I adore YA books. Yet, I can’t help but feel some tropes are not used enough when they have real potential, so I composed a list of 10 things I want to read more of in YA books.
1. Female heroines who are more than badass.
As much as I love Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior and Jude Duarte, I’m tired of a protagonist’s strength stemming from if they can throw a knife or not. A female doesn’t need to be emotionally unavailable and stubborn to be powerful — characters like Buffy Summers prove that. I want more Buffy Summers-esque characters — ones where girls can cry and like pink without having to compromise their abilities to be a viewed as a genuine threat.
2. Healthy familial relationships.
It is so important to bring awareness to issues people can have with their families, but it would be nice for a character to have supportive parents or a good sibling relationship for once. There’s so many books I’ve read where every divorce is filled with trauma and tension, every mum is an alcoholic and every dad is abusive, or if it’s not one of those things, they’re conveniently absent from their child’s life when stable family environments can be just as beneficial to the plot.
3. Friendships. Especially female.
Females are notoriously pit against each other, but I don’t want to see toxic friends causing the love interest becoming someone’s whole world, I want to see the main character with a sympathetic group around them which they can rely on. There doesn’t even need to be a love story there! I’d love to read more stories about navigating the ups and downs of friendship without the consequences of a fight being so cutthroat it might as well be a Mean Girls outtake.
4. Multiple love interests (without it being a triangle!)
Whilst I want nothing more than to have two vampire brothers fighting over me, it has yet to happen in my time as a teenager. Not that I’m opposed to love triangles, but I want to see characters go through the heartbreak of their first love and the uncertainty of their second or third as they learn to open up to a person again. It’s unlikely a teenager will only have one relationship — although it can happen — and instead of romance being turned into a competition, I want to see a character grow and figure out themselves in different relationships rather than needing to choose.
5. Girls that are like others girls because it isn’t a crime.
This interlinks with number one, but I want to see characters that aren’t ashamed to listen to Harry Styles and be on the cheerleading squad. There’s no shame in liking what society has deemed stereotypical. Owning vintage clothes and reading a book all the time doesn’t make you any better than anyone else — hold on, I think I called myself on that one. Point being, none of the things I mentioned change the complexity of a character and they can still have layers and emotional depth whilst wearing a full face of make up.
6. Series where the characters age with each book.
An obvious example would be Percy Jackson — it’s technically MG, then is YA by the end. For some reason, I find it more emotional to either watch a character age or grow alongside them. The transition from the innocence of being 12 to the angst and hopelessness of 16 is so interesting. To watch as the books become darker with age is something I definitely want more of in YA. In my opinion, going through the school years at an academy or camp of some sort is a good way to utilise this.
7. Heroes that go bad.
Forget villains with a redemption arc, I want heroes that end up with the villain, that crack under the pressure of being a hero, that are hiding a darkness inside of them! The good guy always winning is so overdone.
8. Greek mythology retellings.
More specially Hades and Persephone retellings, as you would know if you follow my Twitter. Since fairytales have been done to death, I want to see people dive into the twisty world of Greek mythology. It’s so rich and there’s plenty of fantastic stories that have the potential to be told in a new and exciting way.
9. Reluctant heroes.
By this, I don’t mean heroes that accept their fate after a few chapters, I want selfish heroes that value themselves more than what they’re meant to do for the good of the world. Heroes that don’t want to accept they’ve been chosen, heroes that don’t know how to fight and don’t want to learn, heroes that would rather go out for ice cream than kill the villain . . .
10. Lovers to enemies.
It could be controversial, but not all books need a happy ending. I would love to see enemies to lovers spun on its head — books where the lovers break up and end up on opposing sides. I feel the internal conflict in a book like that would be fascinating.
What do you want to read more of in YA? Let me know in the comments!
read it and weep,