Wednesday, August 10, 2011

YA Pet Peeves

Today, on Write Away Wednesday, a few of the things that bug me in YA novels.


There's nothing wrong with a teen whose favourite book is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, but I feel like it's all too prevalent in YA novels. I mean, I was legendary as a child for the number of books I read, and my faves were all contemporary stuff like Encyclopedia Brown and The Baby-Sitters Club (so not even kidding). I went to the top academic school on the island, and I can't think of anyone who's favourite book was a classic. Even my bff- who loves a bunch of literary stuff and all things Tolkien these days- was reading bodice-rippers in the teen years.

I kind of feel like making a teenager do anything = making them hate it. There are a few books that I read in school that meant nothing to me then, but I'm all into the deeper meaning now. There are so many great YA books these days (YA didn't exist as a category in my day) that I can't imagine such a large percentage of teens overlooking TWILIGHT and HARRY POTTER and THE HUNGER GAMES and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and picking a 200 year old book as their fave. Also, I wonder how many teens HAVE favourite books, between teenage indecision and being so busy with school and a social life that there's not that much time to read.


It bugs me whan a main character loves writing, especially where it's not important to the plot or the mechanics of the story. Once again, stories about writers are overdone, and not just in YA. There are so many other hobbies they can have which will colour them in all sorts of interesting ways. Oh, and photography is also out, unless the plot is about them taking a picture that starts a scandal or something.


I'm sorry but I happen not to know any teens whose favourite band is The Beatles, or who only listen to Elton John or Michael Jackson or Sade. As a teen I was really into all of those, but I was a weird kid. And none of them was my favourite group either.

One exception to this rule is the "rebel without a cause" kid who purposely picks some obscure hard rock band from the 60's to love. Or something like that.


Is it just me, or does it feel like 90% of the time a girl likes a boy in YA, he likes her back? Never is it: girl likes boy, boy has never thought of girl before, but she's cool, and he starts hanging out with her. Seriously, I can not think of a single time that happened. And I feel like I saw that a lot in my teen life. Heck, I feel like I see it a lot now.


I am so tired of love interests that everyone agrees is the hottest guy/girl in the school. There's about a zillion things wrong with the implied message there, but I'm not even going to touch that. I'm more interested in the fact that I don't think most people go for the stereotypically hottest guy in the room. We all have our preferences, and often we find people sexy and our friends are like, "he's aiight," or even, "ew!" On top of that, I don't know if there is such a thing as "The Sexiest Guy." If you lined up Brad Pitt, Willy Monfret, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Taylor Lautner and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and told a bunch of teenage girls to run screaming to the sexiest one, they wouldn't all go to one guy.

I can find something sexy in 99.9% of guys, even if it's the tiniest thing. And my characters are like that too. The last MS I completed, the MC's best friend constantly laughed at her because the guy she was cruching on was a "broomstick". But the MC thought that was sexy.

Are there any trends in YA novels that really drive you up a wall? How do you feel about the ones I mentioned?


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

That's such a comprehensive list that I can't think of another. Seems like most of those problems come from taking the easy way, not really delving into who the character is and developing someone different from the author or from stereotypes.

Alyssa said...

Hmm... I am a teen, so these YA pet peeves are interesting... I have to say I agree with you about the classics thing. If there is a character in a book that likes reading (and that's probably the only kind of character where the author will mention the MC's favourite book) then they will probably be constantly reading, discovering and loving new books as their favourites.

Even still, I find that when authors mention other books in their books... that it isn't really necessary anyway.

Autumn said...

Two more:

Love many real people do you know involved in a love triangle? I mean sure two people might be dating and some third person might have a crush on one of them, but a full on love triangle? Never happens!

Absent parents. How many teenagers have completely free reign like teens in YA seem to have? They never seem to be answerable to their parents. They never seem to have curfews or chores or mountains of homework or siblings to babysit, etc.

NiaRaie said...

Oh yes, I am very tired of A)the MC or BFF being an aspiring photographer and B) the retro music thing. There's an author who annoys me b/c in every single book her characters like retro music. None of the characters in any book ever like current artists like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, or Maroon 5, but they talk about current movie stars. Ugh.

Sophia said...

So agreed on the first two, despite one of my ideas way on the backburner having a girl who writes creatively. I think it must be one of those writers writing what they know things-- we grew up reading and writing, so of course our heroes/heroines will too!

Marsha Sigman said...

I agree with a lot of this and I am guilty of creating characters with personality flaws but few physical ones. I have to work on that. I do not let my own personal older preferences creep into my writing. Or I try not to.

But the absent parent thing another person commented on is increasingly realistic. Maybe not the way it's portrayed in fiction but I know quite a few teens who are pretty much on their own nowadays.

Claire Dawn said...

Thanks for the replies. I think the problem is the desire/reflex to put ourselves into the story. Our fave music, books, dream guy...

@Autumn, I feel you on the love triangles. I recently saw a great one- in a distopian where a girl is beginning to discover that all she learned growing up might not be so true or so right. And the choice between the two guys is really the choice between two worlds. One path will be easy and one won't. Very red pill, blue pill.

@Gracie, thanks for your comment. I'm always happy to get feedback from teens. :)

As for absent parents, I didn't mention it here because I've seen it mentioned so many times before, and because recently I've been reading books with parents present :)

Sidrah said...

Love triangles (nice guy and bad guy thingy) kind of annoys me.. And there's always hot cheerleader and a nice weirdo.

When I was a teenager my favorite author were Sydney Sheldon and Marian Keyes :P and of course I loved (still do) Harry Potter.

I used to read sweet valley twin and Babysitter club and the type, too, but lost interest.

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