My Top 10 Pet Peeves about YA Books

I love YA. It is my favorite genre with multiple sub-genres. Yesterday, I wrote about why I love it so much, but even I know nothing is perfect. YA has its flaws. What follows are just a few of my pet peeves about YA.

Instant love

It is so corny, so overused. I mean, I get it, the insta-crush thingy, but that’s not love. I want my main characters to be a little bit more meaty, especially if they are 16 or 17 years old.  There are a few novels where it worked. FIRE IN THE WOODS, by Jennifer M. Eaton, is one of them. I liked this one because the heroine, Jess, had a crush on the hero, David, long before she met him. In fact, her crush was so intense, she couldn’t see the ‘real’ David for the longest time, (which might have something to do with the fact he’s an … oops, no, can’t tell you.  You’ll have to read it yourself. No spoilers from these fingertips.) 🙂 But for the most part, I really can’t stand the giggly, giddy girls who fall for the cute guy and call it love.  Yuck.

The guy always gets the girl or vice versa.

Please. That’s not reality.  Talk to the bevy of teens out there who are crying to their friends because “the one” dumped them for another. Yes,  I suppose readers want a happy ever after (HEA), but it’s not reality.

Da da da … the Love Triangle

Why? Why are there always 2 guys fighting over the girl or two girls fighting over the guy?  I admit, when I was in high school, there were a couple of really pretty girls that the guys were tripping over, but for the most of us, that’s not reality, either. Most of us were lucky to get one person to look at us, much less have two or more vying for our attention.  Again, I think it’s an attempt by authors to give that fantasy, that HEA, to the readers, but it’s such an overused theme in YA that I’ve grown tired of it.  Where I think the love triangle worked really well is also in the Hunger Games series. I think it works because the guys aren’t ‘love struck’ over Katniss. They see her for what she is, for her strengths and weaknesses. They don’t swoon and they don’t get jealous over each other, not like Edward and Jake in the Twilight series did. And Katniss didn’t want any part of the affection game. There wasn’t time to think about it. She loved Peeta and Gale but they weren’t the focus of her life.  I liked that we knew how everyone felt, but it wasn’t the focus of the story.

The flooding of the market with similar stories

Why? What is it when one book comes out and makes millions do others of the same genre all of a sudden swarm and land on the shelves? Remember when Twilight was big, the whole world was suddenly inundated with vampire and werewolf stories. It was as if the publishing gurus opened up the floodgates and unleashed the madness, hoping that one of their authors would find the same niche that Stephenie Meyer did. Vampire Diaries. Vampire Academy. Marked (which had its own issues).  There were so many. It’s almost like it was planned. Give me something different.

Authors trying to talk the teen talk

I hate this. Authors trying to write like they think teen characters talk. Tahereh Mafi did it well in her SHATTER ME series. Cast & Cast, the authors of MARKED, did not. Then again, that’s my opinion. I know MARKED was really popular so maybe I’m missing something, but seriously, what teen uses the word ‘poopie’?

Inconsistent plot lines

This happens in all writing, but it seems to be really prevalent in YA. I hate it when it’s summer in Chapter 3, but winter in Chapter 4, and apparently we are supposed to understand that 6 months passed somewhere. As an author, I understand how hard it is to keep up with the whens and wheres and hows, but as authors, we need to make sure we nip these things in the bud, because readers, especially YA readers, pick up on them and they don’t like inconsistencies.

The “I” factor

I used to hate books written in 1st person. I mean, it really drove me nuts. I used to think it was so self-centered. I liked this. I like him. I had this for dinner. I don’t like that girl. I’m so unloved. I, I  I. Me, me, me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that teens are very self-oriented, but come on.  Even the brightest teen knows the world doesn’t revolve around him or her, right?   Right?

Over-explanation in series books

Have you ever read a second book in a series and it recaps everything from book 1? Ugh. Stop it. I get there might be a year or more between books, but hey, if you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for book 2, then re-read book one before book 2 comes out. The author shouldn’t have to recap the storyline for the reader, and yet so many do.  Harry Potter books transitioned beautifully.  The Divergent series could have had a few lines in the beginning to transition between stories, but the jolt of hitting the ground running in books 2 and 3 actually worked well with story.  The Lunar Chronicles is another one that had amazing transitions between stories.

The lack of parents or adults

What is this all about? I understand that the teens in YA are the center focus. They have a challenge they need to overcome, but does that mean parents or adults can’t help them? So many times, I’ve read books where the adult figures are absent or don’t have significant roles in the teen’s life. That’s simply not true, and I think it’s why Harry Potter resonated so much with young people. Harry may have lost his parents, but he was surrounded by adults who cared about him, and helped him grow and achieve his end.

Cliched characters

Why are girl protags in contemporary fiction always petite, brunette, giddy,  white, who think they’re ugly or have low self-esteem?  Good grief. What was that old 80s saying? Gag me with a spoon. You want a story about someone with low self-esteem? Pick up a book about the heavy girl who never gets picked for basketball, or the buck-toothed nerdy boy with a heart of gold but no one can get past his looks.  Maybe these books are out there, but they are few and far between. We need to have a lot more diversity in YA. We need the HEA for the over-weight girl with the funny personality who winds up with the jock football player.  We need more characters who are normal find their happy endings. I think that’s one reason I like fantasy, because the characters are unique and different, and they don’t fit into a certain mold. The characters have to look past appearances and focus on the character.  I am glad to see more diversity showing up in YA, but there needs to be more.  Any authors out there up for the challenge?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my likes and dislikes about YA, and instead of nominating only 10 bloggers, I’m going to throw it up for grabs to anyone who wants to participate in the love-hate challenge. All I ask is that you link back to my blog so I can read your posts.

What is the most popular YA Genre ?

When I started my YA 101 series a month ago, I put out a request for readers, between the ages of 13 and 20 to take part in a not so scientific poll to find out what they like to read and what is their favorite genre.  The results surprised even me.  Below are the questions I asked and below that are my results.

Out of the following categories, what is your favorite genre to read:

  • Adventure (i.e.:  Island of the Blue Dolphin; Harry Potter)
  • Contemporary (i.e.:  Sarah Dessen novels; The Fault in our Stars)
  • Dystopian (i.e.: Hunger Games; Divergent)
  • Fantasy / Sci Fi (i.e.:  Eragon / I am Number Four)
  • Paranormal Romance (i.e.: Twilight, Beautiful Chaos)
  • Steampunk (i.e.:  Cinder; Leviathan)
  • Urban Fantasy (i.e.:  Percy Jackson; City of Bones)

How do you find books to read?

  • Friends
  • Library
  • Parents
  • Book club
  • Teacher

What is the most important element in a book?

  •  Characters
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Other

 How often do you read?

  • Every day.  I devour books
  • Eh, maybe 2 – 3 days a week
  • More like 2 – 3 days a month
  • Seriously?  Who has time to read?
  • Something in between

How old are you?  


49 people responded.

Ages:    20% were under the age of 17.  The other 80 % were 17 to 20.

Where did they find their reading material?  

  • 41% from their parents;
  • 18% from friends;
  • 15% from teachers;
  • 11% from libraries/bookstores;
  • 8% from book clubs;
  • 7% from media.

Frequency of reading

  • 61% – every day
  • 21% – 2 – 3 days a week
  • 12% – something in between
  • 6% – 2 – 3 days a month

Most important element of a book: (this one surprised me.  I thought it would be the other way around)

  • 71% – Characters
  • 29% – Plot

And for the big question?  Favorite Genre to read?

  • 37% – Dystopian
  • 35% – Urban Fantasy
  • 21% – Harry Potter – fantasy adventure stories
  • 5% – Fantasy
  • 2% – Contemporary Fiction (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero being specifically mentioned)

Do you agree with the results?  If you read YA, how would you answer the questions?

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