Qualities I Wish Were More Prominent in YA

Hi guys! This post was inspired by both Taryn’s Twitter thread and Ashleigh’s blog post. I love YA — it’s the only genre I read, with the exception of a MG on occasion — and know there are hundreds and hundreds, possibly thousands, of books to read. More come out each month, and one day maybe I’ll own and read all of them. *daydreams* But as fabulous as it is, I’ve come to realize that there are some things YA books are lacking. That’s what this post is all about. 🙂

So, without further ado, here are ten things I wish were more prominent in YA.

*drum roll* XD

1. Stories told from a male POV. I love female narrators and main characters, and have no problem with them, but with the abundance of them comes the scarcity of male narrators. Percy Jackson and Harry Potter have fantastic male voices, but I qualify them as *upper* MG. As for YA, there aren’t many. Four has an alternating perspective with Tris in Allegiant, male leads in the Shadowhunter Chronicles and Throne of Glass (and others) swap with females but in third person, and A Court of Mist and Fury features a single chapter from Rhysand’s POV. Eleanor & Park and Carry On feature rotating male narrators, and there are likely others that I either forgot about or haven’t read yet. But where are the books told primarily, or entirely, from a male’s POV? 😉

2. Stories where the main character, male or female, don’t have a love interest. As much as my hopeless romantic heart loves romance in books, I can’t think of any books that leave a main character single in the end. It doesn’t matter what gender they are: 99% of characters end the book/series in a relationship. Why can’t a story end with a character being single? Why can’t there be stories with characters that are strong and single? That’s completely possible and very common in today’s society, so I think it should be carried over to books as well. 🙂

3. Stories with diversity, whether it’s sexual, racial, or otherwise, that don’t have stereotypes attached. Asian characters are smart, and particularly good at math. Homosexuals are either wallflowers or wild party animals. There are other examples, too, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with characters having these qualities, why not make them different? Maybe there’s an Asian character who struggles with math and loves performing arts. Maybe there’s a homosexual who likes to have their voice heard and isn’t afraid to have differing opinions, but doesn’t like clubs or parties. A story can (and should) be at least a little diverse, but that doesn’t mean certain characteristics have to come along with it. 😉

4. Stories where the main character has a family that cares, and has a positive relationship with his/her parents and, if they have any, siblings. Contemporary books/series typically have main characters with families, but they’re likely dysfunctional, and any siblings are seen as irritating. Fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian are similar, except the main character either is an orphan or doesn’t have a family that cares enough to worry when their son/daughter disappears on a perilous quest of some sort. Regardless of the genre, I wish more books featured strong, caring, intact families, where the relationship went both ways. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard that To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has a great family dynamic. Percy Jackson and Harry Potter also feature awesome mothers/families, but again, they’re more MG. And though not many people have read it, I enjoy the relationship Kate has with her mom in The Goddess Test. I would love for more books to have familial figures/bonds like these do. 😀

5. Stories with main characters that are just average, and have flaws, rather than being beautiful/attractive or becoming a “special snowflake.” Many main characters can be put into three categories: naturally beautiful/attractive, average/flawed in the beginning but discover something that no one else has, or average/flawed the entire story but trying to become otherwise. I don’t mind beautiful characters or “special snowflakes,” in stories, if it’s written well and doesn’t make him/her a snob. But why is this almost always the case? I would love to read a story with a character that’s only average, just living their life, and totally okay with it, because that would be so much more relatable. 🙂

6. Stories with more realistic romantic relationships. I wouldn’t know from personal experiences, but I don’t think relationships happen in a matter of days or hours. They take months or years, realistically, and have ups and downs. They might not last, either. But in books, two characters can fall in love in the blink of an eye and end up being perfect for each other. Insta-love isn’t realistic, and is often found annoying by readers, myself included. Why not spread the buildup of their relationship over weeks or months? What if some of their personality traits clash, and the two of them either have to work through it or end their relationship? I feel like it would be so much more interesting to read about, and more appealing to many readers. 😉

7. Stories with more positive friendships, and ones that don’t turn into romances. Casual, positive friendships don’t seem to be very common anymore. Girls and guys alike are either rivals and trying to outdo the other, or fighting over a love interest. Why can’t two girls or guys just be friends, hang out, and talk about their day? Maybe they could go out to eat, or go shopping, or train together. And if it’s a girl and a guy, why can’t they just help each other out? It feels like a girl and a guy can’t just be friends anymore; one of them will be secretly in love with the other, or they’re both in love and start dating. Simple, genuine friendships are still common in real life, regardless of genders, so books should be the same way. 🙂

8. Stories where small details in life aren’t overlooked. This has been brought up many times before, and I’m mainly bringing it up for one reason: periods. Periods just don’t exist in books. Whether it’s a contemporary and the girl is trying to get through school or enjoying summer, or a fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian where she’s fighting for rights, her life, or saving the world, periods just disappear. The only book I can think of that features a girl on her period is Throne of Glass, and it’s honestly one of my favorite scenes in the book. Chaol has no clue what to do, and Dorian doesn’t even blink. It’s hilarious. XD But anyway, I wish periods were featured more. Granted, they’re not fun, but it’s just a part of life for us girls. In contemporaries, there’s no excuse: they’re in a modern setting and living a life where they could easily take care of one. Even in fantasy or other worlds, there has to be an herb or potion or something to help. Unless one of those societies has found a way to magically get rid of periods, in which case: can I live in that world, please?! 😛

9. Stories without love triangles, or that put a spin on it. Another thing many readers have grown to dread is a love triangle in a story. Personally, I don’t mind them as long as they’re written well. But I get annoyed by them sometimes as well, and mostly because it’s the same thing: a girl and two guys. I would love it (no pun intended) if there was a twist on the typical love triangle. What if it was a guy choosing between two girls? What if it was three homosexual/bisexual/*other sexuality* guys? What if it was three girls? That would be a new and interesting twist on an old trope, and I, for one, would enjoy reading it. 😀

10. Stories that take place somewhere other than the US. As I read more and more books, I’ve come to realize that nearly all YA books (excluding fantasy) take place in the United States, or a dystopian version of it. There are a few exceptions — Anna and the French Kiss takes place in France, parts of Isla and the Happily Ever After take place in Bologna and Spain, Schism begins in Bermuda, The Infernal Devices and other books take place in England, and Tiger’s Curse takes place in India — but not many. There may be more I’m forgetting or haven’t read, but it feels like the majority of books are set in some version of the US. I think it would be interesting to explore other countries in books. Maybe there could be a dystopian France, or an apocalyptic Italy, or a contemporary with a summer in Greece. There are a ton of possibilities, and I would love if even a fraction of them were explored. 😀


And that’s all I have for this post!

Do you agree with my list? Is there anything you would add? Can you think of any books that fit any of my points and recommend them to me? I’d love to know! 🙂

I’m off to have some breakfast and *hopefully* finish The Hidden Oracle. I hope you all are having a fabulous day/night! ❤

Make sure to check out my giveaway for three copies of Schism by Britt Holewinski! 😉

Until next time…

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14 thoughts on “Qualities I Wish Were More Prominent in YA

  1. I really like your blog post, because I think the gaps you mention are definitely in all literature. I think the YA writing community has recognized some of this and is actively working to improve it. Although in my opinion the romance thing is prevalent in almost every book. If you haven’t read any books by Adam Silvera he writes in a male POV, and queer fiction. I also recently read If I Were Your Girl by Meredith Russo where there’s a more interesting “love triangle” so to speak, although that’s by no means the focus of the book. I also think Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda does a good job of combatting common stereotypes, talking about realistic things, and having supportive families.

    If I look at the books I just recommended they all focus around queer narrators. So obviously “mainstream” authors should really work on figuring out some of this stuff!

    Like

  2. This was such a great post! You brought up so many good points all of them were so true. One book that mentions periods that I can think of is Sacred by Elana K. Arnold.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree, there’s a lot to be desired diversity-wise, though I do think it’s becoming more popular. As for male narrators, if I remember correctly, Finnikin of the Rock has a male narrator and that whole series features pretty much every type of relationship (from romantic to platonic) and they’re all done incredibly well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diversity is definitely being incorporated more into books and I love it. I think the next step is just to stop attaching certain stereotypes, because I think that’s just done unconsciously in some cases. 😉
      I’ve heard a lot about Finnikin of the Rock, but never picked it up. I think now I’ll have to look for it! 😀

      Like

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