The Young Adult Formula

Reading young adult books as an adult (strictly by age), I have begun to notice a trend and an obvious targeted audience. So lets pick on some of the more popular young adult books: Twilight series, Divergent series, Hunger game series, and the Red Queen series. What do they have in common?

A vaguely physically described young, white, and strong girl lead. All the girls are taken out of their normal lives and thrown into a new world of some kind. With the exception of the Divergent series, they all have love triangles with the a boy who is “good” for them and boy who was not what they expected. Why this formula and who are they targeting?

So, I did some minor research on reader demographics for young adult books and what I found may not be too shocking to some:

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The chart to the left is the snapshot of how many individuals have read at least one book a year and the chart to the right is how many individuals have read at least five books this year. So, women are reading more than men.Younger age groups are reading more than older age groups. More educated are reading more than less educated. The more wealthy are reading more than the less wealthy. Black people are more likely to have read at least one book but white people are more likely to have read at least five books.

 

Age breakdown:

78% of young adult book purchases are from ages 13 to 44.

Going to see some of these major series (particularly Twilight) at the movies, it does not surprise me that non teens are buying these books. I think there were more women in their 30’s at the Twilight movie than teenagers, like I was at the time.

 

Conclusion:

Wealthy, educated, white women under 40 is a huge market for book sellers. It may not be the only market but for book buyers but constitutes for a large portion. This demographic tends to read more and is more likely to read a series. Young adult books highlight a lot of what this demographic wants.

Having strong female leads who are vaguely physically described makes it easier for most women to relate with the character. And if you don’t believe me, think about your favorite Disney princess, what is her hair and eye color? Is it the same as yours?

Having a fairy tale romance, amazing looking men who are willing to do anything for an average looking girl. It’s unrealistic and a total fantasy but is why we read it, real life romance is boring (to read at least). And not only having one guy yearning for your affection but TWO men just makes it all that much more irresistible.

Ever notice how much the main character in young adult books whine? This may have to do with perception rich white women and teens. May also have to do with this demographic’s inability to relate to much more severe problems. Many of these characters have fairly serious issues including extreme poverty or life threatening battles and yet they complain about which perfect guy is more perfect. They complain about everything big or small, which doesn’t say much for us women…

Personal Note:

I am a part of this demographic and I do read young adult books. I just have become more aware how targeted of an audience privileged white women are, how formulaic young adult books have become. Even though I have enjoyed most of these books (besides the Twilight series which I never completed), I am hoping to see the genre expand out of this. Books with targeted audiences live in a small world, I yearn for books that just about everyone one some level could connect with. Which is possible, why do you think so many people believe in horoscopes? Because we all share some basic human nature qualities.

This all sparked from reading the Red Queen, which I do enjoy but the protagonist sounds like a privileged suburban girl and not like a impoverished beaten down girl she is suppose to be. Which I will get more into in my review but it’s irritating.

What do you think? Are there any books breaking the mold?

2 comments

  1. I’ve never really thought of the YA formula being really anything to do with race or wealth. I’ve always just seen it as teen girl+problem only she can solve= YA books which seems pretty accurate to me😂 but we definitely have a problem with a lot of the protagonists being straight up white, even if the majority of people reading it are white. YA needs to be catering for everyone 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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