Do you know what some of the most commonly asked questions are? Genre questions. Either asking us what genre a certain book or series is in, or what exactly is that genre. After spending so much time immersed in the world of romance, it has become second nature to instantly catergorise books into their respective genre, or sub-genre. Just a glance at the blurb, or even just the cover then I can tell you what genre it will be. Of course, not everything is black and white and not every book is so easy to label, but a majority are.
We have previously done a very concise guide about genres giving an overview of each, but we decided to take each genre and do a more general and indepth guide. In this, we will tell you the definition of the genre, what types of characters you may expect to see, popular troupes within a genre, some of our favourite authors and series within this genre. And anything else we can think of! By the end of the guide you should be able to tell what book is what and have a few recommendations to pick up.
The sixth chapter in this guide is *drum roll please*
It’s debatable whether young adult is a genre in itself or whether it’s just a piece of metadata about a particular book. So, if you have a fantasy book where the main characters are young adults (generally aged between 12-18), is this a young adult fantasy, or a fantasy that has young adult characters? At Under the Covers, we land on the former. Young adult is a genre in itself with many subgenres underneath it, you can have young adult fantasy, young adult LGBT, young adult historical romance and so on. Why do we think this? For us, a young adult book, no matter what the sub genre, has themes, conventions and feel that is unique. These themes and convention are things you don’t generally find in books where the protagonists are adults. As that’s the case, we separate them in a genre of their own.
A young adult can be defined as a story where the main characters are between the ages of 12 – 18. Although there may be adult characters, the main protagonist and vehicle for moving the story forward will be the young adult characters.
Young adult is a behemoth. We are basically taking all books and when the main characters are below 18 and plonking them in the young adult genre. From there you could divide again into fantasy, romance, historical, suspense, sci fi…whatever fits best.
There are always exceptions to confuse us. Those series that don’t seem to fit into one genre or another, but instead have become a mash up to confuse us and disrupt our Goodreads shelves. Here are a couple of series that like to confuse the genre definitions and how I have shelved them:
Uniquely young adult…
Plenty of books deal with identity, but young adult deals with someone at a unique point in their lives. Teenage-hood; not really a child anymore, but not really an adult. They are coming of age. Learning who they are, who they could become, handling more mature relationships, the development of their sexuality, dealing with mental health…there are so many things battling out in a teenagers head. All whilst hormones are exploding all over their bodies.
Some of these issues are of course handled in adult fiction, but there’s something about that nexus in an individuals life that give young adult a particular flavour not really found elsewhere.
You don’t need to look hard in young adult to find rebellion. It’s everywhere. Whether our young characters are rising up against an oppressive regime or against their parents. They are pushing the boundaries set on them by the adult world as they themselves get closer and closer to joining it. They are finding their own identities in the face of overwhelming authority whether that authority takes the form of teachers or evil dictators.
Again, rebellion and fighting overwhelming odds isn’t the exclusive purview of young adult, but it is particularly prevalent. They are the ultimate underdog; no one expects a 13 year old to save the world.
Why UTC loves Young Adult
Young adult is such a dynamic genre. You can reach in and grab whatever you have a hankering for, whether it’s an epic story of adventure, a romance, a dystopian world or something more personal. It’s an exciting genre to explore and has so many iconic books it can be hard to know where to start!
UTC Required Reading List
What are your favourite young adult books?
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