The umbrella of young adult books is one constantly expanding and evolving, for better or worse. Five years in YA really is like twenty in any other demographic. And with that territory comes the constant ebbing and flowing of certain tropes (though a few remain infamously timeless). Had I written this post two years ago I’d be bemoaning the presence of trilogies and love triangles, dystopians and stock image dust jackets. But in 2017 those four things have been (almost) entirely obliterated from the face of publishing. So now we move on to bigger fish, hoping the powers that be hear our voices, and listen! So without further ado…let’s cut to the trends!
1.Comparing every thriller to Gone Girl
I get where this trend is coming from. Sort of. Gone Girl is an amazing psychological thriller, one that managed to be appealing from both a critical perspective and an entertainment factor. But when you put a “perfect for fans of Gone Girl” blub on every cover of every story with even a sliver of resemblance to it, I’m much less inclined to pick up any of these books. And when I do give such books the benefit of the doubt, I usually find myself let down to no end (looking at you The Good Girl) from the sheer amount of hype such a comparison brings. Though I definitely think the publication of more mysteries is a good thing, let them stand on their own. I watch enough Dateline to know there’s a lot of unsolved cases out there, so would someone please write one! Oh, and while we’re at it, please come up with some more creative titles that do not involve the word “girl”. Maybe for once we can have The Dude on the Train. Thank you!
2.Emotionally manipulative contemporaries
Contemporaries are similar to the aforementioned thrillers in that for a long time they were all carbon copies of one another. And while they still sort of are, authors of the genre have tried to combat this by making their stories “THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE BOOK THAT EVER EXISTED”. All caps intended. Though I do appreciate deeper insight in my reading, I feel that all too often authors just end up jockeying to see who can give their characters the most tragic backstory. In my opinion these books often lack in actual characterization, and rely way to much on that built in pity net they’ve created. Of course, few are opposed to contuing on the age old tradition of romance in contemporaries. This is often a lethal combination that delivers little by way of a discernible plot or character growth. Maybe it’s because I prefer quiet, more introspective reads, but I’ve yet to find a story of this brand I enjoy.
3.Missing parent syndrome
Parent child bonds are some of the most meaningful connections you’ll ever have in life, not that anyone would ever guess it by the way YA authors go about incorporating parents into their books. They’re either chronically (and laughably) absent from the story, hence coining the term missing parent syndrome, or their presence is the root of all the protagonists problems. For once I would love to see a parent that aides in the growth of their child, or a strained relationship actively mended in the story. There’s not a single reader who could relate to the complete absence of parents, so please replace those instances with positive (or even not so positive) figures. People are more or less a product of the people who raised them, and the same goes for characters. If I’m really going to understand them, then I need to see the root of where everything comes from. Oh, and would Sci Fi authors
please start incorporating family dynamics into their stories? It’s not as though characters in space operas just magically incubated in a test tube. Well, maybe…
Multiple POV’s in YA are the devil. That is only a small exaggeration. Even worse? They’re everywhere. It seems like every other book I pick up is made of two or more characters narrating. The same way I used to dream about finding a standalone, I now lust over single POV books. For every one author who makes it work (Katrina Leno is a good example), there’s five more lined up eager to completely destroy their otherwise well crafted story. Make it stop! As a person who loves writing, what I think this boils down to is authors being really invested in several of their characters. Which I completely undertsand! You spend so much time falling in love with these fictional people you’ve created, and now you just want to be in their head even more. Why not give them their own perspective? Well, a couple reasons in my opinion. For one, unless a character is actively furthering the plot, there’s oftentimes not enough meat to their story to warrant pages and pages dedicated solely to them. Secondly, it just spreads the author to thin. They’re being pulled in so many different directions that nothing happens organically or in depth, and it’s just a race to get all the separate threads on paper. If you’re writing a book now, please heed my humble advice!
5.Instalove (it’ll never die!)
And all that brings me to the final, and most enduring, trend of YA: instalove. It’s been a fixture of YA since the Twilight days, and has never let up steam. In the past few months I’ve read the following books that feature it: Holding Up the Universe, The Female of the Species, Court of Fives, The Crown’s Game, The Leaving, and the list goes on. What I define as instant is a quick (usually in a week or less) acceptance of “true love”, with little to actually support the claim. In Holding Up the Universe the male love interest professes a long held secret, the two go on a date, things don’t work out, yet suddenly they can’t live without the other. To me instalove is incredibly lazy, with it’s only application being to save an author time and cut to the more “juicy” stuff faster. But personally I don’t mind a slow burn romance at all! Even better is when authors start off a potential romance, but leave it open ended to progress how the reader imagines it. However I don’t see this trend ever going away, if only because of the word limit YA authors are held so rigidly too. It seems silly, but I just can’t imagine the publishing world changing for this gripe. What are your thoughts on instalove?
What are your most hated trends in YA? Do you agree with my list? Let me know in the comments!
-Keep Calm and Read On