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YA - Dislikes and Wishes!

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Just before our lovely authors leave us, I thought it may be an opportunity for us, as readers, to explore a) what we dislike in YA and b) what we'd like to read about.

 

With the 2nd part, there may be books already out there that someone else may know about, especially our authors, so we can point you in the right direction.. or maybe we can give our authors some new ideas. :)

 

Authors, what do you think has been overdone, and what do you think are the up and coming trends in YA?

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I'm going to start off by saying that I am now actively avoiding YA with overdone romance - as soon as I read about perfectly handsome guys, or girls who are so pretty but don't realise it, I'm put off. I really want to read about more realistic romance, with all it's ups and downs.. and I want more about relationships in general, such as friendship. :)

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I have to admit that anything that looks like a Twilight knock-off is a big turn-off for me. Bella was just too wimpy for my tastes - she was nothing without her boyfriend and felt her whole life was over if he wasn't around. I like my heroines 9and heroes!) a lot feistier than that: More Katniss than Bella!

 

I like unusual takes on age-old stories (think Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - Romeo and Juliet zombie style with a good dose of a wicked sense of humour throughout), and rebooted fairytales, but they have to be a bit punchy (Ember by Bettie Sharpe is very good!) - I don't like insipid characters and limp plots which seem to be rife in YA as more and more authors jump on the Twilight bandwagon. I suspect we'll see a lot of Hunger Games knock-offs for a while, given the popularity of that series, which will be fine so long as the characters and plots are strong.

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Sometimes I've been attracted to a cover of a book, but when I investigate it's yet another vampire romance.  I haven't read Twilight, and nor an I likely to, but the idea of vampires isn't something that appeals to me.  

 

But it's not just Twilight that this has happened with.  I think it's like anything - something is popular and then suddenly it's everywhere. 

 

And it's not just YA books - a good example of this is when Dave Pelzer's 'misery memoir' A Child Called It came out, and suddenly white-covered books about people's troubled pasts were everywhere.  And more recently, Fifty Shades of Grey has spawned lots of copycat type books, so I guess it's inevitable that this would happen.  

 

But yes, definitely vampire books are old hat as far as I'm concerned.

 

My favourite type of YA book is the 'timeslip' book - where characters can either time-travel or the swap places with someone from another time.  I've read a few now (mostly older books) and have enjoyed most of them a lot. 

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Oh yeah I second Janet's wish for timeslip  or timeswap stories. These are easily the most interesting of any YA themes.

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I agree with the desire to see less romance. I'd be delighted to read more on other types of relationships. Friendships can be complex, emotional and intense at any age and I would be intrigued to see good writers really get to grips with them, from the 'known since kindergarten' type through the making new and strong friendships in your teens.

 

I'd also add that a number of YA books get rid of the parents too often, for example Harry Potter's are dead, Katniss' (Hunger Games) Mum is absent in spirit for the most part, Clary' s (Mortal Instruments) Mum is absent in the beginning, and Jace's parents also gone, as are the parents of the female characters in Joss Stirling's Savant series. I understand that the absence enables a certain textual tension for the character that would otherwise not exist, but it feels too convenient to dismiss the families rather than actually deal with them in any meaningful way. It also implies that one is only brave / adventurous / creative etc. if one has suffered the loss of a family or parental figure, whereas surely it would be inspiring to read that those aspects of character can be found in anyone.

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Tempest by Julie Cross has some interesting time travel in it. There's also some romance, but it's not too heavy. It's not outstanding by any means, but rather enjoyable. :)

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Sometimes I've been attracted to a cover of a book, but when I investigate it's yet another vampire romance.  I haven't read Twilight, and nor an I likely to, but the idea of vampires isn't something that appeals to me.  

 

But it's not just Twilight that this has happened with.  I think it's like anything - something is popular and then suddenly it's everywhere. 

 

And it's not just YA books - a good example of this is when Dave Pelzer's 'misery memoir' A Child Called It came out, and suddenly white-covered books about people's troubled pasts were everywhere.  And more recently, Fifty Shades of Grey has spawned lots of copycat type books, so I guess it's inevitable that this would happen.  

 

But yes, definitely vampire books are old hat as far as I'm concerned.

 

My favourite type of YA book is the 'timeslip' book - where characters can either time-travel or the swap places with someone from another time.  I've read a few now (mostly older books) and have enjoyed most of them a lot. 

 

 

Oh yeah I second Janet's wish for timeslip  or timeswap stories. These are easily the most interesting of any YA themes.

 

Try the TimeRiders series by Alex Scarrow - I've read the first few of those and they're pretty good! :)

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I agree with the the whole romance thing, if it's a shoehorn. Too often, authors are almost told that they need a love-triangle in a plot, to make it appeal. Chrissy makes a good point that there are other types of relationship to explore and friendship between boys is something I've tried to take a look at. Ironically, the thrust of my book is about a boy trying to make a girl 'like' him, but it's the interaction between him and his friends that's the foundation for everything he does, right or wrong. Personally, I don't like the whole thing with hot guys and hot girls, which is why I went for a geek. I also don't like the whole 'it turns out OK in the end' thing because, in my experience, it rarely does - and I've tried to reflect that.

 

Love might be the topic that most songs are written about but in a vehicle that gives you so much more room to manoeuvre, I think there are other avenues to have a march down. 

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Just before our lovely authors leave us, I thought it may be an opportunity for us, as readers, to explore a) what we dislike in YA and b) what we'd like to read about.

 

With the 2nd part, there may be books already out there that someone else may know about, especially our authors, so we can point you in the right direction.. or maybe we can give our authors some new ideas. :)

 

Authors, what do you think has been overdone, and what do you think are the up and coming trends in YA?

 

Speaking as an author, I have to agree with a lot of what people are saying here in terms of what's been overdone, particularly romance. I don't think it's romance in and of itself that's the problem, necessarily, but the type of romance--lots of Twilight-style, melodramatic, love-of-my-life kind of stuff. I'd like to see a trend towards other types of relationships, too, both friendships or romance that doesn't fit the super-dramatic Twilight mode.

 

I also think science fiction is an up and coming trend, since we've been doing fantasy for awhile and interest tends to swing back and forth between science fiction and fantasy. Personally, I hope space opera gets big: lots of exciting space battles and new planets and interstellar adventure! But I suppose the next big trend will likely be dictated by the next book that gets popular in the same way that Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games did. It'll be interesting to see what it is! 

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I tried reading Looking For Alaska by John Green this month as it had tonnes of great reviews saying it is their favourite book ever etc. but I thought it was awful, couldn't finish it. The characters are inherently unlike-able, the prose is simple and boring and the story is incredibly dull.

 

I had to double check that I had downloaded the correct book as it is nothing like the reviews.

 

Has anyone else read this?

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I thought Looking for Alaska was pretty damn good. It certainly wasn't "dull" and the prose definitely wasn't "simple", whatever that means...

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Authors, what do you think has been overdone, and what do you think are the up and coming trends in YA?

 

 

Overdone would be anything featuring a love triangle - the YA Bluewater reading group made that abundantly clear when I visited them in September. I think vampires are done like dinner as well as shape-shifting werethings and the girls who love them. I'm starting to think that "disease of the week" stories fueled by the success of The Fault in our Stars are done. Dystopian stuff is done. Zombie stuff isn't done - everyone loves a good story with zombies. Post-apocalyptic is far from done, I think. Contemporary is making a big splash this year. I think bona-fide mystery stories could become the next big deal. Horror is growing in popularity ... and ... I think that urban fantasy is actually losing its luster in YA due to the fact that it has been co-opted by paranormal romance.

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Try the TimeRiders series by Alex Scarrow - I've read the first few of those and they're pretty good! :)

 Thanks Kell !

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I think more realistic stories. YA often makes it seem like being a young adult is perfect and beautiful. In reality, people in that age group get their heart broken, have the pressure of drinking and drugs, and the ending isn't always happy. 

 

The art of a good tragedy needs to return. Everything is always "happily ever after" these days. I appreciate a good tragedy every once and awhile. 

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I think more realistic stories. YA often makes it seem like being a young adult is perfect and beautiful. In reality, people in that age group get their heart broken, have the pressure of drinking and drugs, and the ending isn't always happy.

...I don't know what YA you're reading but the YA I read is pretty tough sometimes...

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...I don't know what YA you're reading but the YA I read is pretty tough sometimes...

Maybe I'm not reading the right stuff, but what I read has a conflict, but it is always resolved and everyone lives happily ever after. Of course there is going to be a conflict and problems, it is a book, but I don't like happy endings all the time. All I've read is happy endings. 

 

If you could direct me towards books that are not like that I would appreciate it. Also I admit that although I am a young adult, I have not very much YA genre books in awhile. So maybe my opinion is based purely on the few that I have read. 

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hi Chrissy, 

 

I am currently reading the Mortal Instruments books and I honestly love it. However, I didn't notice that the parents were in fact absent most of the time. Now that you have mentioned it, it may seem like a person is only adventurous if he has suffered some absence in the family. However, what if it is just a portrayal of real life? I mean, we know how young adults are--wanting to act this and that when the parents aren't looking. On the other hand, young adults/readers shouldn't always see it this way. We still need to act accordingly whether or not our parents or guardians are with us. 

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Maybe I'm not reading the right stuff, but what I read has a conflict, but it is always resolved and everyone lives happily ever after. Of course there is going to be a conflict and problems, it is a book, but I don't like happy endings all the time. All I've read is happy endings.

Okay. Well, I think for a start (and I hear many authors say this) that young adult books need some sort of hopeful ending. Not necessarily a happy ending, but one that isn't completely bleak. I'm not sure if that's what you're referring to. If not, I can only assume you're reading the "wrong" stuff- have you tried TFIOS?

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Hi, BSchultz19. Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? Not necessarily YA but absolutely terrific. For recent YA without pat endings... How about pretty much anything by Tim Bowler? I love River Boy and Starseeker especially. Those are contemporary with a bit of supernatural flair. Kristen Cashore's Fire is great for fantasy. CJ Daugherty writes contemporary, boarding school adventures but they're by no means 'happily ever after'. Hope it's OK to mention my book, The Bone Dragon, for a contemporary psychological thriller. Berlie Doherty is really interested for complex, nuanced stories of the slower but richer variety: mostly shades of historical fiction (including recent history). Oh, and Tanya Byrne's wonderful Heart-Shaped Bruise is a brilliant contemp. crime novel. In America there's much more of a tendency for upbeat endings but, above all, American publishers rarely publish morally ambiguous endings, which are my favourite type. Things that make you question what you think is right and wrong, rather than telling you. That's where British YA is really coming into its own.

 

As for my likes and dislikes... No to zombies and vampires, yes to fantasy beasties... No to post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories because basically I'm a happy person and want to believe the future is brighter than the past. Yes to historical fiction, even when it's far from upbeat (it's OK for the past to be depressing if we've moved forward). I like romance and even love triangles - to a point. My big issue with romance in YA is that people are rarely sensible about love. Sometimes romance and clear thinking go together rather well. It's certainly not a good message when most books seem to say that romance is all about being blind and assuming that people are as nice as they look. I like to read about people of all ages who take responsibility for their lives and their choices - whatever those happen to be. :)

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Okay. Well, I think for a start (and I hear many authors say this) that young adult books need some sort of hopeful ending. Not necessarily a happy ending, but one that isn't completely bleak. I'm not sure if that's what you're referring to. If not, I can only assume you're reading the "wrong" stuff- have you tried TFIOS?

 

Well if authors are saying that, they're wrong. I enjoy a happy or hopeful ending, but I like books that end tragically as well. It makes reading less predictable. I'm only 17 years old, so I'm a "young adult" and I don't need a hopeful ending. And like I said, I don't read a lot of YA, but what I have read has been predictable. I find myself three or four chapters in and already correctly guessing the end of the story. 

 

Hi, BSchultz19. Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? Not necessarily YA but absolutely terrific. For recent YA without pat endings... How about pretty much anything by Tim Bowler? I love River Boy and Starseeker especially. Those are contemporary with a bit of supernatural flair. Kristen Cashore's Fire is great for fantasy. CJ Daugherty writes contemporary, boarding school adventures but they're by no means 'happily ever after'. Hope it's OK to mention my book, The Bone Dragon, for a contemporary psychological thriller. Berlie Doherty is really interested for complex, nuanced stories of the slower but richer variety: mostly shades of historical fiction (including recent history). Oh, and Tanya Byrne's wonderful Heart-Shaped Bruise is a brilliant contemp. crime novel. In America there's much more of a tendency for upbeat endings but, above all, American publishers rarely publish morally ambiguous endings, which are my favourite type. Things that make you question what you think is right and wrong, rather than telling you. That's where British YA is really coming into its own.

 

As for my likes and dislikes... No to zombies and vampires, yes to fantasy beasties... No to post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories because basically I'm a happy person and want to believe the future is brighter than the past. Yes to historical fiction, even when it's far from upbeat (it's OK for the past to be depressing if we've moved forward). I like romance and even love triangles - to a point. My big issue with romance in YA is that people are rarely sensible about love. Sometimes romance and clear thinking go together rather well. It's certainly not a good message when most books seem to say that romance is all about being blind and assuming that people are as nice as they look. I like to read about people of all ages who take responsibility for their lives and their choices - whatever those happen to be. :)

Thank you! I will definitely consider some of those books if I get a chance. 

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Well if authors are saying that, they're wrong. I enjoy a happy or hopeful ending, but I like books that end tragically as well. It makes reading less predictable. I'm only 17 years old, so I'm a "young adult" and I don't need a hopeful ending. And like I said, I don't read a lot of YA, but what I have read has been predictable. I find myself three or four chapters in and already correctly guessing the end of the story.

Tragedies aren'tr eally covered that much, and I do agree with you that they should be, to a certain extent. Clearly reading the wrong books ;)

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