I Declare War on Young Adult Fiction


Amelie Panaccione

Colleen Hoover dominates the NYT bestseller list, using superficial plots and soapy romance. From the New York Times.

Recently I was exploring the New York Times bestseller list. I was interested in finding some new books that would have a compelling plot and some literary merit. When I opened the list, I was surprised to see that most books on the NYT list were young adult books. These books are mainly in the YA romance troupe and lack any dimensionality that I would say to be a literary work of fiction. 

Young adult fiction is taking over the reading scene; I can’t take it anymore. Books should be about more than just some enemies-to-lovers romance, books are a pathway to discovering different viewpoints and new works like Caste or J.R.R Tolkien books, respectfully. YA lacks storytelling about something larger than superficial romance or faeries going on a predictable adventure. 

Young Adult fiction provides this escape from the world. I read it in middle school and found that fantasy books allowed me to “explore” different worlds. As I grew older, all the YA books just merged. The plot felt like it was always the same and many of the authors lacked the creativity to write a book that was unique to YA. There are some notable exceptions to the YA scene that I believe changed the scene: J.K Rowling, Sarah J. Maas, Victoria Aveyard, and Suzanne Collins. These authors wrote something entertaining but also created their own paths within YA. 

Colleen Hoover, a prominent YA romance author, has nine out of the fifteen books on the NYT combined print bestseller list. I should preface this by saying I have never read Colleen Hoover and don’t plan to; however, as someone with critical thinking skills and have read my fair share of YA I can say that they are the typical YA romance book. Hoover uses love triangles, a night in shining armor, and a fast-paced plot to make her books entertaining. Do they deserve to be dominating the bestseller list? Definitely not. 

A book should be intriguing and have parts where one cries, or laughs, but it should be deeper than a superficial breakup. I think that exploring different aspects of romance is important in some books, but there also has to be more: character development, binge-worthy writing style, and complexity. YA misses that character development and complexity as seen with Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, number three on the NYT bestseller list. 

YA sells but it doesn’t have to. There are so many other books that provide entertainment but also intricacies that are not YA. Below are a few of my favorite books from when I first started reading by myself to now. Some are YA fiction and some are non-fiction, but they all have literary merit and a larger meaning. 

Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner
Fiona and Jane, Jean Chen Ho
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
Room, Emma Donoghue