Obviously I love the Young Adult genre. I wouldn’t be reading it and focusing my blog around it if I didn’t. But YA as a genre has its flaws and there are some things that consistently appear in books that drive me mad. What are some of these things? Read on!
1. The girl always gets the guy (or vice versa).
I won’t claim I’m an expert in matters of the heart, but I do know one thing: You don’t always get the person you want. Seriously, why is love in YA books always requited? It doesn’t happen like that in real life. In real life, when you have a crush on someone, there’s a good chance they don’t feel the same way. And it sucks. Yes, fiction is supposed to be uplifting to a certain extent, but can’t it be a little more realistic?
2. The love triangle.
This sort of ties in to #1 because not only in YA does the girl always get the guy (or vice versa), but there’s usually two guys drooling after said girl. And these are supposedly average female narrators that a mostly female audience is supposed to identify with. Maybe I’m just strange, but I have never been caught up in a love triangle and I know very few people that have. Certainly they’re not usually as dramatic as they are portrayed in YA.
Now a love triangle once in a while wouldn’t bother me. Hey, it happens. But in nearly every single YA book? That’s taking things a little too far.
3. The narrator is a girl who has low self-esteem but is completely gorgeous in the classical definition of ‘beauty.’
Okay, it’s nice to increase teens’ self esteem and help them accept their bodies, whatever their size. Why do all YA narrators (the female ones at least) call themselves ugly, but from the way they’re described are completely drop-dead, sometimes unrealistically gorgeous? Or, their supposed flaws actually enhance their beauty? (I’m talking ‘flaws’ like freckles, a slightly long nose, etc.) Let’s face it: some people do not fit into the classical definition of ‘beauty.’ So why do all female YA narrators?
4. The author tries to be hip to the lingo.
Oh, stop your moaning; you know older authors try to do this when they write YA. Some authors try to incorporate current teen slang into their books, or what they think is current teen slang. However, it usually ends up completely dumbing down the book because they have no idea what teens are really like and how they think. Need an example? How about Zoey from Marked? Do you know any teenager that would even think the word, ‘poopie’?
“So I listened to the haunting Gaelic lyrics and pitch-forked up poopie.” (pg 133)
I rest my case.
5. Things all turn out in the end.
Maybe it’s because I’m a cynic or because I usually cheer for the bad guy in movies/books/operas, but really happy endings seem to be a bit overdone in YA. Everything is wrapped up perfectly, the narrator gets their love interest, the world is saved, etc. Reality check: life isn’t like that. It comes and bites you in the butt when you least expect it. Again, maybe this is just my life because it always seems to run like this:
Good: My immune system has improved. Bad: My back hates me and I’m in pain every day.
Good: My stress level is down. Bad: I suddenly get ten times as much work.
Good: My hits are up on The Mad Reviewer. Bad: Next week they’re at an all-time low.
You get what I mean. Life can suck at times, so why do things seem to always work out in YA? I’m not advocating for an operatic ending where everyone dies, but does every single little detail have to work out?
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all YA. There are some great, unique books out there for young adults, even if it can take some searching to find them. Still, there are a lot of YA books out there that seem to be written using the same formula/plot elements, over and over and over again. These are just some of my pet peeves, though. What are yours?