You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been reviewing a lot of romances lately rather than YA. To be honest, I had a little bit of a burn out in YA again and really didn’t want to talk about it. However, since I feel like in order to read the genre I’m going to have to spice up my reading choices some more. I thought I’d share why I’m dissatisfied in a genre that I’ve been reading for a pretty long time.
1) I’m a binge reader:
Yeah, once I get started on something I like to finish it. And since I have a whole lot of romance backlogged I’ve been sort of focused on them. Plus, they’re sort of addicting and easy to get through. And since several of the ones I have are parts of series—you get the picture.
2) YA Has Gotten Sort of Boring:
I think I see this coming from a lot of bloggers every few years or so in the YA world. Publishers try to switch it up by focusing on new “hot” trends. But it’s not just doing it for me right now. Here are a list of the popular trends and why they are annoying me.
A) High Fantasies—this has been the BIG thing for the past two years or so. I’m thinking that the trend will be sinking soon since it is oversaturation the market and save for a few gems a lot of them are more or less the same story wrapped in a slightly different package. Most of these books involve royalty of some kind—either a bored princess who is going to be forced in a marriage or alliance she doesn’t like or a long lost princess who is living in some sort of deplorable lifestyle—with some sort of hidden power. Almost always the government or ruling group in the book’s world is corrupt and it takes a trilogy at least to bring down the motherfuckers.
Some people love these tropes, but really I am so bored with them. I think part of it, is that a lot of these books seem just sort of phoned in like Burning Glass. It was just like what can we bring to make this fantasy unique and in that case it was Russia. But honestly, using a Russian inspired world is not new or unique to YA.
B) Contemporaries—This has been my saving grace of a genre this year, but you still get a few hit and misses especially if the book is ultra moralistic or intends to teach you some big lesson. After school specials, will never be in. It wasn’t in when I was fifteen, when I was twenty-five, and it probably won’t be in if I reach the age of ninety-five. It just doesn’t work. And while I feel like an “After School Special” YA is often not intentional it happens to even the most well intended books. For example, If I Was Your Girl, a book I didn’t have that many problems with because hello, a trans MC YA book is something that is not featured very often, but it did to some degree drag down the book from having a higher rating. Is it so wrong I want a book that features diversity to not be a message book? And yes, I know that it is important for YA books to have messages about different groups of people, but sometimes I wish the lessons were a little bit less obvious and it just focused on the diverse character living through the motions of life so that people who are of the represented group of people can see that there are books about them that are fun and aren’t teaching the masses lessons that are really common sense .
Also, another issue I’ve been having with contemporaries is that they seem to have unrealistic views of what life is for a teenager in terms of voice, wealth, and love. I mean, seriously, Porsches are as commonplace as Toyotas in these books. And yeah, I get it, we read to have some version of wish fulfillment but sometimes like in The Season the MC’s have no concept of what financial woes really look. And true, there are a few books out there that do point this out, but the mass majority of book it seems has a rich MC and the community around the MC is well to do as well and they have no concept of the rest of world.
Then there’s the voice issue. I’ve seen books with too old or too young of a voice. I get it, the author is older than the narrator. It happens, but this is where a good editorial team comes in. For example, in The Season (sorry, book you seem to be getting the brunt of my wrath twice) is in that weird genre where it’s advertised as YA but the age group falls more into NA, yet the MC acts like a middle grader.
C) Retellings—I used to be all about retellings, and I wouldn’t say that they’re really a subgenre per say since a lot of these books fall into sort of an overlapping variety. Like it will be a mesh up of high fantasy, contemporary or sci-fi with a dash retelling. There are still a few retellings that I like, but again there are a lot of bad ones where they don’t even corporate the original story enough where you can be like—oh yeah, I get it’s a retelling. Pride and Prejudice or really any Jane Austen retellings are especially prone to this. It’s like the author only focuses on the hot/cold relationship that Darcy and Elizabeth have which is only one aspect of the story and forget the rest—like the pushy mother, Lydia, Bingley—yes some Pride and Prejudice retellings I’ve read even skip the Jane/Bingley relationship—if you’re not remembering that Pride and Prejudice was a story about manners more than a love story then you really don’t have any business writing a retelling. This isn’t limited to Jane Austen retellings though, unfortunately I’ve seen it even in simple fairytale retellings. The Once Upon a Crime series, while interesting really only uses their base fairytale as a marketing bit. Honestly, while I could see shades of “The Princess in the Pea” in the first book I had to squint for bits of “The Frog Prince” in the second. It just didn’t work.
D) Sci-Fi—A lot of people are speculating that this is going to be the next big thing in YA. And there have been some decent YA sci-fi books out there, but some of them lack decent world building and use weird ass names that I think the authors get when they eat some special brownies. In other words, there’s a lot of obvious jump on the sci-fi choo choo cash train like there currently is in high fantasy and its sort of starting to show.
E) Dead Trends—There are other books out there that are from dead trends like you occasionally see a YA paranormal pop up and maybe a dystopia. Unfortunately, dead trend books try to learn what killed the trend, merely thinking it’s just that something overtook the popularity of said trend and repeat the same pitfalls that made Twilight a nauseating experience.
3) I Needed a Change Up:
I thought reading a couple weeks of romances would cure my anger at some of the bullshit I’ve seen in YA books lately, but honestly I feel like I need a bigger break or at least put some of the YA books I have on backburner for a bit. I’m thinking after I read a decent YA book I might be more interested in returning to the genre than I have been. But it’s been one bad to mediocre read after the other. The good books seem less and less these days, and don’t even give me the satisfaction of reading something decent like they used too, which is sad.
4) Even Trope Heavy Romances are Fun:
Yeah, I said it.
A lot of romances are trope based, though a good author will flesh out those tropes and have fun with them. While it is true that a reader can at times feel like their reading the same story, if it’s done creatively enough it’s different. The thing is with HR’s especially, is I’ve noticed if they’re good they’re really good if not. Oh, man…
The thing is while a bad romance does bother me as a reader, I’m more inclined to handle it better than a bad YA book. I think a part of this is because the book isn’t trying to preach to me, and there is some content about when the book that was written that makes it interesting to view from a perspective about how society has changed since it was published. Of course, there are times I have to stop reading bad romance novels (cough, Midsummer Magic, cough) but having a horrible book published decades ago versus months ago makes me less inclined to hate the world and have a pudgy Beagle review it.
5) It Makes My Reading Goal Easier to Accomplish
Yeah, it’s a lot easier for me to knock out a HR than a YA book. Have no idea why since the page count is a lot thicker. But I am goal oriented and, well, I know that my schedule isn’t as heavy as it will be in the upcoming months so I want to get this goal of 100 books done.
So, those are my reasons—for now—that I’m giving why there is considerably less YA attention on this blog. It doesn’t mean I won’t get back to it. I do have a shit load of YA books on my shelf I need to get down to business reading and I have a lot of them preordered, it’s just that I am a bit burned out. I feel like a lot of the time the genre gets on a forever cyclical merry-go-round where there is one lightening rod book in a genre that makes millions and then ten thousand posers come out and eat the genre alive. And honestly, at this point I’m sort of tired of sorting out the good from the bad. At least with romances, you sort of know what you’re getting into and there’s almost always a happily ever after. Rather, than the occasional random shocker MC dies ending.