#TrendThursday | How relatable are the teenage protagonists in YA literature?

#TrendThursday | How relatable are the teenage protagonists in YA literature?

This week’s #TrendThursday will be used to talk about how relatable the 15, 16 and 17 year old protagonists that feature in Young Adult fiction.Β 

I will begin by discussing the characters that feature in the most popular genre within YA, Fantasy. These characters are typically in their teenage years and the story is set in a world full of magic, mystery and battles, as well as the frequently used sub-genre dystopian fantasy. In most cases the characters that are the focus of the author’s attention are usually thrust into a situation that far away from their normally lives. Responsibility, hope and power is placed upon their slender shoulders as they lead rebellions, battles and quests, accompanied by other teenage comrades. There seems to be a dearth of protagonists over the age of 18…

Although I appreciate that the authors are showing young people that they can and do anything that they set their minds to, as well as instilling a sense of morality and empathy in the characters that they hope to transfer to the readers. However, a certain stigma still surrounds the YA genre and I think it’s the unrelatable nature of the protagonists, by all means include teenage characters (there has to be some relevance to the primary audience) but there should be moves to include older characters that take centre stage without the book being caterogised as New Adult or an Adult Fantasy novel.

On the flip side, books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower that showcase the inner questioning, thinking and over thinking are great examples of how, if done well, a YA novel can create a relatable character that not only relates to teenagers but people who are older but have felt the same emotions. YA literature has a certain advantage of adult books when it comes to the very real emotions that the characters feel, the inner monologues are effective in the way that the feelings are quite often expressed perfectly and the reader can get a real sense of the specific emotion that the character is experiencing. These emotions are real and relatable, and everyone, not just a YA readership, will understand the emotion being described. An example from Perks is when Charlie wonders/questions if anyone at school and at home notices him. There have been times in most of our lives that we have also wondered that I am sure, but by having it expressed in a novel, and subsequently a film, it helps to normalise these feelings and to let young people know that we have all felt what they are feeling right now.


Let me know what you think about the relatable-ness of the young protagonists in YA literature. Do you think young characters in fantasy novels struggle to be relatable the more fantastical and other worldly the setting and situation they are placed in? Or, do you think author’s do enough inner monologues (usually through POV chapters) to make them relatable through the emotions they are feeling during their quests, assignments or rebellions?


I am currently in London doing a work experience/internship with DK Books which is going well so far, however I have only brought my brother’s iPad with me as the laptop wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, so all my blogging and commenting have been done on the iPad which I am not 100% used to yet, so I won’t be doing a #TrendThursday next week.

The next one will be on the 11th May.

The focus will be…are love triangles good or bad?


The Humpo Show | RichardΒ 

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3 thoughts on “#TrendThursday | How relatable are the teenage protagonists in YA literature?

  1. Pingback: The Seven Deadly Sins Book Tag

  2. I loved this question…it caught my eye right off when I happened to come to your site. I agree that while the teenager is the target audience some older characters would be welcome and still pertinent to the ultimate age group. I see new adult not being about college aged kids so much as books with sex as a predominant theme as that seemed to be the kid of books that fell into that category. I have found a similar problem at the other end with middle grade books. If you want a romance less story you find them in middle grade even if the world and plot could just as well fit in a YA category. If the YA genre and the general subcategories were better defined then age may not be such a defining part of what YA is as a genre.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. πŸ™‚
      I consider young adults to be between 16-24, but there are differences in situations within that age bracket. For example a 16 year old and a 24 year old would have differing things that have to deal with in their lives. So I definitely agree that there is a need for better subcategories within YA.

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