This week I was lucky with the theme because once I decided to keep my list in the young adult genre, I was taking down notes like crazy. It’s like I struck gold, though some of the things I mention here I already discussed a few weeks ago, but I hope nobody minds. So here is a list of ten things I wish YA had more of.
A small disclosure before I get to the list is that I clearly haven’t read all the YA books out there! So in case you can think of a lot of books with these themes, let me know in the comments, because I clearly haven’t gotten to those books yet.
1. FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
Man, I’m a sucker for a fake relationship and even though there is a lot of this theme out there in YA, I feel like none of those books have gotten it 100% right. Like there’s still room to grow and there could be this brilliant fake relationship plot written by a really good writer. Because trust me, I’ve read some very weak books that feature fake relationships, and I need something more sophisticated and put together. Also, I need a fake relationship that is going to make me ship so hard I might break.
2. SLOW BURN ROMANCE
This is a theme that I feel like is not very explored in YA because most of the time the characters who will end up together are “paired” from the beginning. And even if they aren’t paired, the reader will assume correctly beforehand which characters will get together. So yes, I would like that surprise romance, that slow burn love that begins with a friendship, and which will not only shock the characters but also the readers. I know it can be done, I just haven’t really read such a book yet.
So, here me out. The Duff is one of my favourites for one reason – it isn’t afraid to admit that our main character has sex. She’s in high school, and it is a YA novel, there is sex but it isn’t described specifically. So I would say The Duff falls somewhere above other YA novels and right below New Adult. So here’s what I’m proposing – do not shy away from writing about sex in YA. It’s no lie that teenagers have sex but it still seems so taboo in American YA literature that I’m a bit disappointed. I would love to see it explored in a positive matter more often. But I feel like contemporary YA hasn’t really stepped over that threshold, but maybe someday…
From sex to animals, that’s how I roll apparently, because just like sex, pets aren’t very common in YA in my opinion. Sure, there are books that feature pets here and there but I feel like there’s a certain purpose for them in that case. But I mean, how about a main character that has a cat, and that cat just happens to be there, and she does not meet a handsome boy at the vet’s office when her cat gets sick. (But I would love that book, does it exist?). So pets with no alternative purpose, please, because pets are important but they don’t necessarily have to be plot-important.
5. BAD BOYS WITH A SOFT SPOT
Who doesn’t love a bad boy? And who doesn’t want a bad boy with a soft spot for something. I recently read this YA novel that had a bad boy but turned out he was a complete softy and I was so disappointed! Let bad boys be bad boys, but give them something they can redeem themselves with. But keep them bad, like, there’s nothing worse than completely changing a bad boy character just because he meets a girl, it’s the worst!
6. POP CULTURE REFERENCES
I feel like more and more there are pop culture references in books but I feel like many YA are avoiding the obvious trends out there. May it be because trends change quickly and what’s popular now won’t be popular by the time the book reaches the readers, but still. Marvel has been around for a long time, One Direction could still be mentioned, I’d be happy to have more television references here and there in YA. It’s just a nice way to allow the reader to connect with the characters.
7. DIVERSITY ON THE BACKGROUND
This is sort of a difficult topic to discuss because it’s very political and subject sensitive, plus everyone already knows there should be more diversity and there has been! But what I think when I say “on the background” is that we don’t need diversity to be the main subject of the book! Have a character who is chubby, but don’t write the book where weight and body confidence are the main themes. Write a book with a gay character, but don’t make the story about acceptance and coming out, or better yet, don’t write a sad LGQBT book! Diversity is there, it has arrived, but now we just need books that have diverse characters and those characters are challenged with problems that have nothing to do with their diversity.
8. STAND ALONE FANTASY NOVELS
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a lot of stand alone books in YA and there will be more to come but fantasy stand alones? Think about it.. there aren’t many. And it’s a shame because I really don’t have enough energy nor time to commit to so many series! Honestly, write a really thick ass big stand alone YA fantasy book, and I’ll read it and I’ll be happy! Stop making everything into a series, it’s becoming tiresome, especially since most of the sequels are disappointing (with a few exceptions of course).
9. TEEN SUPERHEROES
Here me out okay, superhero novels!? Doesn’t that sound awesome? I’ve always had a soft spot for superhero movies but I can’t seem to find myself loving comic books (their hefty price tags might have something to do with it), but I did enjoy reading a superhero novel once. So imagine a superhero like Spider-man, in a YA novel form? Sure, there is Rebel Belle which was awesome, but screwed itself over with a very bad sequel, but I need more and better ones. Plus, it could be a nice alternative for fantasy novels.
Ever since I read My Lady Jane, which was like a month ago, I’ve been wondering that such books would be wonderful in a high school setting. Like, imagine a really stereo typical situation taking place, and twist it around and add some really weird plot element, and then make it hilarious throughout – it would be amazing! Parks and Recreation type high school novel.. my god, I can already imagine a whole series!
THIS SERIES IS CREATED BY THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH0
Yes for fake relationships! You’re going to need to check out Erin Watt’s upcoming When It’s Real. I think it’s my top favorite YA fake relationship story ever. 🙂
Ooooo, thank you for the recommendation!! I’ll check it out when I can. 😬
You brought up something that I never quite thought of before. There really isn’t a lot of sex in YA. That is quite unrealistic, and that was always a joke among my friends and I about Harry Potter. There’s no way Ron and Hermione waited *that* long. lol
Great list! I’d love to read a big fantasy stand-alone too. There’s just so many series to keep up with, and I always feel so far behind. I’d love to see more relationships starting out as a platonic and grow into something more. A lot of ya books are almost romances before they are fantasy or adventure because the summary spells it out that two characters are meant to be together.
Love this list! Totally agree. Especially numbers one and seven. Searching hard for a good book that fits number one and I can not wait for when I find it. Number seven has totally been a problem lately, but hopefully it’ll pass. That type of writing tends to not make for a very good book.