In my first Caitlin Considers post I outlined what I'd like to see more of in YA. So I thought an ideal second post would be what I'd like to see less of.
Note: This may end up being highly satirical and not entirely serious. You have been warned.
1. Cookie-cutter characters.
They bore me. Bland bad-boys, self-sacrificing heroines...we've been there done that so many times. I feel as though there's a database of stock characters that authors can dip into. A database that contains only 2 characters. Let's add some PERSONALITY people. Please.
2. Cliches badly used.
Note the last two words. badly. used. I'm not opposed to a love triangle, a bit of insta-love or a science class partnership. As long as it's done WELL. Look at Perfect Chemistry, they rocked the science class partnership. Look at Vampire Academy's love triangle. It's perfect. These devices are used so often because they WORK. What I hate is when they're thrown in, almost carelessly, to add a bit of 'tension' or because the author can't be bothered/doesn't have the skill to create a realistic romance/meeting/relationship. THAT'S what irks me. It's sloppy. Sloppy writing. And I do not approve.
I really couldn't think of a better title for this one...but do you know what I mean? It's especially rampant in paranormal YA. I almost feel like people are trying to one-up each other:
"So I wrote a book about vampires"
"Oh yeah? WELL *I* wrote a book about a zombie unicorn from outer space who has come to Earth with the sole purpose of finding his one true mate who, conveniently, just so happens to live here. Then they'll lead a dangerous, passion-ridden relationship for all of eternity during which he'll try to forsake his true nature which constantly creates the urge to rip her to shreds and consume her liver whilst she dies slowly and painfully."
See what I mean? I know a lot of people say "I'm sick of vampires, I want something NEW". But what I want, is something realistic. Now you're all scratching your heads like...paranormal fiction...realistic..? But you know what I mean. Something believeable. Something that actually has us half-convinced it's real. I mean come on, admit it, I know we ALL think there's a tiiiiny chance Hogwarts *actually* exists...
Now I'm not pointing any fingers, nor am I saying authors are setting out with the intention of doing this, it's just how it feels to me personally. And I don't much like it. Your plot does not need to contain ALL THE THINGS. You do not need every plot device, every current and past trend for your book to sell. A well-thought out concept coupled with relate-able characters and great writing will be fine. I promise.
4. Bad writing
I am such a snob when it comes to writing, I really am. If you've repeated a word/phrase a lot I WILL NOTICE IT. If your sentences are badly formed, or if you should've used a different tense, or if the character voice is unrealistic...I'll notice and it will annoy me. I'm not really one of those people who can overlook bad writing for the sake of the plot. I can overlook okayish writing...but bad writing NEVER. I think sometimes, people think that because they're writing for teenagers it doesn't really matter whether the writing is good or not. Let me tell you, this is NOT the case. And even if it is, people should have more self respect than that. I have stopped reading books because of bad writing, I have rolled my eyes, sighed and given bad rating because of bad writing. For me, it is inexcusable.
Most people WANT more families in YA. They're fed up of dead parents but you know what? I don't. Why? Because parents are BORING. These characters are teenagers! They don't want parental involvement. Did you tell your parents everything going on in your life when you were a teen? I didn't. I mean yeah, I never had a vampire boyfriend or a hoard of demons threatening to kill me...but I probably still wouldn't've told. When we involve parents...what's the message we're sending people reading these books? That teens can't handle their own problems? That they should go running off to an adult at the merest sign of trouble? Maybe it's just me, but I prefer books without authority figures in them. The only ones I can think of where it sorta works is Need by Carrie Jones and Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. And I suppose the Body Finder by Kimberley Derting. But still, I like to see teens solve their OWN problems AWAY FROM parental influence. I mean sure, their parents don't have to die horribly in chapter one. Look at The Wolves of Mercy Falls series...that's such a legitimate case of absent parents...Grace's parents are too wrapped up in their own lives to pay much attention to her, and that really works for the plot.
Other things I'd like to see less of:
Nicely wrapped up series/standalones forced into being series/mermaids/unrealistic teenagers/avoidance of 'tough' issues/series that NEVER end.
So there we are, my somewhat harsh run-down of what I think YA can live without. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? Do you agree but dislike my scathing tone? Let me know in the comments! (but please, no naming and shaming. I've tried hard to to not include any author/book bashing in this post, and I'd appreciate it if you could do the same in the comments)