That said, a writer named Sarah Trimmer laid out the terms for this distinction over a century earlier, in 1802, in her children's literature periodical, titled The Guardians of Education, describing "young adulthood" as the period between ages 14 to 21 -- which, for the most part, is still considered the genre's age range (some fudge it to 12 to 18).
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It wasn't until the '90s, however, that YA fantasy, as its own YA sub-genre, really found its footing.
Series like Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel, and Tamora Pierce's Immortals set the stage for the YA fantasy explosion.
The Young Adult Library Services Association was established in 1960s to represent readers between the ages of 12-18.
Many of the books aimed at teens were "realistic" at this point, eventually devolving into what were derogatorily coined "problem novels," which were simplified illustrations of a single social issue a teenager may or may not encounter, along the lines of divorce or gang violence.
Before the 1920s, books were either written for adults or children, as this was the only age distinction that really existed within the collective imagination.
During the 1920s, however, the idea that the young are a separate generation, distinct from both children and adults, began to gain some traction.
They appeal to young adults and adults alike, as the book's passionate characters and emotional nakedness provide a much-needed respite from the sometimes cryptic nature of adulthood.
Whether you take it or leave it, love it or loathe it, from Vampire-Werewolf love triangles to 800 year old warlocks disguised as 19 year old boys, YA Fantasy is an ever-growing genre with a surprising amount of depth -- and, as with Children's Fantasy, wading through the growing mountains of books in search of that life-changing gem can be an arduous task.
Had Harry Potter not caught on like it did, it's hard to say whether or not we'd have series like The Mortal Instruments or The Hunger Games.