Randomosity: Five Things You Wish to See More of in Fiction

This week we're joining in on the Friday Fives hosted by Paper Hangover.  In our case, we're zeroing in on the YA dystopian/supernatural/scifi/fantasy scene since that's what we've been tearing through this year and last.  Below is a sampling of books we've read recently (as well as a few read less recently) and which springboarded these ideas.  Some books contain things we like and want more of, while others have problems/issues we've seen overdone.  Some books contain both.

FIVE things we'd like to see more of in these types of books:

1. Dystopian that's not all about bringing down the regime.   It's cool that dystopian is the name of the game nowadays in YA, but most of the ones we've read lately culminate in rebellion, revolution, and the downfall of the tyrannical government.  It'd be nice to read a story where the world is dystopian but the story doesn't hinge upon destroying the current world order.  The main character does not have to be the Mockingjay.

2. Female characters who are badass without necessarily literally kicking ass. E.g. Claudia in Incarceron, who goes for what she wants head-on by forging her own path through intelligence, political maneuvering, and manipulation.  Or Mae in Demon's Lexicon - normal teenage girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, who maintains badassity without actually busting out secret ninja moves or super powers. She does it all by being true to her character - stubborn, loving, and brave.  Don't just tack on "and she knows Thai kickboxing" as if marital arts are a necessary component of badassity.  (Incidentally, if you check out the top rankings for "badass" on Urban Dictionary, nowhere does it say one must physically kick ass to be badass.)

3. Love triangles where it's not immediately obvious who the heroine/hero is going to end up with.  You can be Team Jacob all you want, but admit it--you always knew Bella was going to end up with Edward.  Even if you hoped otherwise.  The same goes for most YA love triangles, wherein a hero(ine) is presented with two love interests, and you always know which one s/he's going to end up with.

4. More YA main characters who are dudes, and hopefully they actually sound like dudes.  90% of the YA we've read in recent years has featured female protagonists.  Granted, the target market for YA seems to be a mostly female audience, but it'd be nice for there to be some guy protagonists too, who sound like guys.  Not to stereotype what males "ought" to sound like or anything, but sometimes male protagonists written by female authors end up sounding forced, artificial, or (for lack of a better word) girly.

5. More family dynamics. Where are the parents?  Yes, parents can be an inconvenience when you want to go on an adventure or get involved in shady relationships, but part of being a teen is dealing with your parents.  You can love them or hate them, resent them or desire their approval, or all four, but your parents are never a non-issue.  We're not asking for wrenchingly deep emotional exploration of parent-child dynamics; we're just asking that the protagonists deal with and think of their parents in realistic terms, as opposed to not even thinking about them.

So, folks, that's our five!  Do you agree or disagree that there's a lack of the above?  Do you have any book recommendations to fill these empty spaces on our YA shelf?


vic caswell said...

right on krispy!!!!
preach. :)

Elena Solodow said...

Amen to all of those. I especially like the triangles where the MC would be good with either choice.

And a realistic boy voice in YA? Yes, yes, yes.

Angela said...

I'm all for number three. It's so hard, though, not to bias your readers toward one guy or the other.

ali cross said...

This is fantastic! You guys put a lot of thought into this. I think I agree with all of your points, especially the parent issue. I found myself guilty of a couple points in my stories, and breathed a sigh of relief when I read ones I'm doing. Whew. I'm not guilty of ALL Krispy & Alz's no-nos!

Alicia Gregoire said...

Great list!

Hannah said...

Love this list! Less obvious love triangles would be torture but that's the best part of reading... and dystopians that aren't all about rebellion, yes!

Erinn said...

Yep lots of those are on my list too. Show some love for teh DUDES out there.

Nelson said...

The blog is very good!

Lydia Kang said...

Great list! I liked Shipbreaker for reason #1.
I'm thinking of my own WIP, and am working on making #1 not happen and being better at #5. The others? Well...we can't all be perfect. :)

Connie Keller said...


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