Thursday, November 29, 2018

Do you age up YA characters?

It's no secret that a LOT of adults read young adult fiction. I actually didn't start reading YA until I was 25. In fact, I didn't even know it was a thing when I was a teenager! I've always known, of course, that the characters in YA books are teenagers, usually around age 16. Somehow in my brain though, they're never actually that young.

Recently I was very fortunate to be reading an early copy of Wicked Saints and the realization of just how young the characters were really hit me.

There's a male character in the book who has been directly compared to The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy about a million times all over the internet. Since The Darkling is my favorite character of all time, I was SO excited to meet this guy! But... then he was 17. For some reason this really stood out to me in contrast to The Darkling, who's much older. I think it was only because of that direct comparison that the fact that I age characters in my head finally hit me.

Often when I'm reading, the characters, male and female, hover around mid- to late-20s in my mind. If I really stop and think about a character being a teenager, it does get a little weird for me, especially considering that I was an extremely sheltered teenager who most certainly wasn't finding the love of my life or having mountain shaking sex. (Yikes.)

I feel like the actual ages of the characters are much easier to roll with in contemporary fiction. Usually in contemporary YA the teen characters are relatable, usually (close to) as awkward as I was as a teenager, and they're mostly doing normal teenage things. Growing up, dating boys, fighting with their parents. But I mostly read fantasy and it's in these books that I have the hardest time getting ages to compute. Surely this is not a 16 year old girl battling monsters with an ax and leading armies. How even?

Am I the only one who does this? I'm very curious to know if other adults reading YA also age up the characters in their minds. Let me know in the comments if you picture YA heroes and heroines as older than they are or if you have no problems letting them be teenagers!