Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What I wish YA novels were about

I am the worst blogger in the world. I want to state this as a fact, but I'm really hesitant to declare myself the best at anything (in this case, being the best bad blogger). So, I'll just leave it at this: I am one of the worst bloggers in the world.

Why? I never talk about anything interesting. Not even remotely interesting. So, my plan is this: I'll talk about things that are interesting (BAM. Game-changing idea right there).

The thing that I want to talk about today: What I wish YA novels were about.
I've read a lot of YA books, some on one end of the amazing spectrum, others the opposite. I love them. They are my guilty pleasure, I have no interest in reading Tolstoy; I want to read about teenagers who get really psyched on trivial things like Malibu rum and making out. Why? Because it's easy. I don't need to infer to find meaning; everything that I need to know about the characters is right on the surface, and that's just great.

There are a lot of things that I wish I could find in YA novels, however. And you're probably reading this and thinking, "'Kay, you whiny brat, then why don't you write a book with all these things in it?" Well, my answer to that: people don't really want to read about these things.

1) I wish there were more diverse, non-white characters in YA novels. What's weird about this, is that whenever I plot out a novel, my characters always end up being white--and I'm not white. And don't get me wrong--I've got nothing against white people. It's just one of those conditions of modern society that baffles me. Like, why did the cast of The Last Airbender have to be white? Why did the cast of 21 have to be white? In some sense, I'm entirely affected by this preference because none of my protagonists are ever anything but white.

And while we're on that note, why does race matter? (I'm entirely aware that this conversation cannot be properly conducted on a blog). When you read a YA novel, you NEVER hear the characters talking about how being white affects their lives. I read a wonderful novel called The Crossing by Andrew Fukuda, and one of the important components of the novel was the protagonist's relationship with another Asian teenager. White characters in YA novels seldom talk about being white--if ever.

Okay...I could talk about this for hours, but I won't.

2) I wish relationships didn't matter so much. I had boyfriends in high school and I probably thought that I really loved these people. Now that I'm in my 20s I genuinely don't believe that teenagers are capable of loving in the same way that adults are. That sounds so pretentious...I guess I read these books and these characters fall in love when they're sixteen. They're like soulmates or something. Then I think to myself, are these kids seriously going to stay in love FOREVER and have babies together? I don't even have the same friends that I did when I was 16, let alone the same boyfriend. If any teenage girls are reading this, I guarantee you: You will love many people in your lifetime. It will take you a very long time to really love someone. That was something I liked about the Hunger Games **SPOLER ALERT**: it took Katniss a REALLY long time to love Peeta. It didn't even happen until they were adults. To me, that's perfect.

And while we're on THIS note, let me just say--throw a well-placed heavy make out scene into any crappy novel, and teenage girls will look at the book in a whole new light.

3) I wish families could be whole and could love each other. This makes me sound like I subscribe to some kind of Leave it to Beaver cult, but honestly--why does it have to be a dysfunctional family that forms a strong adolescent? My parents love each other, live together, and I get along great with my siblings. I love my family. Does that mean I've never endured hardship? I recognize that there are a lot of kids who don't come from the same kind of family that I do. I know that things like that are harder than I can fathom. But why is it a prerequisite in YA novels?

4) I wish the characters would be less impressive. One of my favorite series is Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne. The main character, Nick Twisp, is SUCH a loser. He's a bad person, he gets these crazy ideas, and he screws up all the time. Then he laughs about it. I, personally, am a huge loser. I get delusions of grandeur and I fail, and I laugh about it. When I'm eating I spill food on my clothes. When I'm walking a trip. When I'm sad I cry into my pillowcase and then I get a headache. I also have bad hair days and I drool when I sleep. Why isn't this the case with YA characters? Why don't they make jokes, or get confused, or trip, or say stupid shit by accident? Why don't they sit around like normal teenagers and ask each other,

"I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?"
"I think you can in Europe."

Basically, I want my YA book characters to just be huge losers like Lizzie McGuire who can't catch a break.

Aaaaand I'm a huge hypocrite because none of these things are the contrary in any of my books. Cool. Well, maybe that's something for me to try.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I agree with a lot of the points you've made.