As an Old Blogger who regularly reviews Young Adult books, I thought I'd take a moment to explain why. But first, allow me to share a little secret of the publishing world.
Don't tell Lena, but YA books are (with a few exceptions) actually written by adults. They're also agented, edited, published, and printed by adults.
Even after that process is finished, "real teens" won't get much of a chance to read the books unless they're first bought by adults. I'm talking about the librarians and bookstore owners, many of whom love YA lit too, which is why you can find a variety of books there instead of just the old standbys that are sure to sell. These folks base their purchasing decisions on the ARCs they receive and the buzz created by the publisher's publicity department (made up of, believe it or not, more adults!) which also decides whether and which bloggers to send ARCs to. Believe me, Lena and friends: you only stand to benefit when we treat "your" books with the respect they deserve rather than passing them over as kid stuff.
So, why do I read and review YA lit, more than two decades after graduating from high school?
- Because the authors are my cohorts and I find it inspiring to see what they're doing. If my book is ever published, I'll be pretty bummed if other adults don't bother reading it.
- Is writing with younger people in mind incompatible with writing a beautiful and engaging book? Of course not. Literature is literature. If I suspect a book of being fluffy or trashy, I'm not likely to read it--but there are as many of those to avoid in the adult genres as in the YA category.
- Adolescence is a crucial and fascinating stage of life--teens are an archetype of our power as humans to transform. I don't want to be sixteen again, but the challenges people face at that age still have relevance to me as an adult. My response to them is different than it would be if I were younger, but no less legitimate.
- I think it's worth sharing an adult perspective on what's being marketed to our kids. I don't hear teens complaining that certain themes in a currently popular vampire series are a disastrous blow to girls' self esteem. Does that mean it shouldn't be said? (I'd say it's an argument for the fact that it needs to be said).
I do take teens' reactions into account when I review a YA book. When I reviewed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I wasn't sure whether teens would appreciate the novel's voice, so I checked teen reviews and incorporated that into my review. Later, I blogged about a teen/adult discussion of that and other YA books at my library's Mock Printz Award workshop.
I encourage all teens who love books to make their voices heard. I love reading the reviews written by eloquent teens like Steph, Ari, Vanessa, and others, but there are many other ways for teens to make their opinions known. Talk with librarians and bookstore owners (some bookstores offer free ARCs in exchange for teen input on which books to buy), twitter or email publishers and authors, leave comments on their facebook pages and on book review blogs.
But don't get mad at the ex-teens of the world for "stealing" your books. Consider them a gift, from the many people who put so much heart and soul into making them happen, to you. Enjoy.