The Rise of Adult Read YA Novels

In a recent issue, New York magazine ran an article, “The Thirty-something Teen: An adult YA addict comes clean,” written by Jen Doll. Faced with such criticisms as adult fans of YA (Young Adult) novels are stuck in a sad adolescent existence and, quite possibly, bringing down the collective IQ of our nation by reading below grade level, Doll highlights some of the reasons many adults enjoy the guilty (not so guilty anymore) pleasure YA novels have become.

Some can argue that the trend started with Harry Potter and progressed quickly into the vampire love affair The Twilight Saga, but there can be no argument that the trend is on the rise. YA novels aren’t all wizards and mythical creatures anymore; some of these quick reads tackle real-life issues such as addiction, abuse and death as well as lighter subjects from realizing first loves to coming of age. No matter what the subject matter, there is something to gain—a connection to a younger you that may have been lost over the years. YA novels can bring it all back again. That being said, here are a few YA novels to peruse—guilt free!


Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

(Atria Books, 2010)

This one is great to start with for a number of reasons. Yes, it’s a novel about zombies, but that’s only the base. This book goes a lot deeper than that—at its core is a novel that teaches a lesson about love and acceptance. The main character, a zombie, reverts back from walking dead status to find his humanity again—through love. It’s a sweet story, wrapped in a bit of a gore and sprinkled with comedic moments. And here’s why you don’t have to feel guilty: The actual age of the main characters is never told. For all we know, they could be adults!


The Perks of Being a Wall- Flower by Stephen Chbosky

(MTV Books, 1999)

A coming of age novel, this YA treat deals with more than just getting through high school. It’s a novel that touches on the basics of teenage angst—all while battling dark secrets and mental health issues. The novel is also heavily influenced by literature and music, allowing for a deeper connection to the story. Though based on an adolescent, the theme of the novel is transcendent across generations.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

(Little Brown, 2009)

This novel touches on a subject matter not well known or thought about in today’s society. The main character, a Native American, leaves his reservation for a chance at a better education—and is faced with the harsh reality of the devastating effects poverty, racism and alcoholism have on Native American communities. The novel also features over 60 comedic illustrations (the main character is a cartoonist) meant to complement the story and depict the changes in the main character.


Go Ask Alice, Anonymous by Beatrice Sparks

(Prentice Hall, 1971)

First published in 1971, this novel is the faux-diary of an anonymous teenage girl. The plot unfolds around the main character’s battles with drug addiction, sexual abuse and the attempt to change her life for the better. In 1971, it was a real eye-opener—and remains so to this day—to the painful reality of drug abuse, getting clean and the difficulty of staying clean.

Citation: Doll, Jen. “The Thirtysomething Teen: An adult YA addict comes clean.” New York Magazine 14 Aug. 2013, 64-66.



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