In the last six months, I passed a few important milestones in my life that include turning 18 years old, graduating from high school, moving away from home, and starting college. In that time, I’ve gotten an interesting perspective on all the YA books I read.
It’s so weird reading a book where the main character is no longer someone you can directly relate to, in that moment. Fantasy and dystopian is different because I think age is less influential in those genres, but age plays an important role in contemporary novels. Reading about a freshman’s first day at school just feels so… immature? even though a few months ago I would have been “I feel you”.
I’m also a little more interested in NA now. Don’t get me wrong, YA is awesome and I still love to read it, but there’s something special about reading about characters that are going through what you’re going through at the same time. Some of my favorite books to read my last two years in high school were about high school upperclassmen because it was so easy to relate and empathize. Not that I can’t connect with other characters, it’s just not the same when a character evokes memories from a while ago, versus when a character reminds you of something that is happening now or in the last year.
I already know one does not simply age out of YA. Just look at everyone in the YA blogging community. There are so many people over the age of eighteen. YA is magical.
But still, I wonder, how important is the age of the main character and what role does it play in the novel?
I feel like besides growing of age, age doesn’t really usually play a big factor in fantasy or dystopian novels. Those novels are less about the experiences characters go through at certain ages and more about the plot and surviving (or something along those lines). Contemporary novels, on the other hand, I feel, rely on the age of the character to establish a basis of connection. Characters there go through all kinds of experiences associated with their age group. A fifteen-year-old experiencing her first kiss. A sixteen-year-old gearing up for junior year and worrying about standardized testing. A seventeen year old slaving away working on college applications.
In contemporaries, it’s like age is a part of the character’s identity but in far less realistic novels, it doesn’t play as large of a role.
What do you think?
Can you age out of YA?
How much of a role does age play in a novel?