By Nyla Lee
YA literature has evolved from its popularized dystopian worlds and dramatized love triangles.
As its target demographic ages out of the genre, YA fiction phases out of what used to work for its genre.
This is where YA thrillers make their mainstream appearance. From TikTok (Booktok anyone?) to Goodreads, YA thrillers have made their way around book clubs and circles in place of the previously-liked subgenres and tropes.
Before breaking down why young adults love YA thrillers, it is important to understand just what the subgenre is.
Table of Contents
What Are YA Thrillers?
YA thrillers are novels with darker and psychologically compelling plots to keep the reader sucked into the world’s mysteries.
You may confuse thrillers with mysteries, but there is a big difference between the two.
While thrillers encase themselves in supernatural and psychological splendor, mysteries tend to focus on real life and have concern for crimes that were committed.
There are books that combine mystery and thriller, such as Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, which combines the mystery of a mysterious crime with the dread and unraveling suspense that thrillers bring to fiction.
But all in all, YA thrillers are entirely different and more ethereal from their traditional YA fiction counterparts.
In fact, its differences are what make young adult readers love it so much.
The first difference is its thrilling presence without the dangerous consequences.
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Exciting Reasons Young Adults Love YA Thrillers
But is a change in subgenres the only reason young adults love YA thrillers?
I have discovered that there is more to it than simple phasing.
YA Thrillers Contain Thrill Without Consequences
Feelings and emotions are important parts of young adulthood. And literature is one of the many ways to understand and discover emotions, especially more exciting ones that may be unknown to you.
As YA thrillers are suspenseful and surprisingly dangerous, this sense of suspense and danger can entice you– the feeling of thrill that ventures between fear and excitement. Although this mix of emotions is confusing, some young adults may gravitate towards more.
This is why the new trend of YA thrillers is so popular among young adult readers.
While the consequences of the thrills are not present, the feeling is new and interesting.
It makes you want to keep going. To continue to see where the story leads and if the path continues to be dark and winding.
These dark and winding roads can lead to another difference between YA thrillers and traditional YA fiction that young adults love: darker motivations.
Darker Psychological Motivations are Explored in YA Thrillers
In many YA novels, authors spoon-feed motivations for plots and arcs to the reader. May that be through exposition from a villain or information dumping from the main protagonist, the motivations are clear-cut and definitive.
With YA thrillers, many motivations have no clear answer. Imitating real life, YA thrillers tend to use complex motivations that strive for darker interests. That comes as a means of furthering the suspense and dreadful tone.
This is the appeal that young adults gravitate towards with YA thrillers. Nothing is exact or easily solved, which amps up the stakes for the reader and characters.
The plot itself details themes such as murder, sexual assault, self-destructive behavior, grief, and depression.
The main point of this choice is to highlight the book’s tone. Once the narrator dies in the first chapter, the tone of the book shifts entirely.
It becomes suspenseful and depressing as the narrator’s family comes to terms with her death and finds out who murdered her– which the audience is aware of the entirety of the novel’s duration.
As a young adult, it is easy to feel mature being able to comprehend these themes and motivations while reading. The reason young adults love YA thrillers so much.
The books are raw and get into your mind in the blink of an eye, which trails into why it’s so different from traditional YA fiction.
Traditional YA Fiction Differs from YA Thrillers
Naturally, YA fiction checks off a few pre-planned boxes.
Or a cookie-cutter method for making a YA fiction novel: young characters, a compelling plot, a problem, and a solution to the problem that will end the story or continue into many trilogies or sequels.
YA thrillers, on the other hand, differ from such predictable outlines.
Many YA thrillers thrive as standalones, sometimes not receiving satisfying endings for the sake of keeping their dark themes present to the end.
Young adults want books that make them think. Make them question their reality, the narrators, and character motivations. Plus, they want to appreciate a book that has no clear ending.
Having traditional YA fiction with loose ends tied up by three hundred pages can get tedious, and YA thrillers do not always have that issue.
They bring something fresh to the table, which is why young adults find such solace in its content.
Wrap Up – Why Do Young Adults Love YA Thrillers?
YA thrillers are not the usual YA fiction readers are used to seeing on the shelves.
As young adults phase out from dystopian revolts and overly complicated love triangles, they seek out literature that will feed their minds.
With their darker takes on psychological material and mature subject matter, YA thrillers do just that.
The subgenre is a means of maturing, and understanding the world is not as black-and-white as traditional YA fiction paints it out to be.