In the wake of a Slate blogger YA-shaming adults (backlashes are occurring everywhere), I’d like to weigh in on why *I* dabble in “childish fiction.”
Complexity isn’t reserved for the old; it’s often a mistake that, too often, many adults forget how smart they were as kids and underestimate young adults. The difference is experience, not intelligence. Also, the point of view of a child isn’t any less interesting than an adult – or an alien, a monster, an animal, an addict, a plumber, or an artificial intelligence. Stephen King’s Stand By Me aka “The Body” has an all-child cast; It is born of childhood fears and has one leg in. Very few will argue that John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In is “for children.”
An interesting thing about YA is lessening the importance of sex in the story; the definition of adult (aka “literary”) fare seems to be that everything must be ultimately motivated by your crotch – music, film, poetry, whatever – because everything adults do in life must lead to something naked and primal. Kids also have the advantage of being blind to society-imposed gender roles rather than be pigeonholed in the way many adults classify things. The whole “put away childish things” and “know your place” is something children are taught, not something that just happens.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; unlike facts, opinions are never wrong. If you like books about complex feline societies masquerading as a social commentary on the human world, enjoy. YA is just another classification to help readers find what they’re looking for, no different from sci-fi, horror, romance, thriller, superhero, or whatnot.
The truth is this: a good story is a good story. Don’t feel guilty…just enjoy.