What happens when you stop loving YA?

Posted on May 26, 2023
tl;dr: Life after YA will not only be ok, but can be truly exciting.

For many of us who have grown up to be voracious readers, the Young Adult literary space is a reliable and familiar home. On choosing a YA book, you are somewhat guaranteed to encounter simple prose and young, often female main characters in ‘coming-of-age’ stories. Young Adult is not restricted by genres like science fiction or romance, and it is a perfectly valid place to stay if you’re happy there. But what do you do, if like me, young adult starts to wear thin. How do you reach out to adult literature?

For me, my love of young adult started to wane when I was around 16. The tropes weren’t doing it for me any more, the ever-present love triangle was more grating than it was interesting. I couldn’t help but want more from whatever I read. It was time for me to branch out. This was a little bit scary and definitely sad. I’d loved YA for a long time, and it was where I felt comfortable. There was a time when (admittedly at 13/14), I thought that I would never want to reach out beyond YA. However, for the last 3-4 years I’ve mostly not read YA and am extremely happy that I accepted my fate and branched out. I have discovered so much about my preferences as a reader, about new genres, and new authors that I will continue to explore.

Without further ado, here are some tips to make this transition a little bit easier:

Identify what adult genres correspond to your YA preferences.

For me, this was science fiction and fantasy – or speculative fiction in general. I had always loved a good dystopian and this didn’t change when I moved toward exploring adult literature. If for you, that great love is romance, then it could be time to explore some adult romance novels.

The world of Adult books is much larger than that of YA.

I’ll be working from my own preferences here, but in science fiction, for example, the young adult space is dominated by dystopias that broadly lack the depth of adult dystopia. All the more, ‘adult’ speculative fiction has hundreds of subgenres, many of which are either absent from the YA space, or have features that are applied as speculative tropes in what is otherwise a romance book. While the sheer greater volume of books you’re now aware of can be daunting, it can also be really exciting when you discover a niche that you simply did not have access to in YA.

Discover the classics.

This can be the classics of your favourite genres, identified by the endless listicles and amazing book reviewers you can find online. Or, this can include the classics of various literary canons. In general, I have found that these books are considered classics for a reason, and I am yet to read a book considered a ‘classic’ without being able to understand why it retains significance and popularity. However, while classics have ended up doing it for me, they may not be for you! It is absolutely okay to decide that you want to stick on the emerging end of things, but don’t be afraid to give classics a shot.

You don’t have to stop loving your old favourites. But you may not want to reread them.

There are many books that I have deeply fond memories of, that I am fairly certain I would not like on reread now that I’m a bit older. That doesn’t mean these books are bad, but that I am no longer the intended reader. For this reason, there are some books that I will simply never reread, but there are others that I continue to stand by and truly enjoy. You may find over time that your old favourites have moved aside in your heart a little bit, and that’s ok. You can and will find new treasures for the next season of your life.

For me, the transition away from YA has been both daunting and extremely rewarding. Hopefully the tips given here have been helpful for anyone embarking on this journey, or at least that my positivity has been reassuring. Comment below if you have anything to say about your own experiences falling out of love with a particular genre or age-category like Young Adult!