As a kid, I would always run to the Young Adult section when I would go to the library. I remember being utterly obsessed with book series like “Maximum Ride,” “Gossip Girl,” and “Twilight,” and would constantly read and reread these books whenever I had the chance. A lot of the books and series that I read back then are still some of my favorites to this day, and I will forever cherish the fond memories I have of trying to read all the books that my local library had to offer in the Young Adult section.

Unfortunately, not everyone looks back at Young Adult (YA) literature with such fondness. YA literature has gotten hit with its fair share of criticism, which is mainly due to critics claiming that some YA novels have predictable plotlines and don’t necessarily discuss serious issues in their novels. This is a valid point to make — I remember being aware back then of how cheesy some of my books were. There were also a few genres that tended to become oversaturated, such as the YA dystopian takeover after the release of “The Hunger Games” between 2012-2015. 

However, it should be noted that there are many books that feature unique plots and characters that set them apart from the other books in the same genre. A personal favorite of mine is “The Lunar Chronicles” by Marissa Meyer, which centers on various retellings of fairy tales such as “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” and “Little Red Riding Hood,” with a science fiction twist. I remember being so impressed with how the fairy tales were incorporated into the series and how connected everything was in the world of New Beijing, even though the idea of traditional fairy tales intermingled with science fiction could seem a little strange at first. 

Many of the novels that have been released as of late also serve as a reflection of just how much society has evolved, as more and more stories strive to feature nonwhite characters at its center, as well as LGBTQ+ relationships. For a while, it seemed that many of the stories that portrayed LGBTQ+ romances were dark, and almost always seemed to end in tragedy. However, through the release of contemporary queer romance media, LGBTQ+ romances are shown in a more positive and healthy light. One example is the critically acclaimed “Heartstopper” series which revolves around Charlie, the only openly gay student in his school, as he navigates friendship and his romance with Nick, a popular rugby player in Charlie’s class who ends up reflecting on his own sexuality. As a series, “Heartstopper” gives readers and audience members a new perspective on LGBTQ+ romance, and gives audiences a realistic look on exploring one’s sexuality and experiencing queer romance. 

As a whole, the YA genre — including the romance novels within that genre — has become more aware of certain tropes and plot points that can get tiring after seeing them repeatedly. This has resulted in more YA romance authors, and YA authors in general, who stray away from creating stories that are less fantastical and less repetitive. 

Despite the argument that YA books lean towards younger audiences, the age range shouldn’t be a defining factor that turns you away from the genre as a whole. Of course the books are going to be targeted towards younger readers, it’s in the name! One thing that makes the YA genre so important is the fact that there are books being written for readers that are actively going through periods of self-discovery and are able to find characters going through the same things they are and can relate to them. However, this doesn’t mean that older readers aren’t going to be able to relate to YA literature. There is still a sense of relatability when it comes to characters learning how to fit in, navigating friendships and love, and learning who they are as a person, which many people still go through as an adult. Even if you can’t relate to them, YA books are still entertaining and fun, and a great genre to turn to when you’re in the mood to read and possibly relive some middle or high school nostalgia. After all, nostalgia is all the rage now. 

In fact, quite a few YA franchises have seen a resurgence in recent years. “Twilight” has recently been revisited by fans due to the aesthetics of the first movie and Bella and Alice’s coveted fashions. On August 4, 2020, after years of development, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer released a new novel titled “Midnight Sun,” focusing on Edward Cullen’s perspective on the events of the first book to capitalize on that wave of nostalgia. More recently, “The Hunger Games” has experienced a cultural renaissance due to the reliability of Katniss Everdeen — readers have found themselves drawn to not only Katniss’ resourcefulness in the games, but also her personality. They admire her for how outspoken she is against the oppressive government of Panem, and how she consistently stays true to who she is as a person despite the Capital’s attempts to change her into what they view as the “ideal” person a Panem citizen should be. These are all reasons why she unknowingly became a symbol for rebellion in the universe of the series, and why real-world readers look up to her too. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” a prequel book released in 2020, had a film adaptation last year that only further fueled “The Hunger Games’” cultural resurgence. The same can be said for the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, which had its 6th novel “The Chalice of the Gods” released last year and a TV adaptation of the series releasing just this year. All of these Young Adult franchises releasing more media have brought forth a new wave of fans and readers who are able to experience these stories for the first time, or are like me and get to relive the experiences that they went through while reading the books when they were younger. 

Though easily overlooked, Young Adult literature is a genre that has a variety of good fiction and is both critically acclaimed and at the forefront of many cultural moments. I suggest that everyone should try out reading Young Adult literature regardless of age. There is a chance you’ll enjoy getting to reread the stories that made you happy when you were younger. You could also have the chance to experience stories that introduce new perspectives or themes you haven’t read about before. I hope I’ve encouraged you to explore this genre, because there are some wonderful books out there for you to read — if you allow yourself to discover them!