Can you write a topic that's YA but not teenager-y?
Question I'm writing a story, and I want it to be directed towards generally teenager age readers, but I am terrified of it being put in the same class as books such as Twilight and The Hunger Games. It's going to be more serious than that, more mature, not for the ever texting teenagers that are so 'in' right now. Well, unless they have an intellectual side, that is. But not for 30 years olds either. Is there a way to break the genre barrier? Answer:
There are all types of teenagers, and the smarter, more mature ones read a variety of books, not just the ones that are big, trendy hits.
So what differentiates a teenage or YA book from an adult book?
One trait is that YA books typically have teenage or young adult main characters who are dealing with problems the reader can relate to. Okay, most teens don't fall in love with vampires, but the vampirism in Twilight
is just a metaphor for a sex drive - something teens certainly do wrestle with. It's quite common in fantasy and science fiction to deal with real world issues metaphorically. Another example: the X-men comics use mutation as a metaphor for every group that faces prejudice.
Of course, there are also books with teenage main characters that are intended for adults. However, these are often written from the point of view of an older narrator. The perspective is different.
You'll find that just about every genre can be done as YA. Beyond fantasy and science fiction, there are YA romances, westerns, mysteries, literary fiction, historical fiction, etc. etc.
There's really no reason why you can't write a serious or philosophical book for teenagers. Just don't talk down to them. Present the issues in a way they can relate to. You'll find there are plenty of thoughtful teens who like books about ideas.