Okay, maybe hate is a bit of a strong word.
There is no denying that young adult fiction is pretty huge right now. It seems like there are new books coming out every day that tackle the always-lovely subjects of first loves, teenage dystopian heroes, friendship drama, and all of those other exciting life events (real or imagined) that happen when you’re a young adult yourself. And these books aren’t just for teens anymore. Adults make up a huge portion of the people who are buying and reading these books.
This post is the other side of a post I made for a Top Ten Tuesday a little while back: Why I Love Young Adult Fiction. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I kept coming back to the idea that I had said so many great things, but it had been an entirely one-sided argument.
While I do love a lot of young adult fiction, there are also a lot of things about it that just drive me crazy. So I wanted to give you a list that argues the other side – what I dislike about young adult fiction.
As with the other post, there are exceptions to every one of these, because every book and every trope within every book is different. But as a general, these are a few things I don’t like about young adult books.
1. Love triangles.
I’m not opposed to love triangles as a general. I’m opposed to the fact that there is no way that love triangles are as common as young adult novels would have you believe. And the fact that when they do happen in real life, it’s not as smooth as it happens in books, and the girl or guy doesn’t always pick just one of their love interests. Sometimes they secretly date both. Sometimes they don’t date either. I think there is more to a love triangle, when they do occur, than these books make out.
2. On that same note, unrealistic romances.
In this category: insta-love, lifelong relationships, falling deeply and madly in love at fifteen.
Insta-love maybe just annoys me because I do not believe in love at first sight. Sure, you can be totally lusting for someone when you first lay your eyes on them, but that’s not love. That’s your neither regions talking. Love comes later.
For the latter two, it’s a matter of being realistic, because most books do strive to be realistic to our western culture. Chances are, the person you love at fifteen will not be the person you love at thirty. Does it happen? Sure, I know a couple who are in their 60s and have been together since grade seven. Is it likely to happen? No. Again, you’re thinking with your pants, and you still have a lot of growing up to do.
(I sound like such an old person now…)
3. Also on that note, why is there always romance?
I know having meaningful relationships is important to a happy and successful life, and are therefore meaningful to the stories written about people. But they don’t necessarily have to be romantic relationships. I would love to see more books where friendship and family is the main theme, because those relationships may be even more important than a romantic one.
4. Our Favourite Little Special Snowflake
This one is just getting old. Protagonist has special ability and has to use it to save the entire world. Can we please have more protagonists who suck at things but work really hard to save the world anyway?
5. How everyone jumps on the bandwagon.
Remember how Twilight got popular and suddenly there were a million books about vampires? Or when the Hunger Games got popular and we went all dystopian for a while? I know that writing what is popular is fun, and probably makes it easier to get a larger reader-base. But wading through the mass piles of the same, old stuff you’ve read a hundred times to find the few that are actually fantastic sucks. Write what you love, not what’s popular right now.
6. The predictable happy endings.
Maybe this is just a weird thing I have, but I don’t like when stories are completely wrapped up in the end. It’s not that I want ambiguity, but just acknowledgement of the fact that the character’s life doesn’t end when the book does. The main focus of the novel should be figured out, but maybe that side drama with a friend extends beyond the story. Every issue in my life are not resolved in the same short period, and it would be nice if that happened more in books.
7. The drop dead gorgeous girl who turns heads everywhere she goes, but can’t see how beautiful/wonderful/desired she is.
I know, it’s more fun to imagine beautiful people. But some people have bad hair, or are fat, or have acne, or something. C’est la vie.
In terms of the second part of that, yes, some gorgeous people don’t realize how beautiful they are. But many do, even if they don’t put a lot of value on that. Plus, if people are falling over you in love or lust, you probably have noticed.
8. Where the heck are these kids’ parents???
I could only dream of the sort of freedom YA characters have when I was a teenager. I didn’t know many people who were allowed to come and go as they chose, with enough money to do what they wanted, and no curfew to speak of. And those who did have those things were not the better for it.
9. The characters that are nothing more than a stereotype.
As someone who has studied psychology and works in social settings, I know stereotypes are based in truth. But there is so much more to a person than their stereotype. A person can be a jock and a jerk, but can also love ballet, cooking, and reading mystery novels. A few more details about characters in these books would make a world of difference.
10. Where are all the guys?
It seems like YA in overrun with female writers and female protagonists. Of the 30 YA books on my shelf now, 9 are by male authors and 8 feature male protagonists. I know there’s a matter of who wants to write and what they’re interested in writing and what have you. But I think it would be nice to have a split closer to 50/50.
Okay, that’s the end of my rant. As I’ve said, these are not things that are an issue 100% of the time. Sometimes they’re well done and have good reasoning. But they are things that come up frequently in this particular age range, and they get under my nerves sometimes.
What annoys you most about young adult books? Let me know in the comments below!