I went through a phase of my life where all YA books I read was often terrible. For lack of better word. And it’s as though YA had lost most of the charm that defined it for what it was.
Or that it is just me, where I grew as a person enough to feel the differences. Even a lot of my favorite authors, have disappointed me for most part. With the exception of Melinda Salisbury, who has managed to continue writing something that I enjoyed immensely.
Why? And I’m going to explore some of the issues here.
#1 It became all about the action
A lot of YA is about action, not so much on bildungsroman or coming of age. Or telling stories that highlight the struggles, or issues we go through in our daily lives.
It became all about the creative ways to kill kids, the great places to visit but never exploring the world and how it could be connected to us. It was wish fulfilment without ever giving a message that reality meant the most. And the best thing was to face it. Distractions are nice but never the way to go. And most importantly, was the lack of depth and theme.
The best YA I remembered had them. From And I Darken and its themes on survival, to Now I Rise and the character study. To Forest of A Thousand Lanterns with the critique on patriarchy.
State of Sorrow was an exception, I couldn’t grasp a clear running theme. But it had an idea what it wanted to do with the characters. And Sorrow grew as a character.
#2 It became all about the romance
YA needs a better way to handle romance, and more of a chance to talk about the major issues that young adults face. Honestly, I’m 17 and there isn’t a time in my life where I had actually dated.
There just isn’t time for that. I have many things I need to do, I have many aspirations. Which makes dating the last thing on my mind. I don’t have the time to think about it. Even when most of them don’t last but I simply can’t find them thus I don’t force them.
#3 The lack of character growth
For a young adult story, this is paramount. We all know that being a young adult is often reflective. I never knew how flawed I was, and how immature I was two years ago until now.
It is all about growth, about becoming more mature and understanding just what they were wrong. And growing as a person.
YA needs to be about that. It needs to be about self-dicsovery and understanding who we are. And discovering just what makes us happy far more than anything else.
For me, this is where YA largely failed for me. YA is a genre that broke down many barriers and I do hope that it continues to do so. But these are simply my thoughts on this genre. And what it should truly focus on.