Come on. We all have our own personal pet peeves when it comes to reading a book. It could be the plot, the characters, maybe the writing. In the past few years YA literature has blown up amongst people of all ages and the demand for it has really grown. While I don’t actually hate YA (99% of the books I read are YA) there are a few things that definitely tick me off when I’m in the midst of a book, and it seems that more and more writers are falling into these traps.
1. Mary Sue – She’s strong, she’s independent and she’s impossibly gorgeous. Who is this girl? Mary Sue of course.
I’m going to have to start with the biggie. Mary Sues have plagued our books for years but it appears they are especially prevalent in YA. She’s perfection. This girl literally has no real flaws. Not like real people anyway, and the ones she does have somehow enhance her character. Like a quirky eye colour or being a ‘perfectionist’ (flaw? Come on).
Mary is intelligent, kind and beautiful but she has a dark secret. She bites her nails.
This is an example (albeit a ridiculous one) of a non-flaw. If it has no hindrance on her as a character in the story, it’s not a flaw. Make her real. Maybe she’s bad with weaponry, not traditionally beautiful or not very personable, just anything interesting. Your classic Mary Sue can save the world single-handedly and get the guy in the end. The same applies to guys too so watch out for those Gary Stus.
2. Instalove – Love at first sight?
From the moment they laid eyes on each other they knew it was meant to be.
Sound familiar? I find it hard to believe all these teens can find their perfect match so easily. There’s no development of the relationship, it’s literally instantaneous love. Instalove. It was popular in Romeo and Juliet, but we all know how that ended. For some reason in YA, everything always works out in the end. I’m all for a little bit of romance but make it realistic.
3. Brooding boys – He’s so mysterious and tortured.
When I read about a male love interest or male character in general, it would be nice for him to have a personality and not just be ‘brooding’. It just seems lazy to have every guy be quiet and ‘deep in thought’. Can we have a little more?
Brooding Billy has had a lot on his mind recently. What with the police on his tail and all. On a plus note, Mary Sue has finally decided to go out with him now that he’s interesting and stuff.
But whatever problem this brooding boy may present to our lead can be overlooked as long as he’s got those trademark killer abs.
4. Sneaky romance ‘sub-plots’ and love triangles – Wasn’t this a sci-fi?
At some point in your YA novel (no genre excluded) you will probably encounter romance but it’s okay because it’s just a sub plot and won’t detract from the main story. These are the lies I used to tell myself. Recently a lot of romance sub-plots have been hijacking the main plot and becoming the whole story. Often this happens just about when a love triangle has been introduced.
I’m so tired of love triangles. I can see that writers want to make the relationships more interesting by putting the couple through hardships and introducing a third character but can we not do it another way?
Mary has a tough decision on her hands. Should she pick Brooding Billy and stay loyal to her first love or should she go for Mysterious Mark who’s just as tortured and fascinating as Billy. Decisions, decisions.
5. Copy Cats – Read one, read ‘em all.
When one writer gets successful with a particular niche, bookshops quickly become saturated with books that are carbon copies of each other. E.g. Twilight in 2005. After that everywhere I looked I saw vampires. Not fun, especially if you weren’t a vampire/werewolf fan because for the most part you were out of luck if you were looking for non-vamp book.
The most recent copycat trend is Dystopia. From what I remember, since The Hunger Games, Dystopian fiction has blown up the YA market. Almost every book I read was dystopian fiction and for a while I wasn’t complaining but unfortunately I’m a bit tired of having all my books set in a post-apocalyptic future. It’s nice to have a bit of variety.
6. Dystopia – The end is nigh.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m tired of dystopian fiction. There’s only so much I can take before it all starts to sound the same.
Mary is a tough chick. Like many she’s suffered a lot at the hands of the government. But today isn’t like any ordinary day because Mary has a plan. With a Trident on her left and Brooding Billy on her right - she ready to take them down. Once and for all.
Wasteland. Check. Oppressive government regime. Check. Protagonist ready to (unwittingly) overthrow the leader. Check. I’ll admit they can be fun to read but it would be nice for the story to be switched up a bit. Freshened up with something unique.
Well that was just a penny for my thoughts anyway. What are your dislikes (or likes) about YA fiction?