I love young adult literature. Truly, truly I say unto you…it’s my favorite genre. I even wrote a blog post about reasons why everyone should read YA. I love the hope and wonder, simple pleasures, and outlandish worlds. And yet…there are some common cliches that pop up that literally make me roll my eyes.
1. Love Shapes – Because let’s be honest…YA brings us far more than just love triangles. We get squares and all kinds of polygons when it comes to young love. The decision making process drags on for a thousand years and at the end…no one is really 100% happy. Sometimes it even seems that halfway through the book (or series), the author still doesn’t know which character our protagonist will end up with. The two (or more) love interests are normally completely different from each other, making you wonder how one person could possibly love them both. A lot of times, this drama could be solved simply with communication…which leads me to…
2. Miscommunication – or lack of communication whatsoever. I get the whole tension-building aspect of people’s wires being crossed, but it gets really old really quickly. At some point it becomes ridiculous and honestly ignorant. This issue can sometimes last for an ENTIRE book and it could all be solved with literally one simple conversation. “Hey, why were you mad at me? I’ve guessed and stressed about 100 different possibilities, but it’d really help if you just told me straight up.”
3. Memory Loss – For the first time, I saw this handled in a non-aggravating way when The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski came out. The main character, Kestrel, went through some major memory loss and at first, it felt like the storyline was being wiped clean so the author could rewrite some of those feelings and emotions (which is something I’ve seen before a few times in YA). It makes me nuts. We just invested all of this time and energy into the storyline you’ve delicately crafted, just for you to decide you want to push the redo button. Rutkoski’s book is the only one I’ve read where it’s actually added value to the story and enhanced where the plot was going.
4. Accepting Change – How many times have we seen in YA where a nobody character suddenly comes into a new world or life altogether and within like 2 chapters, they’re totally and completely adapted. There’s shock for about a paragraph, then we’re suddenly at the acceptance stage. I get that we want to move along to the climax of the story, but come on. Let’s be realistic here (which feels ironic, considering the unrealistic events that take place). This usually gets paired with the character quickly mastering some new skill or ability. They find out they have to protect themselves or that they have some magical power, they get trained by the most powerful or well-known person in their universe, and then KABOOM they’re pros.
5. Lack of Positive Influences – YA is really lacking in dependable friends and family. Oh sure, we get the friends who encourage our heroes towards bad things and parents who either don’t care or disappear. We’ve got those in spades. What we don’t see too terribly often, though, is a strong central unit. I’d love to see more stories with tight-knit families who are involved and are worried when the hero disappears in the middle of the night all the time. I hear all the time that YA literature can either be windows or mirrors for the readers. We either see a glimpse into a world totally unlike the one we know or we see our own lives reflected back. Those of us who have strong family units would like to see our own lives reflected back a little bit more often. And for those who don’t know what that’s like, it’d be great for them to feel how it feels.
Are there any cliches in YA literature that bug you? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy reading! – Caitlyn