Because I am a librarian I get asked this question a lot: What is the YA age bracket?
MY answer as someone that works with kids and parents is 15+... but the full answer is not that straight forward.
The term Young Adult means one thing in everyday society and another in the publishing world.
In psychology, young adults are anyone between the ages of 18 to around 25.
In the publishing world, young adult is a marketing term (not a genre as we often call it) and is geared to slightly older teens. Let's face it, it's a clever marketing term, not many teens like to be called a teen (because we usually refer to teens as immature and confused), so the term 'young adult' is much friendlier. It also works for older people (like myself) that enjoy that type of literature, hence YA literature does not have a maximum age. In fact, adults make up well over 40% of the YA market.
In book publishing though, the marketing categories often are:
- children's books 0-8
- middle grade/juvenile 9-12
- young adult 12+
- new adult and adult fiction 18+
So there are three things you should keep in mind:
- often when ya authors are asked their target audience they will answer 15+
- if you go to a library, school or other, it is unlikely the age bracket above will be followed because many ya books are not considered appropriate for such young teens. And as a library worker I wholeheartedly agree. Six of crows for example caused us problems with parents because of the violence. Many books that deal with mental problems or abuse are too heavy for young teens too. There are exceptions of-course, but more often than not, 12 is too young of age for about 50% of the ya books out there.
- last but not least, many readers that grow up reading a certain author will continue to call that author's books ya even if the author has tried to move away from it. Sarah J Maas being a perfect example. Acotar series is NOT ya, once the book has explicit sex scenes, it is no longer ya. And that brings up to a very new category in the publishing world: New Adult! New adult books are (put shortly here) all ya like books that have explicit sex. NA has the same style of writing and similar topics as ya, but it also provides what many adults miss in ya...