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Things In YA Fiction That Will Make Me Roll My Eyes

A few days ago, I read a great post here about what will make you put down a book… more specifically a YA book. As I read a lot of YA, I wanted to do my own list. Steph Bowe (the blogger from the post above) is 15 years old, and her list is pretty awesome so you YA writers out there take heed!

I don’t really want to say what’ll make me put down a book as I try really hard to finish everything I pick up. So I’ll just say:

Things That Will Make Me Roll My Eyes in YA Fiction:

1. When the hot new guy comes to school and he’s dark and dangerous for no other reason than to be dark and dangerous. (This does make me pause, because I have a new guy in my latest WIP, Platinum Diaries. He’s cute, but not really hot and he’s also weird, so I hope his odd behavior will make him less of the clichéd new kid, plus his hair is red…so we shall see-lol)

2. When everybody in the book is beautiful. Come on…I know in my high school, not only were there a lot of unattractive people, but some of them were even popular, some of them were even funny and athletic and had lots of friends. Some of them were even overweight and had lots of friends, boys/girls who wanted to date them and ‘til this day still get recognized from high school (okay, I’m speaking of myself here. But my point is, I wasn’t slim with the perfect figure and I was still very popular in high school. The pretty people didn’t rule at my school and that’s the way it is sometimes.)

3. To piggyback on number two…When everyone is the same ethnicity. Now, it depends on where the book takes place, but most places in the US are melting pots. When all the characters are of one ethnicity it makes me wonder if the author just didn’t feel like investing the time and effort into creating characters of other races—not that there is too much effort to put into that—still, it makes me roll my eyes.

4. To piggyback onto number three-lol…When characters of other ethnicities are stereotypes. Now, I know some people are just stereotypes, after all, the stereotype had to come from somewhere. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I know some walking, talking stereotypes, but when you have carte blanche to create people anyway you want, why not let the tall, athletic black kid be a skateboarder instead of a baller, or the emo kid think that his parents are awesome instead of hating the very air they breathe, or the Asian kid suck at math instead of being a wiz at all academics. It’ll make for much more interesting characters.

5. When the characters are Passive. Now I know that some people are just passive and sometimes, in order to represent the way the world is, you’ll have to create a character that will lie down and make a doormat of themselves. I understand this, but it still makes me roll my eyes. A book I just finished, which I’m not going to name, constantly had the main character saying things like, I wanted to say _____, but I didn’t...I wanted to do____, but I didn't. I wanted to scream after the fifth time this character’s internal dialogue expressed what she wanted to say/do but she never had the balls to carry through.

6. When people fall in love too fast. This bugs the ba-jesus out of me in ALL fiction, not just YA. I’m a bit more lenient on YA because I know what it was like to be a teen (it hasn’t been that long) so I know when you have a crush and those feelings are so intense you can’t breath, but when it’s in a book, it just seems lazy to me. Give us reasons for these people to love each other and not just because he’s gorgeous and she smells good. I want to be able to fall in love right along with the characters.

7. When girls are too giggly. I was not a silly, giggly girl in real life, and I’m not a silly giggly woman—okay, some would argue the silly part—but I just can’t stand reading about girls who would just die if they don’t get asked to the dance, or if they don’t get a certain pair of shoes, or heaven forbid, if someone else wore the same shirt that they had on. I don’t scream when I find a nice pair of shoes, I don’t squeal when a cute boy is near (never did…I played it cool-lol) and I don’t talk a mile a minute about purses and nail polish and lip gloss even though I love all of those things. Silly, giggly girls just plain get on my nerves and when I read them in books (especially if it’s the MC) it makes me roll my eyes and seriously consider putting that book down. This isn’t usually a problem because if it even seems like the character is going to be silly when I read the back summary, then I put it back on the shelf!

My list could go on, but tell me, what are some of the things that push your buttons in YA fiction?


When a girl walks alone down a dark alley.

I can't stand it when this happens. It makes me question the girl's intelligence, and I have a difficult time staying interested in someone who I think is stupid.
Man I hate that too! And then, when they hear something behind them, they always stop and turn around and ask, "Who's there?"
Just once I want the killer to say, "It's me, the guy who's about to kill you!"

To me, this is a sign of a lazy writer. They can't think of a way to get the protagonist into the line of danger so they have her do stupid things to put herself into harms way.
"To me, this is a sign of a lazy writer."

Exactly. When I crit something, I point out (in a nice way) that no smart person would walk down that alley. I try to brainstorm ways she might be forced down it. I'm almost always able to think of something.

November 2009

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