I'm not sure why I've been wondering this...I avoid writing YA, and since I'm not a young adult and don't have any young adult children, the genre of the books I read doesn't really matter.
But maybe it's the fact that I'm a high school teacher, or the fact that I just like to know things, but I'm really curious...what makes a novel YA?
It's a tricky genre. One could say that it is nearly impossible to nail down. There can be YA romance, YA fantasy, YA general fiction, sci-fi, even horror (Goosebumps, anyone?), but what I want to know is where the line is actually drawn.
Or maybe just where you think the line is drawn, because I have a feeling that people will agree on this matter about as easily as they will agree on who is the best political candidate for the next election.
I've participated in discussion boards (some of which turned into virtual fights) about this very topic. Most participants seem to feel that YA is best determined by the protagonist's age. If the protagonist is 13-17 (or maybe 18), it is YA. Basically, if the protagonist is a young adult, the story is a young adult novel.
End of story.
On one hand, I get it. It makes sense. If the protagonist is a teen, it's a teen book, right?
That's what most of the people on those boards seemed to think. But then I suggested that content should play a part in that discussion, and I got a couple of lukewarm "maybes" but mostly a bunch of "absolutely nots!" and then a descent into fights about censorship and fascism (I wasn't a participant in that part of the argument, although I found it amusing, enlightening, and alarming in turns).
So for a couple dozen posts it looked like either you categorized a book as being YA by the age of the protagonist or you were a fascist trying to censor today's youth by limiting them to books with "appropriate" content.
Not the turn I had expected the conversation to take.
So I thought I would bring the conversation to a different setting--a blog. What do you think makes a novel YA? Is it the age of the protagonist, or does content play a part?
And remember, YA is not synonymous with books teens enjoy, it is a category written (or at least marketed), with the idea that teens will be the primary audience.