It is very easy to be critical of today’s free and connected youth. We continually hear that the youth of today are too dependent on technology and don’t know what it is like to be a “normal” child who can create their own games from nothing. However are children continuing to embrace less technological concepts like reading? The youth of today is still far from being completely consumed by superficial technology. The fact is teenagers read, and are reading in greater numbers than you might expect. But what sort of books are young people interested in nowadays?
Teenage and young adult literature
Teenagers are obviously less enticed by long, classical novels that high schoolers are forced to read in class. Some authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Mary Shelly may attract a few but this is not the type of novels we are going to look at today.
Teenage books tend to be set in worlds that are similar to the world in which we will today. However it could be an imaginary, dystopian or fairy-tale world which is set in a fantasy setting. Although there are resemblances between our own world, the book offers a world than is much more exciting and less boring. As Sylvie Vassalo stated on France Culture, one thing all young adult books have in common is that “they focus on emotions and real situations that affect teenagers.”
Our fictional world
Everyone has had to go through adolescence and the emotional and stroppy moments. During these years, we have to learn to understand our environment. However this new generation have to get to grips with a much wider and bigger world than the world their parents and grand parents grew up in.
Social networks, internet and connectivity have considerably and profoundly changed the way in which we see the world today. However, despite all the positive changes there are also many negative ones. Concepts like violence, insecurity, a fluctuating economy, radicalization and sexual abuse are important for young people to understand in today’s world. This where new styles of teenage literature try and focus. Young adult books present an imaginary world but also answer questions that teenagers may be asking themselves about their society and environment.
Novels can talk freely about love, sex, rape, violence, death and illnesses. However although the worlds presented in these books resembles our own, fictionised aspects of the book make the subjects less brutal and harsh.
The effect of Harry Potter
One book series in particular has continued to capture the imagination of the young and less young alike. The popular Harry Potter Saga by J.K Rowling follows the lives of young witches and wizards living in a magical world that in many ways resembles our own. Enchanting readers with the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione, the book also helps teenagers to better understand their own world and environment.
via GIPHY/ J.K. Roling
As well as this popular saga, Japanese literature is seeing a growth of interest. Again, these books look at fantasy worlds in which teenagers can imagine and see themselves.
Adolescent and young adult books, which are often looked down on by reviewers and specialist journal, have an important place in the book market today. The youth of today are not necessary less educated or literary! Children’s novels are just adapting to the society in which we live today, which is different from fifty years ago.