So pleased to see you again. I am hoping against all odds you don’t find me quite annoying after I’ve switched to twice a week schedule. (Please don’t blame me, it’s all the pandemic that’s been apparently going on.)
Today, I wanted to discuss the 7 YA Pet Peeves I have, what’s so wrong with it, and how we should avoid it as authors. Because, really, it can’t go on like this.
NOTE: Before we go on any further, I would like to say that I don’t mean to discriminate or point out certain people. We’re talking about fictional people. And, these are my opinions and my personal pet peeves that I have. I apologise ahead of time for anyone who may be offended.
1: The Dead, Nonexistent, or Evil Parent
Okay, this is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Some of the YA I have read actually had good integration with parents, but the overwhelming part of YA is filled with dead, nonexistent, or evil parents.
Which is not realistic.
Sure, there are people who have this as a reality. Maybe they have deceased, nonexistent, or downright evil parents who aren’t much of someone who cheers for them. But in truth, even parents who might not be the best person in the world, do care about their children. Even when they’re teenagers.
2: Love Triangles
I actually am not a fan of romance, to begin with, and my biggest pet peeve YA romance trope is the love triangle. There are so many levels this is unhealthy and…wrong.
I mean, it’s not that this is unrealistic. Yes, love triangles do happen in real life, which is the reason it would be written in the first place. But at the same time, there’s something inherently painful about having to read about three people (two of whom would compete against each other for the one) and in all the unhealthiness that is present in YA, I think we should try to rethink love triangles.
One love triangle I did like was What I Like About You, which is a love triangle between a girl and her online self (blogger). I think that was quite innovative and also had a satisfying resolution.
3: Instant Hero
Initially, I was thinking this was the same as the Chosen One ™, but I realised it wasn’t the case. This is where the MC is dragged off into an adventure and despite their previous self (not much of an athlete or strategian), suddenly they gain a secret weapon or superpower and become the hero.
That. Just. Can’t. Happen.
People do not become the best sparring champion in hours. It takes years. I’ve been doing karate for over seven years now, but no one I’ve known has become a Kumite champion in hours, or a month. You need at least half a year. I particularly want to throttle these YA heroes.
4: Party of Doom
One thing that had always puzzled me is the amount of underage drinking, drug abuse,
swearing that is involved in any YA. And the party, where everything comes crashing down.
To back things up, I do have to say I grew up in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. (It’s like the capital of capitals. It’s the coolest city in the world, although I may be biased.) I’m also a homeschooler and grew up in a conservative home. Then again, Japanese people are kind of more conservative than people think.
There’s no such thing as house parties in there. At least, not for high schoolers. Plus, even though some people may do this, I feel like writing about parties like it’s normal is kind of unrealistic. I have friends here who do go to public high schools, but from their stories, I’ve heard that parties aren’t something everyone goes to. Or even a normal thing.
For once, it would be nice to have YA that didn’t entail these things.
5: Diversity. (Because, DIVERSITY!)
As a black Asian person, I’ve known first hand what racism feels like. Couple that with the fact I was a Christian homeschooler in a country with less than 1% Christian population, I would know the importance of diversity. Plus, I wanted to go into STEM, and I was a girl. (Not sure about my second career choices now. First is always a published author.)
But the thing is, you can’t just arbitrarily bunch a black queer programmer, whasian fashion blogger, and straight 3.9 GPA jock together. (Actually, it does sound sort of interesting, but that’s beside the point.) Diversity can’t be diversity just because we need to.
What people need to realise is that before anyone is skin colour or gender orientation, they’re a person. A human being. And that alone makes the person so vastly different from another person. I’ve known two Korean boys who are good at STEM in my science class, and even though they share similarities (math and tech wiz, plays unconventional games) but they are nothing like each other. Even people from the same country, same town, same family, even (looking at my sister) would be different.
And that’s what diversity is all about.
I do not appreciate being shoved down empiric agendas, especially ideas that are veered toward a certain people group. This comes out a lot as the tough girl. Usually, girls in YA tend to lean towards one or the other, and although this has been improving, I still see a lot of girls who defies earthly standards. Girls have different body builds than boys. Take it from someone who was always leading the way as the big sister who was tough and adventurous. (Okay, that is a little bit of exaggeration, but listing out the things I did for my siblings are quite impressive.) At one point, it becomes impossible to keep up with brothers on biking trips, or beating them in Kumite. Utterly disastrous.
Of course, there are people like my sempai from karate who can spar with men twice her size no problem. But not all girls are like that. In fact, most girls are not like that. And it’s okay not to be that person.
So, it would be nice to read/write about girls who are just girls with their own personal strengths and weakness. Being strong isn’t about brawns all the time.
7: The Chosen One
And at last, we come to the most famous YA trope in the world: The Chosen One.
So the one thing I would say is that I don’t necessarily hate this trope. It’s just that I’ve seen this too many times, and sometimes it feels too cardboard.
But, this is actually one trope that could be salvaged. Done correctly, it can deliver a powerful theme and message.
And that’s it for now.
What do you think? Do you have any tropes or pet peeves that you can’t stand? What are some YA tropes that you think should be avoided? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!
Also, let me know in the comments any questions you might have. I’ll answer them on my upcoming blogiversary.