
#2-YA FANS ARE OPEN-MINDED
The fans of YA will typically follow an author on whatever journey they want to take. Teens and fans of YA are the types of readers that have open minds and soft hearts. If I want to mix world mythologies, they are fine with that. If I want my horses to talk? Why not? If I want to write about a dystopian world where cupcakes rule? Even better.
This rare quality doesn’t appear to cross over to other genres. Hard core romance fans will rarely follow an author into fantasy or science fiction. Sci-Fi fanatics probably aren’t willing to venture over into mystery. This is one reason I think YA is special.
#3-IT TAKES A SPECIAL KIND OF
AUTHOR TO WRITE FOR TEENS
Then there’s the fact that I’ve actually worked in schools. In fact, several YA authors I’ve met have either been teachers at one time or were studying to become one in college when they began writing. I have always believed that it takes a special kind of person to work with kids of any age but especially those in middle and high school. Those formative years have lasting impact on character and I remember several of my teachers fondly.
My love of reading and passion for writing was nurtured and encouraged by a few exceptional souls and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. The YA authors I’ve met and collaborated with are just as extraordinary. They have a singular understanding of what it means to be a young adult. The problems they identify and the situations they describe go above and beyond finding love, solving a mystery, or running from aliens.
This leads me to the fourth reason why YA books are better than everything else. So just to recap, the first reason was the very large canvas we YA writers have on which to stretch the limits of our imaginations. Second, our fans are just freaking awesome. Third, YA writers are interesting, empathetic, and have a unique perspective on young people, and now the fourth reason.
#4-YA CHARACTERS ARE UNIQUE
YA characters haven’t even settled into who they are going to be as adults. The whole world is open to them and anything could happen. Yes, they could be destined to solve world hunger, or lead an army against a terrible enemy, or have to overcome a debilitating disease, but at the core of the story, and the thing all YA books have in common, is that our heroes and heroines are seeking their identity—that spark of uniqueness that will set them apart from everyone else. And sometimes not even the author knows how the circumstances of the story will impact that character and influence who they will become.
This feature is what makes YA books utterly different from everything else. Don’t get me wrong. I love books of all types—characters of all types—but there is a spark found in YA books that makes me love them above all else. They fill my shelves. They inspire my dreams. And they stay in my heart long after I’ve closed the last page.
Colleen Houck is October's Affiliate Blogger. To find out more about our guest author positions here at the League, click here.
Colleen Houck’s New York Times bestselling Tiger’s Curse series has received national praise with the fourth book, Tiger’s Destiny, debuting September 2012. Colleen is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, science fiction, and romance. Formerly a student at the University of Arizona, she has worked as a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter for seventeen years. Colleen lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.
by Colleen Houck
Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.