“What Are Young Adult Novels?” by Joan Y. Edwards
Young Adult Novels are books that may touch on childen’s issues or adult issues but written for and from the viewpoint and experiences of children who are 12-18 years old. They are sometimes called Problem Novels, Coming of Age, or Edgy Novels.
Criteria for Young Adult Novels
- Ages 12-18; Ages 12-20; Ages 12 and up – Grades 6 and Up)
- 40,000 – 90,000 words (160 – 360 pages) (may vary)
- 20-36 chapters (may vary)
- Number of pages per chapter (10-20 pages) may vary
- Words of Unlimited Number of Syllables
- Sentences of Unlimited Complex Structure
- Sentences may contain 40 words.
- Memorable, Strong Main Character
- Subject Matter and story lines are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character.
Plots are related to, but not limited to the following topics:
- Challenges of Youth
Internal change brought on by external events and fits into a bigger picture of the character’s world.
- Seventeen common topics for Young Adult novels. In a paper written by April Dawn Wells, she discovered seventeen common traits of young adult novels. They were “friendship, getting into trouble, interest in the opposite sex, money, divorce, single parents, remarriage, problems with parents, grandparents, younger siblings, concern over grades/school, popularity, puberty, race, death, neighborhood, and job/working.
- Edgy Topics for Young Adult Novels have more complicated plots than Middle Grade Novels. They may include edgy, sensitive subjects such as: pregnancy, abortion, rape, incest, gays, drugs, murder, suicide, and others that used to be taboo for young adult books.
- Situational Archetypes in Young Adult Novels: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young-adult_fiction#Usage_in_Education An excellent article that shows some of the classic situational archetypes in many young adult novels. I think you’ll enjoy this. It also lists books that use the archetypes. You can see if the plot for your manuscript of a Young Adult Novel fits into one of the archetypes. (See my blogpost about Eight Character Archetypes to Emphasize the Conflict in Your Story)
- The Main Character steps outside his own backyard and encounters adult problems for the first time. He has to figure out who he is and where he fits in with the family and the community. By the end of the book he loses his innocence and his eyes open to the ethical shortcomings of his family and the neighbors he has known all his life. He questions the values and beliefs of his parents and community.
- The Main Character takes note of how he influences and is influenced inside and outside his home – school, neighborhood, city (his larger world). He sees the actions and consequences of different behaviors of adults and other teenagers.
- The Main Character searches to find out who he is and decide his own beliefs and values. He may believe he can make a difference, or he may believe it’s useless. He may have to make changes himself and face his internal fears before he can change the world he lives in.
Examples of Young Adult Novels
- New York Best Selling Young Adult Books http://www.nypl.org/blog/2011/01/20/2010-nytimes-bestselling-ya-books-free-downloads
- Best Sellers Teen Books http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Teen/zgbs/books/28
1. “Best Sellers Teen Books.” http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Teen/zgbs/books/28
3. Marie C. Hansen, Jefferson Market Library “New York Best Selling Young Adult Books” http://www.nypl.org/blog/2011/01/20/2010-nytimes-bestselling-ya-books-free-downloads
4. Wells, April Dawn. “Themes Found in Young Adult Literature: A Comparison Study between 1980 and 2000.” University of North Carolina, Apr 2003. http://www.ils.unc.edu/MSpapers/2861.pdf Web. 28 Sept. 2010
5. Wikipedia.org. “Edgy Content”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young-adult_fiction#Edgy_content
6. Wikipedia.org. “Notable Authors” (Young Adult). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young-adult_fiction#Notable_authors
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it helped shed the light on ideas to answer the question, “What are Young Adult Novels?”
This is one in a series: I plan to add “What are Picture Books?” soon.
Please ask a question, tell me your favorite Young Adult Novel and why, or leave a your opinion. It makes me smile to hear from you.
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Believe in Yourself
Write the book that’s in your heart.
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards
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