I love modern young adult fiction. I read it more now than I did when I was a young adult. I’m constantly stunned by the variety in genre, the talent of many of the writers, and the pure inventiveness of many YA books. But there are a few things that annoy me that pop up more frequently than I would like. (Books and authors will remain nameless as these are issues that appear in more than one book and often in books I really like otherwise.)
1. Too much power and authority handed over to teens. I’ve read a few too many YA books where kids are given an insane amount of authority, as if there are no adults who can lead a community, save the world, overthrow a totalitarian government or catch a criminal. I know there’s often an element wish-fulfillment in YA fiction, but one of the major things that defines being a kid/teen is powerlessness. Unless all the adults are dead (and yes, there are some books like that) having the kids in charge makes little sense.
2. The story is written in present tense. I know, I know — it’s all the rage now. Supposedly, stories written in present tense have more of a sense of immediacy, but it drives me up the wall. For some reason, I can tolerate first person present tense, but when it’s in third person, I rarely finish the book. It reminds me too much of poorly written fanfic.
3. Love triangles. I don’t like them. There, I said it. They make a female protagonist look fickle and a male protagonist look like a dog. No Team This or Team That for me. The thing I really don’t understand is, why would a writer want to intentionally piss off a huge chunk of their readership? Because that’s what happens, no matter how the story resolves.
4. Bitchy female secondary characters who exist solely to make it more difficult for the heroine to get the guy. Come on, a lot of YA is written by women, can we please get rid of this trope forever? I’ve come across some truly unpleasant secondary female characters in otherwise amazing books. That doesn’t mean they have to be nice, but at times these characters are closer to caricatures. A little bit of depth would be appreciated.
5. Throwing a romance in the story just to have one. There’s nothing better than a wonderful love story, but if it doesn’t evolve organically from the story, why have it? Friendship and familial love can carry a story just as well.
6. Not having the guts to kill off major characters if the genre demands it. If a story is in a genre where there is going to be a high body count – if it’s about war, or an apocalyptic event, or some other dangerous setting, then you gotta kill off some major characters. I read one post-apocalyptic series where not one of the protagonist’s family members dies, even though they are spread out all over the country and millions of people are wiped out from the initial event and the aftermath. That is impossible to imagine. Sure, it’s fiction, but again, there has to be some sense of reality.
Are there things that bother you about YA books? Let us know in the comments section!