What I Want to See More of in YA Fiction

A variety of trends have been making the rounds in young adult fiction, some that I enjoy, some I don’t, and some I feel neutral about or that I feel I have not seen done to its full potential yet. Here are some things (some are current trends, some are not) that I would like to see more often in young adult fiction…

Slowly-Building Romances

I think Cinder, The Hunger Games, and For Darkness Shows the Stars all feature good examples of this. It isn’t insta-love, or even, “Oh hi, one day you’re my friend and the next day I might love you because you kissed me and it felt good!” (I’m looking at you The Testing!), but it starts off small and builds over time, naturally.

HG-love

True Dystopia

The books 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The movies Equilibrium and V for Vendetta. Episodes of The Twilight Zone such as “The Obsolete Man” and “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” What do they all have in common? They’re true dystopias!

dystopia

I think a lot of “dystopias” in young adult fiction have an element of this, with a weird or oppressive government, but a lot of times the danger doesn’t feel all that real, especially if it only takes a couple  of kids to overthrow the government. Or if the whole plot of the book is conveniently about how oppressive the government is when it comes to marrying who you want, and then you proceed to fall in love with someone that you’re not supposed to. I feel you and all but please… there are bigger problems  in this world. I want to see more daring, more dangerous dystopias.

More Science Fiction Elements

More genetic engineering, more clones, more space! I’m a developing geek, so I want more science fictiony things that aren’t quite the full-blown deal. However, I’m picky about it being so light it seems pointless, like in Across the UniverseFor Darkness Shows the Stars, however, handled it fantastically.

Unique Story Ideas

uniqueWhat do these two have in common? Nothing really, except they both have my love for their unique stories, one as a book and the other as a movie. Since we’re talking YA fiction though, I’ll focus on The Book Thief. It’s a WWII story, not uncommon in of itself. But the narrator is Death, which sets the entire tone for how we see the story of a little girl named Liesel who steals books. Her story may not be entirely unique in all that she experiences during war, but the point of view we are given of her story is. And I love that I have never read a book like it before or since.

Retellings

retellings

Does this sound like a contradiction to my previous point? Yes. Do I care? No. While I love a super unique story, I also love seeing new spins on old tales. My two favorite retellings that I have read this year are For Darkness Shows the Stars, based on Persuasion but is set in a future world where genetic engineering has gone wrong, and Cinder, a retelling of Cinderella where our MC is a cyborg and has bigger problems than missing her glass slipper! It’s fun to see an updated or futuristic twist on a familiar story, because it feels familiar and new all at once – the best of both worlds!  

Bromance

So many young adult books focus on a girl, and the guys in her life are typically feuding suitors. Why can’t the guys be friends? Why isn’t there more focus on them? Does everything have to be about romance? How about some bromance?!

The best bromance ever; from Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Stand-Alone Books

Series have their place, and I certainly appreciate the arcs they can provide, but it’s nice to get the entire story in one book every so often. The Book Thief is the only YA fiction book I have read this year that was a stand-alone, but The Scorpio Races and a few others are on my TBR!

standalone

What do you want to see more of in young adult fiction? 

28 thoughts on “What I Want to See More of in YA Fiction

  1. YES YES YES to everything in this post!! I feel the same way!! Especially the slowly building romances, I feel like they’re so much more believable and I tend to get more invested in those versus the Instalove kind. (Which really annoy me…) I also feel like with a slow romance I end up getting a more satisfied, fulfilled feeling when they can FINALLY be together, haha. Oh, and I completely agree with your thoughts on YA dystopias feeling less authentic than true dystopias. I think a big reason why the danger factor is reduced is because there often ends up being way too much focus on romance even during a moment when they really should be paying attention to survival instead of their hormones. ><

    Great post, Amy!!😀

    • Seriously, I know teenagers have hormones but come on, people. Pull yourself together; your life is in danger! I think I would consider The Hunger Games a pretty true dystopia though, even with the romantic subplot.

  2. GREAT post, Amy! I agree with so much of this. Probably my favorite slow-building romance has been the one in Seraphina. If you haven’t read that one, I recommend it!

    And YES to more standalone! I’m really starting to get disappointed every time I find out a book that ended well is going to be a series, lol.

    I think it’s hilarious that you’re using a picture of O’Brien and Dr. Bashir for the bromance category! Maybe I’m just not deep enough into DS9 yet? Well, I saw one episode where they sort of bonded, but so far it seems like O’Brien pretty much hates Bashir.

    • Seraphina is on my list of things to possibly read… there are way more books than I have time for, sadly, but I have heard good things about it.

      I wondered if you were going to comment on O’Brien and Bashir. Yes, that episode where they kind of bond is the beginning, and it becomes more and more of a thing throughout the season. But yes, O’Brien does start off hating Bashir!

  3. I’m with you with YA dystopias. I think they just scratch the surface, they hardly go into the really bad stuff that goes on. And it’s funny how a few of them have kids that only realise the oppressiveness because they’re not free to love…more specifically love the boy they want. What about you other needs and rights as a person?

  4. I agree with a lot of these, though my favorites are slow-building romances (I’d rather see the romance grow and develop, insta-love annoys me so much) and stand-alone books. I know that “the next big thing” series get a lot of attention, but I really love stand-alone books!🙂 Great post!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  5. Yes, yes! I agree so much with all of these. Granted I can’t have *too* much of an opinion as I haven’t read many YA books… but just reading blurbs looking for books to find, too many of them sound the same. True dystopia completely fascinates me, as does anything post-apocalyptic or having to do with space, or androids/cyborgs. I really do wish there were more science fiction options available. I am not too keen on the alternate realities or time travel ones that seem to be raging through plots right now, even though I haven’t read them. I’ve never had much interest in those.

    • Yeah, I have mixed feelings about alternate reality stories in general, so I don’t generally flock to those stories either. The same with time travel, really. The smallest things can change so much in either case, and they get treated casually so many times. I try not to think about it when I watch the 2009 Star Trek movie…

  6. You took all the words out of my mouth, these are all my favorite things in YA literature I love so much. I always love a good retelling, and if a book has a unique plot, it automatically gets like 100 bonus points from me, even if the rest is bad. It is just so hard to come up with unique ideas, I really do appreciate them when they pop up.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  7. Woohoo I agree with your choices!😀 I love some of the retellings I’ve come across (Of Beast And Beauty is the book I’m currently looking forward to. Join me in my anxiety. HAHA!) I also adored The Scorpio Races! It’s not exactly as good as The Raven Boys, but it was great, nonetheless🙂 I’ve never read any Jennifer Smith though:/ Maybe I should😀 And insta-love is the one thing about romance that I can’t stand no matter what. It just really ruins it for me😦 *sigh* Great discussion Amy!!🙂

    • I haven’t read Jennifer Smith yet either, but I won The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight in a giveaway, so it’s on my TBR pile, even if it does involve “love at first sight,” from my understanding from others’ reviews it’s not like they expect it to last forever when they just met and they aren’t going to rearrange their entire lives around this one meeting or anything like that. I’m hoping it’ll just be fun and light, which will be a change of pace from what I usually read.🙂

      • I avoided The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight for a while b/c I didn’t want to read an insta-romance even though the cover always caught my eye. I finally gave in after reading great reviews of it, and yes there is a romance, but the book is really more about the relationship between Hadley and her dad, which was a nice surprise. I really enjoyed it and will be posting a full review tomorrow on my blog. I’m with you on standalones though. I’m so tired of getting caught up in a series that more likely than not is three or four more books – especially if the first book ended in a pretty good place. I am convinced Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater would have been an excellent standalone. Linger and Forever really weakened the series in my opinion. Happy reading!

  8. Great post! I agree on everything you pointed out here, especially unique ideas. It seems like genres are recycled, new characters are put into similar situations, and it gets tiring to read the a different variation of the same book over and over again. All my favourite books have that extremely unique and unexpected element.

    • It’s so refreshing when there’s something unexpected and just not cliche in what you’re reading! I know it’s easier to recycle the same old story, but it’s certainly not as interesting!

  9. Yay for bromance and unique stories😀 Those definitely need to appear more in YA. It’s actually a little overwhelming, thinking about all the things I want to see in the YA genre, because there are just SO many different things. But right now, since there is this whole love triangle posts craze going on, I am zoning in on my want for more creatively written love triangles😛

  10. YES YES YES, all these things! Especially the slow building romance, instalove is just so not realistic.. Unique stories are always great, the more books you read, the more you realize every story is a bit the same as others. And why are so many books in trilogies nowadays, with most of them the stories could easily be told in one or two books.

  11. I agree with your point about there being too much focus on series and not enough on stand-alone books. Yes, series let us see the MC develop and make choices but sometimes it feels dragged out and has “filler text” in places to pad out the book. I’d also love to see less love triangles in YA fiction. Great idea for a blog post!🙂

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