A YA Observation

*I’m feeling like I need to preface this with the understanding that this is just a general observation, obviously, not every book categorized as young adult (YA) would cater to the list below, and from that, neither does every YA author.*

OK, I have read A LOT of young adult fiction lately, waaaaaay more than I have read in years – literal years – but they’re just so easy to get a hold of, they’re super easy to read, and they are (for the most part) quite entertaining.  Here’s what I am noticing though – they are all very very similar at their foundation.  I mean, really think about all those YA series you’ve read lately, while the main story line may be unique, the basic core of YA novels/series seems to have all meshed together in some capacity.

  1. The setting.  More often than not YA series are set in worlds other than our own.  I have found that in many cases it’s a world either post democratic breakdown or pre democratic institution.
  2. Class struggle.  There is almost always some sort of rift between classes, either as we would see today with simply poor vs. wealthy, or it’s ruling class vs. subject, gods vs. mortals, etc.
  3. Theme.  SO many of these series are about having to fight for you life, or fight for what you believe in – generally it’s about the oppressive ruling class (however they may be formed in each book) needing to be brought down and/or destroyed.
  4. Characters. The age of the (unexpected, unprepared) female leader is upon us with a vengeance.  Probably because (I imagine) the demographic of YA are females and so there is something there to relate to (in some capacity, though I don’t imagine many YA females are out fighting the world – I mean that literally).
  5. Love.  Either the triangle or the one true love.  Is there any other love story out there? Really….I can’t think of one.  How about the one where people do break up because of college, or they just drift.  Also, the object of affection is either some high up somewhere (a king, an angel, a god) and/or they don’t start out with a good relationship with the protagonist.  It’s an enemies to friends to more thing that appears to be quite the popular recipe.  (On a positive side note, you are seeing a much more diverse love story in many of the secondary characters of books that explore more than just your typical male-female relationship).

When’s the last time you read an super unique YA novel, I mean truly unique.  I think for me two authors come to mind: Maggie Stiefvater and Leigh Bardugo. And to be fair, I think Stiefvater does a better job of it than Bardugo. (Actually Cassandra Clare could potentially be put in a pretty unique category, too).

So tell me, am I crazy? Maybe it’s just time for me to take a break from this genre…..

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