Symbolism is one of my favorite literary techniques. It can be as simple as the color of a cowboy's hat in a western or as complicated as Edgar Allen Poe's use of sounds.
And I wish there were more of it in YA.
The dystopian authors use symbolism a lot. It's not surprising. The characters in these books are often trying to stick it to the man. They need a symbol to unite and motivate them. This symbol may also remind them, when the going gets tough, why they're rebelling.
Other YA books don't have this kind of structural need for symbols. But some authors still do great work with it. Notably, the book I reviewed last week on my blog (How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr) uses lots of really interesting symbols.
I believe that YA should embrace symbolism. I think symbolism adds depth to a novel by giving the reader something to tease out of the story. Symbols encourage readers to analyze. This makes their experience with the writing more vibrant and real. Also, it would make it harder for people to criticize our genre if we used more of the traditional tools employed by adult fiction writers. It would be nice to hear less from those yo-yos.
What do you think? Do you think YA is using enough symbols? Too many? What are your favorite symbols? Write your answer in the box below and you could win a copy of Unforgettable by Loretta Ellsworth. She uses a very interesting symbol. Her main character is unable to forget anything. Is that why the girl he met is so unforgettable?