There’s something that’s been bugging me for quite a while now, and I think it is time to clear the air, and I want to explain why I think people should…
Stop referring to books written for a specific age group as the genre of that book!
These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section. So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!
An age group is a reading category. That is not the same as a genre!
There, I’ve said it! Why am I saying this? Because dammit, I’m sick and tired of everyone saying that the genre they read is “Young Adult” novels, for example. NO… YA isn’t a genre. YA books are books meant to be read by people in that age group (although we know many adults read them), just like children’s fiction books are books written for children, and so on and so fourth. This really isn’t an opinion, but an actual fact. But it seems to me that many bloggers are confusing things here, by thinking that YA is a genre, when it really isn’t.
Let me be more precise. There are two main, overarching types of fiction – literary, and genre. Literary fiction is, according to the Master Class website: “Literary fiction is not a rigidly defined term, but most works of literary fiction include one or more of these facets:
- Character-focused narratives
- Ample symbolism, metaphor, and allegory
- Advanced vocabulary infused with imagery
- Ambiguous plot points, including even the work’s conclusion
- Exploration of larger philosophical themes regarding the human condition and the will of nature
- Exploration of larger trends in history and culture
- Lack of adherence to a fixed plot formula”
On the other hand, genre fiction “tends to be defined by the following characteristics:
- Adheres to time-honored formulas for plot and character arcs
- Typically more literal with fewer obscure symbols and allegories
- Whatever symbolism might exist is typically clear and easily accessible to all readers
- Often fits specific genres like mystery, horror, science fiction (sci-fi), romance, military thrillers, and spy novels”
Okay so… what are YA (children, Middle Grade, Adult, etc.) if they’re not genres?
Simple… these are categories of books, as stated through this article in The Atlantic, “One thing Y.A. is not is a genre; it’s a category, as with adult literature, containing all sorts of types of writing, from fiction to nonfiction. As Tracy van Straaten, VP at Scholastic, reminded us, “Something people tend to forget is that YA is a category not a genre, and within it is every possible genre: fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, non-fiction. There’s so much richness within the category.“”
This means that YA, or any other category of book for that matter, can be of any genre there is out there, but it is NOT a genre in and of itself. So next time you go to write your review of a YA book, and you have a little heading that says “Genre: ___” could you please not answer YA, or Adult, but rather answer that with the real genre, meaning fantasy or romance, for example. Then you can just add another heading that says “Category: ___” and there you can say YA, or Adult, or Children. What do you think? Wouldn’t that make things clearer for everyone?
Okay, rant over!
(Don’t get me started on what is or is not historical fiction… hm… maybe I should write discussion post about that!)
So… what do you say?
Can we all finally stop calling age group categories genres, or not?
This post is my 17th entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!