Rainbow Rowell didn’t set out to write YA

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com


But such nebulous (and, frankly, elitist) labels are not useful in explaining Rowell’s appeal. Her voice is welcoming and inclusive; she’s primarily interested in interpersonal relationships, but she’s also strongly influenced by genre writing and fan fiction, and has been vocal in her admiration for YA mega-franchises like the Harry Potter and Twilight books — both of which had a pronounced influence on Carry On.

Rowell’s success is indicative of the changes mainstream young adult fiction has undergone in the past half-decade. These changes are often attributed to Green’s massive success with The Fault in Our Stars and other books, but they also speak to the form’s broader ascendency, to the point where “young adult” is ceasing to be an effective label.

“Old” adults read as much — and possibly more — YA fiction than actual young adults, and authors like Rowell and Green (and many others) aren’t writing down to appeal to younger audiences. They’re simply writing from the viewpoint of teenagers, which is really the only useful definition left to describe YA fiction.

Rowell’s success is interesting in the way it both reflects YA’s recent history and challenges perceptions of the genre. Here’s what you need to know about her, her delightful books, and what those books say about the current state of YA.