Five Things I Would Like to See More and Less in YA

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting this week is because I’ve been attending a forty hour mediation certification clinic (and no, before you ask I’m not being trained to fight off ghosts like Susannah Simon).  Anyway, a big part of mediation deals with strength and weaknesses and I thought that maybe this would be a good time to discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses in YA.  Let’s start with the weaknesses:

Stop.  Please.  Stop.

5)Bad Parenting: Oh God, what is the water?  Both paranormal and realistic YA suffers from horrible parenting.  I guess it’s okay in some situations when the book is about child neglect or whatever, but at least admit the parents are crappy and have a point of them being crappy.  It’s even worse in paranormal books in the genre.  Characters who often supposedly have good home lives find their parents missing when they need them most (i.e. when they’re falling in love with some paranormal douche).  Case in point, Luce Price from Lauren Kate’s Fallen.  Luce is suffering from mental illness and her parents just ship her off from boarding school to boarding school.  So okay, Dr. and Mrs. Price really didn’t have a choice about sending Luce to Sword and Cross because that was a court order after all, but they didn’t even seem to fight said court order.  As parents they fail.

4)Ultimate Bad Boys Douches: Oh God, if I have to read about another so called ultimate bad boy in YA lit I’ll puke.  Okay, I do like bad boys.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  And admitedly I like writing them, but there is a difference between a bad boy with a heart of gold and a douche.  Take for example, Travis from Beautiful Disaster.  And arguably this book isn’t YA, even though the MC is eighteen and the book has been publicized as a YA book.  But that’s besides the point.  This book contains one of the most abusive heros I have ever read.  And I’m suppose to like him.  Seriously, authors your books are marketed towards young adult: young impressionable adults.  Why don’t you show them what a healthy relationship looks like?

3) Insta Love: Another one of my big pet peeves that I already wrote an entire blog post about.  But insta love usually results in instant death for a book for me.  I like reading about developed relationships.  But YA seems to like “love at first site” relationship.  Case in point, the relationship between Bethany and Xavier in Halo.  There were already enough problems with the book itself, but things were made even worse with the instant love.

2)Love Triangles: Oh dear lord.  Yes, we get it you’re a special snowflake who not only deserves one boy falling in love with you, but two.  Honestly, I don’t mind love triangles when they are handled correctly, but God knows more often than not they’re not.  They’re usually handled tactlessly with a good bout of instant love and we all know how I feel about instant love….An example  of a toxic love triangle, Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs.  It turned what otherwise would’ve been a good book into an eye roll worthy book.

Just like the Bermuda love triangles are cursed.

1)Weak Characters: Oh, God do I even need to describe my distaste for weak ass protagonist again?  Okay, so I will. 1) They’re annoying, 2) They’re annoying, 3) They’re annoying.  Okay, to be more specific weak characters bother me because they do nothing and get everything.  And lot of the time there’s very little struggle.  Okay, so emotional turmoil you might say.  For example, Bella from the Twilight Saga struggled emotionally during New Moon.  But did she?  Really did she?  She got dumped that happens all the time.  Yes, I get it’s painful but it not really an obstacle to overcome especially in a novel.  And for that matter, it’s rather pathetic to go into a catatonic state.

Gimme More:

5) Friendships: Usually friendships are swept aside for the love story in these books.  However, I think having a well formed friendship is just as important as having a developed love story.  Usually books that have weak friendships will more likely than not have a weak love interest as well.  One friendship that I love is between Schuyler Van Alen and Oliver Hazard-Perry in Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods Series.  Oliver and Schuyler’s friendship is described almost as well (if not better) than the love story between Schuyler and Jack (though still Team Jack!)

4) Realistic Love Stories: That doesn’t mean that I’m sick of paranormal love so much as it means I want a love story that isn’t built out of instant love.  There are some books that actually do gradually build up relationships like Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly.  What is particularly great about this book is how sneaky Hand is when it comes to be building the relationships in her book.

3) Strong Characters: What happened to the strong heroine?  Seriously, the media talks all about girl power.  But you know who the archetypical YA heroine is: Bella Swan. Yep, that’s right Bella.  There are though a few strong characters out there like Suze Simon from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series.  Suze is what I think a modern feminist should be: smart, sassy, fashionable, and above all independent.

Don’t make your character a Bella, authors, make Susan B. Anthony proud and make them a Suze.

2) Diversity: Seriously, the world is diverse yet YA is not.  I have to say those few books out there that don’t have a WASP heroine are extremely enjoyable and for that matter refreshing. And  while I’m at it why are almost  all the heroines in YA American?  Okay, grant it you’ll occasionally have a British MC or a character who lives in some sort of dystopia version of America.  But for the most part, YA consists of American heroines and this annoys me.   Learning about other people’s lives, culture, and beliefs interests me.  For example, I really enjoyed Cherry Cheva’s She’s So Money.  While the character is American she is of Thai descent.  And her background affects her perspective and reactions.  And for an added bonus, the book itself is hilarious.

Seriously, there’s an entire world out there that YA has seem to forgotten.

1) Originality: Originality is something YA definitely needs more of.  There is only so much forbidden paranormal love triangle that a girl can take.  And I do think that there have been some efforts in YA recently.  For example, I am currently reading Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal which is quite a departure from other books in the genre.

Your stereotypical YA story.
Alright, those are my thoughts.  I’m interested in seeing what everyone else thinks about this and if they have their own pet peeves or wishes for YA.
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12 thoughts on “Five Things I Would Like to See More and Less in YA

  1. I've read several articles that have stated/marketed it as a Fifty Shades of Gray for the YA audience as (see BD review for more details). t I have noted it's an adult book. But I think there could be some confusion since the marketing focuses on the YA audience and the characters themselves are YA age-under 20. So I do think confusion could easily arise and it has.

  2. I love this! Love IT!!I agree with you on bad parenting, I love reading books where the parents aren't clueless place holders – like in Melina Marchetta's books, the adults in her stories are amazing and complex, I even wrote a whole blog post about it. On Douches, I think Nora Roberts said it best in Happily Ever After, "Is hard to resist a bad boy who is really a good man" but when the douche is just a boy and bad, then I have no problem resisting him, I don't even fin him appealing. And I think Insta-Love, Tringles and Weak Characters all go hand in hand, they feed of each other. —I also love the stuff you mention, I want more friendship! When I was a teenager I spent a lot more time with my friends than with any guy.

  3. Thanks. The parenting thing is a huge issue with me. I don't really care so much if they're normal parents or not it's that they have a role. You know? I mean, even if they're dysfunctional it's more realistic than just being essential the token parent character.Yep, I think Nora Roberts summed up my feelings on that too.Yes, we definitely need more friendships in YA. I really get annoyed how a lot of these friends are essentially reduced to the role of pimping out their best friend to the love interest. Seriously.

  4. That is very true. But I was contacted by Atria, and they are not trying to market it as YA they told me. They are specifically an adult branch. A youngER adult branch, like 18-25 or something, but none the less adult.

  5. I see what you mean. I feel like even though they're not directly marketing it as YA, it's being unintentionally marketed that way. The Fifty Shades YA sect thing makes me a bit weary. Honestly, I really wish there was a college lit section. It would make things so much easier. But as I understand it now YA is usually viewed as being anything from like 13/14 to 20. Shrugs… I still think even if you had a college lit section there would be book stores putting adult titles or college lit titles in the YA section. God knows, I squirm anytime I go to my local Books and Million-they have Fifty sitting right next to Twilight. I kid you not.

  6. OMG that is crazy!! If I saw a kid holding Fifty, I'd go straight to her/his mother and be like, "Do you even know what that book is about???????"And a College YA Lit section would be really cool! There are quite a few book that could be put under that section too!

  7. Unfortunatley, my bookstore is notorious for doing this sort of thing. Like all the Meg Cabot books are always placed in YA. And I think with college YA books there's an added confusion. Sigh….Disturbing story, one of my GR friends was talking about going to Costco a few weeks ago and seeing an eight year old asking their mother if they could buy Fifty. My friend told the mother about the contents of the book and then the mother gave my friend a dirty look and just started reading out loud the tampon scene to her child in the store. I freaking kid you not.

  8. And that's when I would say, "You are a disgrace to mothers!"That is the most disturbing thing ever! I would have said something too! And if the mother were to get all pretentious, I'd just laugh when she gets that reality check one day lol.

  9. I probably would've said something along those lines too. Honestly, I read Fifty when it was in fan fic form. And then I was surprised that ffnet would let something that graphic on the site-shrugs.

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