I read a lot of young adult novels, both traditionally published, independent and self-pubbed, and nothing can make my eyes roll faster than certain things I keep seeing in this genre. I decided to compile a list of what I'm personally tired of seeing in YA. As a writer, it's easy to fall into these traps but we also need to dare to write something different, unique, and realistic.
1) The beautiful people. I can count on my fingers the amount of stories I've read that do not feature beautiful characters. He's gorgeous, she's pretty but doesn't know it until the guy she likes tells her so. No zits, no bushy eyebrows, no one is over weight, everyone is gorgeous. Um, OK.
2) Boyfriend=HOT. A sizable portion of YA is geared towards females so of course readers want good looking guys, but all the time? Cerulean eyes, stoic chin, kissable lips, great hair. So many fictional guys are perfect. Just like in real life.
3) Bite, suck, nibble. The female lead has a nervous habit. Yes, she does and it's always biting/sucking in/nibbling on her lip (s) and to a lesser degree, twirling her hair.
4) Where are the parents? Sooo many stories feature kids with both parents dead, one parent dead, divorced, or if parents actually exist, they're workaholics and are hardly around. I have two teens and many of their friends do not have families like these at all.
5) Sweet Sixteen? Here are your powers! Yep, happy birthday, girl, now take control of your powers. If the girl doesn't have the powers, then it's the boyfriend who has the juice.
6) Insta-love. There's attraction. There's chemistry. And in YA, there's instant love. You spot him in the cafeteria, the high school parking lot, across the classroom, and boom! It is LOVE. Soul mates. Eternal. The one for me. For some people it may work like this but all of the time? Come on.
7) It's OK if he's mean. Yes, dear, it's perfectly fine if the one you like/love/crush on is incredibly mean to you, hates you, detests you, abuses you, cause deep down he's a good guy and he loves me. Plus, did I tell you he's HOT? I want to scream each time I see this particular stereotype repeated in YA, especially in paranormal. What message are we sending our girls? That it's okay for a guy to bully you as long as he's occasionally nice? He's good looking so he can verbally abuse you? He wants to kill you and that's fine because he luvs you. Um, NO.
8) Sex in YA. This is a touchy subject for many. I just want to say guys can be promiscuous and their behavior is acceptable. That's part of being a "guy." A girl who tries to act like that is labelled "slut" or worse. It's sad that we are still living with double standards. We can objectify the female for the male but she's not supposed to have desires or experience anything for more than one guy. It's not proper. It's also not realistic. I believe this is one of the main reasons the New Adult genre is becoming popular. Once out of high school, girls can have sex (oops! I said the word), but not before.
9) Stereotypical characters. The cheerleaders are blond and dumb. The jocks are hot and strong. The nerds are smart but weak. I still see these stereotypes. Can we let up on them?
10) Life after school? Don't characters have jobs? No extra-curricular activities? Don't stay late for homework help?
11) Summaries which act like spoilers. I don't like book blurbs which reveal the big secret before I even crack open the book. He's the monster. She's the princess. This is a retelling of blah blah. When I see a movie trailer which shows all of the GREAT action scenes, I figure I can wait to see it on Netflix. Why bother? Don't ruin the reading experience for readers before they've even opened the book. Keep the surprise a mystery.
This is my list for now. I'm sure I can compile another after I read the next batch of YA books on my shelf and on my ereader.