My Journey Out of the YA Section

Two years ago, I crept into an unknown part of my library. I had read all of the children’s books, and I needed something new. I peeked into the teen section. Was I allowed inside? I was only twelve, after all. After some thought, I decided that twelve was close enough to thirteen, and I turned the corner. I tore through book after book. The Hunger Games. Divergent. Matched. I read them all. I loved reading about dystopian love triangles in which the main characters always fell in love by the end. 

Right as I turned fourteen, quarantine happened, and all the libraries closed. I hated reading books online, and listening to audiobooks just wasn’t the same. I had read all of my own YA books, and I couldn’t get any more. How would I survive without death, romance, and rebellion?

I got desperate. I tried reading my little brother’s books, but I finished those, too. I couldn’t just read my parents’ boring nonfiction books, could I? I hated nonfiction. Why would I spend my time reading about history and science when I already had to learn about it for school? Eventually, I just couldn’t take it. I had to read something. I picked up one of my dad’s books that was lying on the coffee table, The Mosquito. I opened the cover, and I read the book jacket. I was a little skeptical. How could mosquitos have changed history? Why should I care?

It turns out that mosquitos changed the world quite a lot, and The Mosquito changed my world a lot, too. For the first time, I was fascinated by a nonfiction book, and I realized that maybe other nonfiction books were interesting, too. I read more of my dad’s books, and to my surprise, after I started reading them, I didn’t miss my old YA books at all. In fact, when I tried to read one again, I found myself bored. I realized that I had already read the story before. It was a book that I had never read, but I knew exactly what would happen. The main characters go through something hard, perhaps a rebellion or an illness, and they end up either dead or as a couple in love. 

After I noticed that most YA books reuse the same plot lines over and over, I discovered that I had lost interest in reading them. Reading about the same love triangles was predictable and boring. Since then, I haven’t read another YA book. Instead, I’ve read nonfiction and some classics, which are engaging because I don’t know how they’ll end. 

Although I’ve lost interest in YA novels, I do still see their appeal. Predictable endings can be comforting in uncertain times. Despite some YA novels’ subpar writing, they are easy to read quickly, as they don’t require much thought — making them a good break from more complex books that are harder to understand. The settings are often unrealistic, which can provide an escape from the ordinary world. 

If you love YA novels, I totally understand where you’re coming from. However, if you find yourself bored of the same stories recycled over and over, it might be worth it to try something new. Step out of your literary comfort zone! Maybe one new book could change your whole perspective.

Hana Shinzawa ‘24, Staff Writer