Where are the Funny YA Books?

Humor books are some of the most popular children’s books on the market, from Wimpy Kid to Dog-Man.  Yet, when young readers transition from middle-grade books into young adult books, the types of stories they may have enjoyed are often lacking.  Search for “humorous YA books” online and you will likely end up with two distinct categories: dark humor and rom coms.  Readers looking for stories that are funny, but not too dark, or funny, but not romantic, are out of luck.

The lack of funny YA books is truly surprising considering how many readers love comedy.  It only seems natural that publishers and YA authors would want to tap into the market that has made so many humorous children’s books bestsellers.  And yet, the YA shelves are largely dominated by the same types of books: high fantasies, contemporary romance, occasional forays into sci-fi (often “kissing in space”), and the odd historical fiction.  Humor, as a genre, is mysteriously absent.

Perhaps the lack of funny books is a response to the tastes of adult readers, who have been driving the YA market and arguably creating the success behind darker YA titles such as Six of Crows.  But YA is still for teens and teen readers, I believe, would still like to read something funny.  Readers who enjoy comedy in middle school do not simply stop loving funny stories in high school.  Readers who enjoy certain types of stories often want to continue reading similar stories as they age.

And, really, it seems like writing a funny book for teens should be not that hard to do–I bet plenty of authors could easily create comedy out of a myriad of high school experiences, if nothing else.  Wimpy Kid already proved a writer can make a success out of humorous school stories.  I do not see why someone could not do something similar with teen characters confronting all the challenges of high school.  I do not see, for that matter, why someone could not write a funny story for teens set in space or in a medieval castle or anywhere at all.

I believe there is a market for humorous YA books that extend beyond dark comedy and rom coms.  I hope that we see funny books for teens released in the near future.  But, for now, I can only wonder why an entire genre seems to be missing from YA.

26 thoughts on “Where are the Funny YA Books?

  1. danielle says:

    I think about this all the time. Where are the funny snarky YA leads that aren’t focused on romance? It’s very strange that there are so little.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. devouringbooks2017 says:

    I love the darker tales, but sometimes you just need some humor. Some funny YA books that I have really enjoyed are:
    Get Happy
    Sway
    Starry Eyes
    Check them out. I think there are a good amount of funny contemporary books, but I don’t read a ton of contemporary novels, so a book that makes me laugh is always an amazing find.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      I did enjoy Dealing with Dragons! The sequel let me down a little, though, and I didn’t continue with the series, I don’t think.

      True! I have friends who love Terry Pratchett. Maybe they started reading him as teens? I’m not sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    If you extend this further, the same is true to adult, which has even fewer comedy books than YA, even. Which is a shame, because comedy is one of my favorite genres!

    I definitely think there’s a market for it, and I’d love to see more. Jeff Strand writes comedic YA, and I love his stuff (though, it’s probably more towards the dark humor side, as you’ve mentioned). It’s so accessible and tailored for that market, but it’s just so funny that even I love reading it.

    I think YA humor, from what I’ve seen, tends to be mixed with something else. Like humor can’t stand on its own. It’s not pushed as humor, but as [insert other genre]. Like Terry Pratchett’s books are both humor and fantasy, but a lot of times, they’re just pushed as fantasy, as if the comedy doesn’t count.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Winged Cynic says:

    I truly love humor in my books – not pure comedies admittedly, but humor is largely how I become invested in my characters, so I do find this dearth puzzling. But perhaps it’s the same issue as to why there’s insta-love or obligatory romance in almost every single YA book nowadays – the authors stereotyping their audience. They think teenagers are either only angsty (dark) or horny (romance-driven), so they believe that’s all these teens want.

    It really is sad because I adored comedies as a kid. The Wayside School series were utterly ridiculous and funny, and I still wish there are wacky fun stories like that out there for teens and adults!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I think a lot of teens would like books focused on adventure or friendship or other things besides romance! Just as I think some would like some goofy humor books, not just dark humor! Not everything has to be super serious and dramatic! And, really, a lot of teens (especially younger ones) do tend to have that kind of silliness, you know? The kind where they’re laughing with their friends in the library while an employee eyes them, annoyed, because I guess they’ve forgotten how to be silly with their friends? I think representing that in YA would make sense!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Winged Cynic says:

        I definitely wasn’t interested in romance as a teen, and it’s a huge reason why I stopped reading in high school. I thought all YA and adult books would focus on romance-based stories from now on, so I just got disillusioned. Adventure, silliness, creativity, platonic relationships, warm family dynamics…YA deserves justice!

        Like

  5. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf says:

    I’ve only seen a couple humor YA books over the last few years. They were Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, OCD, the Dude and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn. I wish the genre was more popular, considering the number of humor books that are published for children and adults. The closest we get otherwise are snarky characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. D.M. Jarrett says:

    Hi Krysta, I agree with your observation. Where is the humor? There have been plenty of post-apocalyptic, supernatural and tragic reads over the years. A bit lof light and shade helps any book. It will be interesting where the trends go next.

    Liked by 1 person

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