Young Adult science fiction and fantasy
The Young Adult category of science fiction and fantasy novels has seen a boom thanks to a number of highly skilled authors including JK Rowling, Garth Nix and many others.
So what exactly is Young Adult fiction (YA for short)? Essentially YA is fiction written for or marketed towards the young adult market, roughly the ages between 14 and 21.
There are usually distinct attributes that distinguish YA from adult fiction and the primary of these is the age of the protagonist, which in the vast majority of cases is of adolescent age. This is usually then reinforced with the story and subject matter consistent with that age group.
Another popular attribute focuses on the challenges that growing up, or being adolescent bring, sometimes even referred to as problem novels or coming of age novels.
There is of course a vast and varied history of young adult novels, dating as far back as 1812 with "The Swiss Family Robinson"
The popularisation of the young adult market didn't really take off though until the late 1950's and early 1960's, with 2 precursors paving the way in the shape of "The Catcher in the rye" and "Lord of the flies". These books were written with an adult audience in mind but featured the young adult distinctions of young protagonists and this appealed to the younger market.
As publishers began to focus on this emerging market, the distinction began to gain clarity and during the 1970's up to the mid 1980's the market matured with challenging novels that spoke directly to the adolescent psyche.
Since the release of popular series like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, Young Adult novels have seen a growth in the genres of both science fiction and fantasy.