Several stories in the genre feature young people taking on adult responsibilities
Last week, the news broke about the next big thing in young adult movie gold rush: Jeff Bridges purchased the movie rights to Lois Lowry's distopian young adult classic The Giver and planned to play the title roles. The Giver, set in a future where the remaining citizens of an endangered society have erased any signs of difference between them in the name of maintaining peace and order, follows a year in the life of a boy picked to take on a singular responsibility. Jonas has been chosen to hold on to a few remaining memories of experiences and emotions his society has banned so he can advise them on major decisions—and so he can bear both pain and joy his fellow citizens would find unmanageable.
Though the 18-year-old book hasn't attracted the same fanatical followings as newer series like The Hunger Games and Twilight, The Giver has many of the same themes, and a similar appeal. Rather than continuing trends of infantilizing young adult readers or providing an escape for adults who don't want to face the trials of the real world, The Giver and the most popular young adult books today all give their young protagonists significant adult responsibilities. The books then explore the way the characters rise to the challenge, crumble under their burdens, or learn to share them. These franchises aren't helping readers and viewers run away from the difficulties of adulthood: they're sending the message that with great power comes great cost, and great compromise.