1) The Brooding/Unhealthy Love Interest
I know I probably sound like your mother, but that boy really is bad news! One of the main reasons I don't tend to read an awful lot of YA is because in my experience it's a genre brimming with these brooding, unsociable, horrible love interests. These are the kind of guys who, if you met them in real life, you'd probably want to stay as far away from as possible, and yet in book form they seem to make everyone swoon. There's nothing romantic about a guy who thinks the world owes him something and spends his days moping about how unfair the universe is, all while managing to look hella cute despite never cracking a smile.
This isn't something that's seen only in YA, of course. It's remarkable the amount of people who romanticise Heathcliff; those of you who have read Wuthering Heights will know there's nothing romantic about the guy at all. He's really quite awful.
|Yeah, he totally looks like a guy you should date.|
2) "I'm not like other girls!"
UGH. This is something else I often come across in YA: female characters who believe they're better than other women because they don't care about their appearance or because they spend their weekends reading all six of Jane Austen's novels.
Shockingly women are as diverse as men; a girl can be a black belt in karate who enjoys playing video games and wearing makeup, just as another girl can enjoy shoe shopping and baking while also being a huge fan of the X-Men and Renaissance Literature. The worst thing writers can do - especially women writers - is pit different kinds of women against each other. It's just not cool.
3) The Dead Girl Test
Whenever I dip into crime fiction - which, unless it's historical crime, isn't all that often - there's always something I look for: does it pass the Dead Girl Test?
If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about just go to the nearest shelf of crime fiction, whether you have an accumulation of it yourself or next time you're in a library or book store, and read a few of the blurbs. The majority of them will be about a police officer trying to catch someone who has been brutally murdering women.
Now that's not the part I have a problem with, but what does bother me is that you can guarantee that at some point there will be a scene in which a woman's body will be discovered and someone will describe how beautiful she is.
Firstly, dead bodies are grim. It doesn't matter if they've started decomposing or not, there's just something horrifying about corpses. No matter how pretty a person might have been when they were alive there is nothing to romanticise about their corpse. (In fact if your first thought upon seeing a dead body is 'hm not bad' then I think alarm bells should start ringing...)
Secondly, what I hate about this trope is that it implies that if the victim were as ugly as sin it wouldn't be as tragic. I know that's not what the author's saying, but I do think there's an element of that there and it really bugs me.
4) You've Got a Friend in Me
Again, this is something I tend to see a lot of in YA: whatever happened to girl/guy friendships? In recent years there have certainly been more, but so often if a boy and girl are best friends then at some point one falls in love with the other and it's so frustrating.
Friendships are so beautiful and powerful that a lot of the time romance can spoil them. Think of your friends - your best friends - if they were in peril you wouldn't even think before you helped them, would you? There's that old saying that 'friends are the family you choose', and I hate seeing friendships ruined for the sake of...
5) Three's A Crowd
If there is any hint that a book contains a love triangle then the likelihood is I won't bother reading it. I'm so bored of them, and in my experience they're done well very rarely. In YA nowadays love triangles tend to be made up of three things on my list; the brooding guy, the heroine who's not like other girls, and the best friend. So I think I'll pass.
Does anyone actually like this?
7) It Matters if You're Black or White
I loathe whitewashing. I hate it in my films (I'm looking at you, Exodus) and I hate it on my book covers. If a character is a POC then it really shouldn't be difficult to put a POC on the cover if you're having people on the cover at all!
I wrote a post about this topic which you can check out here if you're interested in hearing more of my thoughts on this issue!
What are some of your bookish peeves? Don't forget to check out Shannon's post!