Annoying Clichés in Young Adult Romance Fiction

O.k I am going to talk about my LEAST favorite genre in the young adult books. This is also the one I am pretty concerned about because there are some themes that are being retreaded over and over and over.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to read YA romance novels you usually turned to sweet valley high. They weren’t perfect- they are pretty darn close to pretty little liars- but it seems Ya fiction has come a long way from that former assessment.
I guess romance novels have become a beast in of itself, and while I was sort of expecting chick lit- which I don’t seem to mind reading from time to time- this seemed a lot more like harlequin romances than anything.
They are also trending number one in teen novels…beside fantasy/ sci fi and dystopian novels.Which have the same similar themes. As I started to read them a lot of them became blurred into the same darn plot albeit some key changes here and there.

Lover Boy as the Bad Damaged Distant Guy

He has penetrating eyes, and strong biceps tends to be a ladies man but doesn’t seem to connect with anyone. He is damaged , in some way or another. He has a dark past which usually involves sexual, physical or some kind of abuse. He has horrible parents or absent ones. He has no direction in life until he meets….

Wimpy Damaged Heroine

Our damaged heroine is a victim. She has been a victim of horrible parents/death/rape/incest/domestic violence… but somehow is still pretty wimpy. She shivers a lot and is unaware of her captivating beauty. That all changes when she meets ( insert ridiculous name here ) who awakens her and frightens her at the same time. Even though he is dangerous, and can’t stand having anyone talk to her or any men around her she feels ALIVE. She has no real ambition of her own. We don’t know any of her talents, we don’t know how she thinks and quite frankly she is pretty annoying. Despite people saying how great she is, she is pretty one dimensional

I hated these two themes more than anything else because it promotes the idea that if you fall in love, your pain and scars will disappear… if anything without therapy a relationship with two very screwed up individuals can become even more conflicted , toxic and codependent. It is not a cure, and romanticizing codependency is an extremely irresponsible thing to do . They very rarely really deepen on how this pain affects the characters. If you really want to know the effect of physical or sexual abuse go read i know why the caged bird sings, among other books. It’s really very dark and you do not recover just by some manly man cradling your weakened body into your arms.

Unecessary Conflict
After a lot of misunderstanding they get close… like fall- in -love- after- three- days -close. And then like there is some random stupid barrier that doesn’t allow them to get closer …. some misunderstanding

At the last minute
They realize their love until

Another unecessary conflict
Usually someone is about to die, is going to die or will die. Only they don’t …they make some miraculous recovery.

The girl is always a virgin
There is a lot of very steamy love scenes in this which surprises me because it is catered to teens where the stupid inexperienced virgin ( that everyone is surprised she is a virgin at 17 ….) gets experienced finally by the bad boy.

All Characters are white and American…
These guys don’t get around much in terms of diversity.

The characters get married
They get married without finishing school, having any ambition or even a view of the future. Most of these characters get married within six months of knowing each other.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Bad romance novels bad. I am not a romance novel expert so please school me but surely we don’t have to retread the same plot over and over to appease teenagers.

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Some Trends in YA fiction

Ok, I am back. Been awhile huh?
So , I kind of got into a book vortex. A black hole of books. I have been reading a book a day, and for ” research” purposes most of them have been YA fiction. I am no embarrassed by this, but afterawhile, some things began to blur together. After forty books, most of them series I am starting to see a couple things that are becoming eerily similar.

Lover Boy

Most of the books have an incredibly hot, smart and sensitive guy who for an unexplained reason is really into the protagonist. This hot guy is the catalyst for all the action that picks up in the books. Without Lover boy, the protagonist would crumble. She needs lover boy for affirmations, for strength. He is the only person that trusts her, that knows the truth about whatever lurks around the corner.

And for the record, he is a total Mary Sue.

The Protagonist.

Most of the characters in these books are from a female perspective, and as such have a love interest.Most of the girls in these books self describe themselves as not really that extraordinary. This is clearly not the truth as Lover Boy thinks she is the best thing since swiss cheese.

Dystopian Society

The amount of books set in a dystopian society is unsettling. Not one of these books offer a positive scenario of the future, just a controlling 1984 Big Brother scenario. I wouldn’t mind if it had a message like the Hunger Games books but many of these books are set in this society to move the story forward. There isn’t even a convincing backstory as to why the crumbling future happened. At least give us SOME idea why the world is limited to a tiny population in the middle of the United States.

Most of the Characters are White

So society is crumbling and there are few if any indications that anyone is anything other than white american?

All of the books are set in the United States

Enough said. It’s like no country ever survived the apocalypse and are just written out of the story.

The characters are remarkably self absorbed
Despite it being about a dystopian society where everyone is imprisoned, miserable or in danger the characters are remarkably only concerned about their inner circle of friends and more importantly their love interest. They sacrifice everything and everyone to continue to be with aforementioned love interest. They have no concern about anyone else…


The unwritten law of written out parents

There are zero parental figures in these books. I get it, characters are supposed to find their way on their own and so parents would impede this quest, but really most parents in these books are useless, stupid, weak willed and feebleminded.


The obsession with supernatural beings

Witches, zombies, werewolves, fairies, angels, demons…. We can’t invent a NEW supernatural being? Something that hasn’t been done before. Just saying. Especially vampires. Let’s just cross that out for at least ten years. If writers DO decide to write about it, I wish they would do a different perspective ( like daughter of smoke and bone) sort of a ” it’s not what you think” kind of thing.

The plots in these books range from I-Don’t- wan’t – to admit it’s addictive books to boring to absolutely breaking your heart. Stay tuned for another post on which ones I recommend and which ones I wouldn’t bother with.