Avid readers in their teenage years are struck with an eminent problem: Should I read young adult or adult? While the latter route is “the road less traveled by”, both lead to entertainment. Each path has its own spread of diversity, an ever-changing flow of blacktop to gravel to earth. The intricacies of each category are often mocked or copied cross-ways, yet the best are utterly redone.
Content on the young adult shelf resembles its adult cousin quite a bit. Both should be monitored before release to young children, as neither are edited for content. However, that isn’t to say that none are kept clean. Constant changes plague both shelves with market shifts abound. Tales of romance have found a home in both bookstore corners. The reputation amassed by both is high, albeit faltering with the ages. Self-publishing has invaded adult and young adult markets alike, causing an even drop in average quality. Although the audience leans in one direction in all books, some adults read young adult and some young adults read adult. In fact, 55% of young adult is read by adults according to npr.org.
Many other aspects are as different as night and day. Other genres differ between categories. Dystopian science fiction is big at the moment, while paperback thrillers and romances sell the most in adult. Overall, young adult books sell more than adult. Young adult novels tend to be simpler than adult, although there are exceptions. Along the same lines, the quality of young adult writing is lower than adult. Protagonists’ ages generally reflect the audience’s, pushing the adult ages far higher. In most cases, Rule of Writing #1 (show don’t tell) is respected to a lesser degree in young adult. Young adult series’ popularity is established by crazes regularly. The converse’s popularity stems from advertising and entertainment value. Coming of Age stories tend to be young adult. The cast size is larger in adult more often than not, as pointed out by romanceuniverstity.org. There is a higher rate of 1st-person point-of-view in young adult and 3rd-person in adult. There are many exceptions to any general statements, creating a grey area.
The key marketing ages overlap in the grey area. For young adult, it’s roughly 13-22. For adult, it’s anywhere over 18. Neither fully suites the 18-22 crowd. The genres are therefore concurrent at that point. Recently, a new category has emerged in the grey: New Adult. New Adult novels usually detail the conflicts of the college-aged. Some books cannot be defined as young adult, New Adult, or adult. The Enderverse and Wheel of Time series are examples.
While a decision must be made book-to-book on which type to read, few consequences are found in either choice. Read what you want. Mix it up sometimes. In reading, you can’t go wrong.