A while back I wrote a blogpost titled Why I Dislike Most Young Adult Books and it sparked a lot of interesting discussion in the comment section and on Twitter.
Young Adult fiction is very well loved in the book community and although I don’t hate all YA books – some of my all-time faves are YA books – I’ve become very picky with them. There are a few things I really love in YA fiction that almost instantly make me enjoy a book that much more. If you know of any YA books that utilize these tropes in a good way, don’t hesitate to recommend them to me in the comments!
Great family dynamics
The family dynamic in The Hate U Give was my favorite part of the book. I love a good family-oriented book in which the main character receives support from their family. Still too often do I find books that kill off a family member just to make the plot work, or the main character does not have a great relationship with their family, usually as an excuse as to why no one tells them they need to go to school instead of leading a revolution.
Books without romance
To piggyback off of my wish for more great family dynamics, I would like to see more books without romance. Instead, let me see platonic friendships! Let me see how a character goes through change all by themselves, without the romance taking credit for some (if not all) of it!
Now, I am not from the USA so I think I am already exposed to more books with different settings than the average reader that mostly reads US published books, but still. I would love for US or UK writers to write more (well-researched) books that do not take place in the west. Specifically books set in Africa and Asia have been sparking my interest lately. Dystopian books from a different viewpoint than the US? Yes please.
I love reading about taboo topics in YA. Of course, the things considered ‘taboo’ vary from person to person depending on where and the way you grew up. I love it when books tackle subjects like racism, police brutality, sexuality and queerness. Basically anything that can make the average reader a bit uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is good sometimes, because it helps you expand your worldview!
Even in contemporary books teenage characters sometimes spend almost zero time in school. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was fifteen school was a huge part of my life. Actually now at 22 it kind of still is.. I might be in the minority here, but I absolutely love books that utilize the school setting. I think you can do really interesting things with it.
Heavy subject matter
Just like taboo topics, I love YA books that deal with heavy subject matter. I recognize that it might sounds a little weird that I actually willingly pick up books that deal with loss, abuse and mental illness, but as someone who is incredibly interested in the human psyche reading books that tackle these subjects from a YA perspective is awesome! YA books often approach these things in a completely different way compared to adult books, and I really appreciate that.
Although this is a taboo topic, sex deserves a specific mention in my opinion. I want more sex in YA books – and when I say sex, I don’t mean long, explicit sex scenes, but I’m really tired of books just glossing over teen sexuality. As a teen, discovering your sexuality is a huge part of your life, or at least it was in mine. I was a fairly sexually active teen and I also discovered my own sexuality around that time, so it was a big part of my life. I recently read I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, and I think this topic was well explored in that book!