Saturday, April 26, 2014

Young Adult Literature and How to Improve It

Hah. As if there even WAS a way to improve modern young adult literature (hereafter referred to as YAL). Seriously, until the following guidelines are met, just go to the library and grab some Dickens or Twain. (Unless you have been banished from the city libraries, like me)

Give me a heroine who DOES NOT have a boyfriend or give me death!!
Seriously. These books 'claim' to have independent young women who can take care of themselves... and they still have boyfriends. It is totally possible for a female character to have both a love interest and a will of her own. There's Princess Leia, Emma Woodhouse, Eowyn, and Stormy Llewellyn, to name a random few. Unfortunately, YAL authors seem to have lost the art of the well-balanced female character. Your average YAL heroine is moody, cold-hearted (These days Cold-Hearted is supposed to pass for cool and indpendent), extremely talented at something, in possession of a unique eye color, and of course, completely dependent on her boyfriend.
I had a pretty good opinion of Katniss Everdeen until that scene in Mockingjay where she saw Peeta on the TV screen and pressed her face and hands against it. Yeah. Icon of feminism, ladies and gentleman.

Can we have something that isn't Dystopian Future, Vampire-Based, Zombie Based, or a Romance?
I like Dystopia books. I like Vampires (provided they aren't sparkly, mind you) and I like Zombies. I even like Romance if it's done right. But these plot elements are so incredibly overused these days that I roll my eyes whenever I see a book with these things in them! Trust me, YAL authors of the world! We are able to have interest in things that aren't distopian, zombie, romance, vampire, or all at once! Maybe give us some historical fiction, or or hey! Here's an idea! A book about a regular bum kid like us who doesn't have powers, or go to magic school, or kill the bourgeois with a bow and arrow. You know, like Ramona Quimby for older kids!

No more magic school!
You heard me! Harry Potter played that card with titanic success, and as a consequence any subsequent attempt at the genre will seem like a blatant rip off. That didn't stop the author of the Percy Jackson series, anyway... seriously. It's even got the hero boy/awkward sidekick/clever girl trio going!

Must the plot always be on a world-shaking scale?
I love books who's story rocks the entire world it's set in. Stories like LOTR where the fate of the world is at stake, etc. But I also like stories that are contained on a very small scale. Stories who's events don't change the world beyond the lives of the characters. Examples would be Emma, or perhaps Bleak House. I like the sense that after the events of the story time keeps marching on, no stops. It gives me chills to think that the world of the story keeps on turning even after the hero's story is over. I'm not sure what I mean by this, but I suppose the point that I'm getting at is that the story doesn't have to be mind-bendingly epic. You can have a journey of self-discovery without travelling the world. YAL however, seems to suggest just the opposite.

That's all I can think of for now, after all, I don't actually read a great deal of YAL. Do any of you have any thoughts on this? Any other criteria for the improvement of YAL? Or maybe we should all just give up it and stick with older stuff. :P

No comments:

Post a Comment

I have enabled comment moderation, but you have nothing to worry about unless your comment has swearing, vulgar language, or is rude and uncourteous.
Feel free to subscribe to follow-up comments, since I'll probably respond sooner or later.
Oh, and if you're commenting with the anonymous setting, please leave a name or alias at the end of your comment, so that I can have something to call you. :)