What is Young Adult fantasy?

So, I’ve got more than one person telling me that the Black Mark series could fit into the Young Adult classification. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I never intended to make YA material out of this series. On the other hand, it can’t be worse than Twilight and its many clones.

Which brings me to the question: What puts a book in the Young Adult fantasy genre?

So, I go to the Interwebs and seek the collective knowledge of the English speaking world. Almost every definition of Young Adult fiction ran very fast and loose. Then there’s the offshoot category of New Adult, which is aimed at the 18-25 (or 18-30, depending on who you ask) age range.

Here I am, staring at these categorical lists and thinking, “Aren’t most books supposed to fulfill these requirements?” Other than deal with issues that are mostly unique to teenyboppers or proclaim to aim to a teenaged audience, that is. On top of that, these lists seem limited to Young Adult Literature, which is a slightly different beast than Young Adult Fantasy.

Again, I’m brought back to a question. What is the difference between Young Adult Fantasy and the rest of the Fantasy genre? Is it only the age of the protagonist, limited to under the age of 18? Is that all to it?

If that’s the only factor, then Black Mark is not a contender for the YA label. The protagonist is 17 for all of a few chapters in the beginning of the first book and he’s in his early twenties before the series ends.

Is the age of the protagonist really the only difference between YA and the rest of the genre? Or is there something more?

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