Hi guys! I’m Fiona from Escape With Writing, and I was given the topic ‘ Do you think YA books have become predictable? ‘ for Bloguest 2015. Hope you enjoy!
Young Adult Fiction. A hugely popular age-group/genre, not just enjoyed by teenagers, but some children and adults too. And within YA, there’s many popular (sub) genres- Dystopian, Science Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, Mystery- you name it, there’s a YA book written about it. YA is known for breaking boundaries and tropes, and for going in different directions than Adult Fiction. However, is the genre starting to become predictable? Here are my thoughts:
One of my favourite things about YA is the high calibre of female characters. A huge percentage of the popular YA books have a female protagonist, something that can’t be said for other genres (except for maybe chick-lit). YA has moved away from the typical female character tropes, such as the love interest, or the damsel in distress. But in doing that, I feel like there’s a regular, predictable trope in YA books- the ‘strong female character’.
This girl is badass, strong in the physical and mental sense. They’re beautiful, independent and a lot of the time have a traditionally masculine hobby or skill. Yes, this type of character has their place. I’d take one ‘strong female character’ over one hundred ‘love interests’ or ‘damsels in distress’. But surely YA can continue to evolve. Give me female characters that aren’t traditionally strong, mentally or physically. Give me new, well developed female characters who are feminine, emotional, vulnerable women who are three dimensional and kick ass in other ways.
Which brings me on to my next point- diversity. Again, there are some diverse YA novels out there, and as a whole YA is legions better than other genres, but I want more. It seems like every single popular YA I pick up has a white, straight and cis protagonist, and I’m sick of it.
Everyone is different, it’s time YA reflected that too. It makes the novels pretty predictable too.
‘Yep, there we go. Main Female Character just developed a crush on Main Male Character. Didn’t see that coming.’
‘Wow, the main character just described her blonde hair/pale skin/green eyes, never had a character that looked like that before’
– Actual Fiona Reading Commentary.
I’m not saying people need to write more books about being trans, gay or black (for example). I’m saying that we need YA books of all sub-genres to have protagonists that aren’t straight/white/cis. Just because a book isn’t about racism/homophobia/transphobia, doesn’t mean it can’t feature diverse characters. Give us something different.
And the final tier of predictability in YA- romance. I’m begging you, YA authors, stop with the insta-love, stop with the love triangles, and stop thinking that YA books need romance to be interesting. Sometimes people fall in love at first sight. (Or so I’m told). Sometimes love triangles work, and are necessary/add to the story. But not every time, cause it’s getting pretty predictable.
The main female character is introduced to a male character, and it’s obvious from the second she starts describing him that they’re going to fall in love. And then, just to add more ‘interest’ to the story, a second male is introduced and BAM! Love triangle.
Give me more stories of best friends where both parties slowly fall in love with each other, or enemies who are suddenly making out. If you want to put in a love triangle, why not make them a proper triangles. (A loves B who loves C who loves A). Change things up a little bit.
Better yet, give me some books with no (romantic) love story. I know I’ve picked up so many books with an amazing storyline but a romantic sub-plot that’s just been shoved in there for the heck of it. Romantic love isn’t the only type of love. We need more books about platonic love, or family love. Reading the same male/female romance sub-plot in nearly every YA book I pick up has gotten boring and predictable.
I love YA, don’t let this rant make you think otherwise. I just think we (as an audience) need to be continuously pushing for more. Otherwise, YA will become stagnant, and less like the exciting, boundary breaking genre we’ve all grown to love. Some authors will just be relying on the old characters and tropes, and that’s fine. I’m probably still going to read their books. But others are writing new, different and exciting novels, and that’s excellent.