Why Adults Should Read YA — and Where to Start
We all know that much of the audience of young adult books are young adults themselves. But there’s absolutely no reason
why people who are no longer teenagers can’t still read YA and get something
really valuable from the genre.
As traumatic as high school and adolescence was for many people, there’s also something singularly magical about this period of time in life, especially as enjoyed in book form (and not real life), from the comfort of your favorite reading corner.
For me, YA novels are about potential—they’re about characters and people not yet fully formed and yet positively sparking with passion and dreams, characters who are deeply flawed perhaps but also capable of incredible and transformative change, who have so much more to go in life and so much room to grow.
Reading YA reminds me that change and growth is not something that’s only possible when you’re a teenager, but rather something we are all capable of at every stage of life. YA novels capture an energy and resilience that we can carry with us every day. We’ve all seen our favorite YA heroes face down incredible odds and obstacles, all in the name of pursuing their dreams, protecting their loved ones, or upholding their principles.
When I start to feel like it’s me against the world, I try to channel my inner Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) and Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass), both of whom had to literally fight for their lives in a competition with other trained killers. When I’m threading through insane foot traffic to get to the office, I visualize Inej (Six of Crows) scaling skyscrapers and tiptoeing across tightropes to get to where she needed to go. On days when I want to crawl underneath my blankets and never leave my house again, I think about Madeline Whittier (Everything, Everything) who’d give anything, risk everything (haha, wink, wink), to be able to leave her house without endangering her life.
Here are three YA novels that I read as an adult that changed my life.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
This book sings in its simplicity, and, at the same time, it features some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. Maggie reignited my sense of wonder and magic with this book which is, essentially, about five teenagers on a quest to find magic. This is all I ever wanted to do as a teenager. It's still all I ever want to do, if I’m being honest.
The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
This series has it all—rich, beautiful world building; incredible and completely unforgettable protagonists; a romance to break your heart; and political intrigue and plot twists you’ll never see coming. Kestrel is the strong female protagonist I have been looking for my entire life. She outsmarts her enemies when they are more powerful than her. She falls deeply and unreservedly in love without ever sacrificing her morals or principles for a boy. And she never apologizes for who she is, even when it might put her life in danger.
Cinder (well the entire Lunar Chronicles, honestly) by Marissa Meyer
Talk about a sweeping, thrilling fantasy series of EPIC proportions. The Lunar Chronicles stole me away and still hasn’t left me or let my heart go. It will never cease to amaze me how brilliantly Marissa Meyer balances so many kickass characters and how elegantly she weaves four (that’s right, FOUR) different fairy tales together with elements from both science-fiction and fantasy. But as deeply romantic and swoon-worthy this series is, what I really took away from the Lunar Chronicles were the friendships. The loyalty and teamwork between this rag-tag band of protagonists is what holds the whole series together for me.
What about you, Swoon Readers? What are some YA novels that you've read as an adult that changed your life?