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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.