Lately, YA has become extremely popular. “Twilight” is no longer the only mainstream plot of choice. In fact, the casting of “The Hunger Games” film is debated in the pages of “Entertainment Weekly,” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is premiering at the Toronto Film Festival with the “Between Two Ferns”* interviewer of the century. Soon, YA will reach the point where its popularity will be its downfall. This must be avoided!
I didn’t always feel this way. On the contrary, I wanted more people to know about YA and its singular qualities of fantastic thorough plots, dynamic characters, and unrelenting honestly. I needed more people to read this genre and realize that it was not solely intended for current teens but for anyone who was once an awkward, unsure, yet undeniably hopeful young adult. I wished for the day when people would know who Han Nolan and Kevin Brooks were without having to endure blank stares.
However, now that people know about YA, I am unquestionably irate.
Suddenly, adults are reading YA because it is “lighter literature.” Numerous film and television companies are flocking (or already have) to buy the rights to potential YA treasure troves. Additionally, many adult fiction authors are writing and publishing for their readers’ offspring. If this continues, the genre will be dictated by these external forces and not by the natural forces from within. Upcoming releases will continue to mirror what is selling in droves and there will be little room for literature that is pure young adult. Readers will “love” the genre for misguided reasons and in the process transform it into the genre of unoriginality.
I know this sounds somewhat extreme, but whenever I read an article about YA they always seem to praise it for its brevity or simple plots. Has no one read “Going Bovine?” This gargantuan novel by Libba Bray is packed with layers of comedy, death, existentialism, and punk angels. This is the true face of YA. Only with time does it reveal itself – time that popularity does not allow.
I like the concept of popularity (in moderation) as much as the next person. However, I think Oscar Wilde had it right when he wrote, “Everything popular is wrong.” YA must not be popular because this status only leads to trouble. This is the case with literature (vampires), celebrities (insert any example), food (deep frying Snickers), and trends (silly bandz). Popularity only skims the surface of these entities and never bothers to dig further. You solely trust what you see and accept it without question because it is “popular.” If YA becomes too popular, many won’t bother to read further than what is on the NYT bestseller list.
If anything, I desire YA to continue in its “cult status.” I enjoy the feeling of discovering something amazing and having the ability to introduce it to people in an organic non-market-driven fashion. I don’t want the genre to lose its innate passion and intensity. I don’t want YA to become wrong. I don’t want YA to be popular.
Post Scriptum: If you have any opinions about “popularity” and its pros and cons (in terms of YA) leave a comment. I would love to read what you think.
*Please be aware that “Between Two Ferns” contains some mature and hilarious content.