YA Appreciation Month

Young Adult Appreciation Month – Guest post: Lenore from Presenting Lenore

For our Young Adult Appreciation Month, we invited a few bloggers to write a piece on reading and blogging about Young Adult books. This week’s guest is Lenore from the blog Presenting Lenore one of our favorites YA blogs, always with great reviews and features about the genre.

Here is what she has to say on reading YA novels:

Last week, upcoming debut author Karen Kincy (OTHER, Flux – July 2010) asked on twitter if romance was necessary in YA fantasy. I replied no. Not counting my brief love affair with Harlequin historicals in my early teens, I’ve never been a big romance reader. For that matter, I’ve never been a big fantasy reader either. So it surprised me when I took a closer look at my reading list that of the 56 YA books I’ve read so far this year, 31 were classified as fantasy or had fantasy/paranormal elements. And a surprising number of those actually contained compelling, believable romances.

If you look at the YA market as a whole, and especially at the top sellers, you see that fantasy (and especially urban fantasy) is hot right now. Main characters are finding out left and right that they have secret powers and/or are falling in love with vampires, zombies, faeries, werewolves, angels, etc. And even self-professed fantasy/romance avoiders like me are reading them. Why?

Certainly the popularity of fantasy series like Harry Potter and Twilight paved the way, making it not only acceptable, but cool for teens and adults to read YA (the accepted theory being that in the past, because of “reading up”, only tweens were reading YA). And readers looking for something in a similar vein have a lot of really high quality choices these days, so naturally, they keep coming back for more.

Still, as much as YA fantasy has apparently captured my heart, I don’t really see myself crossing over to read adult fantasy. It’s most likely because the coming of age aspect present in most YA novels lends itself in my mind more towards paranormal plots than adult centric novels. The teenage years are characterized by discovery of identity so it’s less of a stretch to read about a teen character suddenly sprouting wings or learning that only they have the power to defeat killer unicorns.

And not that paranormal romance is really my thing, but in YA, it makes more sense too. After all, first crushes are all about the unattainable (read: safe). Teens declare their love for the latest hot actor or rock singer, but who is more elusive than a fictional supernatural being?

I sent Karen Kincy a list of my fantasy likes and dislikes which looked something like this:


· Roots in the real world

· Real stakes

· Originality in concept and plot

· Logical, clear mythology

· Strong, appealing MC that shapes his or her own destiny

· A tight, standalone novel (that’s so good, it makes me beg for a sequel).


· Action set in a purely fantasy world

· Tons of weird creatures and monsters, especially ones who zip around and speak gibberish

· Plots where MC goes on a quest and meet various hurdles along the way

· MC who simply lets the plot carry him or her through the book

· Series books with padding and maddening cliffhangers.

Recent YA fantasy books I loved (all admittedly with at least a bit of romance in them)

· SWOON by Nina Malkin

· FAIRY TALE by Cyn Balog

· SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater

· RAMPANT by Diana Peterfreund

· DUST OF 100 DOGS by AS King

· MY FAIR GODMOTHER by Janette Rallison

Obviously I favor urban fantasy over high fantasy, but that doesn’t mean everyone does.
Do you? Do you read fantasy at all? How about YA? Why do you think YA fantasy is so popular right now? And do you need a romance element in your fantasy or not?


Great questions Lenore and thanks for your post! Answer away folks, comments are open!


  • Beth F
    August 3, 2009 at 4:59 am

    I got into YA because I love fantasy and so much good fantasy these days is classified as YA. Then my niece got me interested in non-fantasy YA and I am amazed at how much YA I read and love.

    YA is popular because of HP. Lots of authors are riding on Harry’s shirttails and lots reluctant or timid readers who liked HP are not branching out into other genres.

    As a fantasy fan, I’m glad to see more of it, including urban fantasy, but the popularity of fantasy and paranormal books comes with a price: some of it is only so-so and may not have been published in a different fan climate.

  • Lenore
    August 3, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Beth, it’s funny how opposite our journeys were. I got into fantasy because I love YA and you got into YA because you love fantasy.

  • Ana
    August 3, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Fantasy (epic Fantasy) is one of my favorite genres and so is romance. The combination of these two in YA is what brought me to the genre. 😀

  • katiebabs
    August 3, 2009 at 5:21 am

    I am reading more YA than ever. I was just at B&N last week and the YA section is huge! I wonder why YA is in such an upswing? Or has it always been like this?

  • Nymeth
    August 3, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Though I love fantasy, I’m actually a bit disconnected from what’s happening with YA urban fantasy right now (the only exception being Wicked Lovely). SO I really appreciate the recommendations – The Dust of 100 Dogs is one that sounds particularly good.

  • Gerd Duerner
    August 3, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Sounds like I have to put “Shiver” on my to watch for list after all, there’s few enough good Werewolf lit to be found.

  • Evie
    August 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Fresh talented voices are writing YA and the books have changed so much since I was considered YA myself.

    I love urban fantasy but read across the board. I’m not a fan of strictly romantic plots but I do enjoy sexual tension/romantic elements even in YA novels. Hormones are wicked crazy during that time, so without the tension from the opposite sex it seems unrealistic to me. The challenge is to handle it tastefully.

  • CupK8
    August 3, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I read adult fantasy and romance on a regular basis and was reading them both before YA had such a variety; the YA I do remember reading was fantasy-based, like Pulman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – before Harry and his scar.

    I definitely think Potter’s gang helped bring YA fantasy to the forefront, but IIRC, a lot of YA had fantasy elements before that. I think it has something to do with young minds and their vivid imaginations. I read a lot of fantasy as a young reader because I wanted to escape my dreary daily existence and go on an adventure. 🙂

  • Lana
    August 3, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I like fantasy, and I actually generally prefer straight-up fantasy to urban fantasy (unless the urban is funny – I love the paranormal chicklit sorts of urban fantasy but really dislike the dour brooding urban fantasy). I really enjoy romantic elements, but they’re not a must-have. I’d rather someone leave them out than add a tacked-on happily ever after between characters who had no chemistry throughout.

  • Jen
    August 3, 2009 at 10:59 am

    This was great! I do like both straight-up and urban fantasy!

    Theres a lot of the romance type ones lately and they are fun ^_^

  • KMont
    August 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I am loving the epic fantasy right now. I’m on the final book in the first Noble Dead saga. I used to read more epic fantasy, but just recently got back to it with this series. It feels like I’ve been on some incredible journey. HAd no idea I missed it so much, the genre.

    On other hand, I love urban fantasy too. Just depends on the mood! As for YA fantasy, I’m loving all that we’re seeing. The imagination is essential for YA readers, so why not YA fantasy?

    BTW, all your dislikes at the end of your post? I do love most of them! 😀 Even maddening cliffhangers, if done right, make me screech (happily mind) for the next book.

    I too say boo to padding though.

    Romance is great in fantasy. Bring it on, but I’m prepared for it being less developed than other aspects.

  • Alyssa @ Teens Read and Write
    August 3, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I’m an urban fantasy lover, not straight fantasy. Yes I enjoy romance mixed in but prefer it be secondary to the action and suspense.

  • MaryK
    August 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I mainly read Romance so I do like a romance element in my fantasy. In addition to Romance, I also read Urban Fantasy and some of what I think of as “light fantasy” (as opposed to High/Epic Fantasy) – Patricia Briggs, Pamela Dean, etc.; but I’m essentially a Fantasy newbie.

    I got into YA Fantasy through Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and I don’t care for contemporary or grounded-in-reality YA. I’m downright allergic to YA set in highschools. (Though I decided to stretch myself and ordered a copy of Blood and Chocolate. Hopefully, the fantasy aspect will overshadow the highschool aspect.)

    I didn’t read much YA when I was growing up because I didn’t have any kind of guidance and, on my own, kept coming up with “message” books. I missed out on a lot of classic YA Fantasy so I’m still catching up on authors like Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones.

    One of the reasons I like YA Fantasy is that it’s Fantasy without the Epic. Epic Fantasy intimidates me. As for why YA Fantasy is so popular right now, my inexpert opinion is that the HP books brought the genre into the spotlight. The audience was probably always there, and the market is catching up.

  • Angie
    August 4, 2009 at 9:19 am

    As you know, I read and love it all. Adult fantasy/scifi, YA fantasy, YA contemporary, urban fantasy. You name it. I had a fifth grade teacher who introduced me to YA fantasy and I read a few classics (Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper) but there still wasn’t a ton else available in YA (and I was frequently living in remote areas without much access to larger libraries/bookstores) so I went and read a ton of adult stuff and then came back to it when I discovered Tamora Pierce and such. I love a bit of romance in my fantasy. I freely admit it.

  • Kay
    August 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    What a fantastic guest post! I’m a fan of fantasy too. Now I read mostly urban fantasy types of books, but I enjoy high fantasy too. I love discovering new worlds, creatures, characters that are “out of this world”.

    I enjoy romance as long as it doesn’t overtake the whole story. I want a character to be defined by more aspects of his/her life than his/her romantic life!

  • zibilee
    August 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Great post. I have to admit that I have gotten some really great recommendations for YA fantasy from your blog, and that is a genre that I have never really exposed myself to before. I tend to agree with you about liking YA fantasy, but not it’s adult counterpart.

  • alana
    August 5, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I just like good fantasy books. Whether or not it’s YA, sword and sorcery fantasy, high fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, or horror makes little difference (though I do have a soft spot for urban and post-apocalyptic fantasy). I do like a bit of romance in my stories, but I don’t like romance driven plots. (I’ve noticed that stories without any romance or relationship-type story lines can be a bit flat when it comes to the characters.)

    I pretty much hate most romances in YA books though because they’re almost all utter nonsense. I also can’t stop thinking about what type of message a book is sending when I read YA. With standard fantasy I don’t have that problem.

  • Kyra
    August 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Love YA.

    I just finished Everything Sucks by Hannah Friedman and I’m reading it over again it was so great! Def. check it out. Fan freakin tastic.


  • Pol87
    October 22, 2009 at 10:55 am

    New measures added to this measures group for 2009 are denoted with an asterisk. ,

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