Monday, 26 September 2016

Outgrowing YA

Upon first arriving in YA, I thought I'd never leave. I told myself for that for now this was my playground. But now I've seen the bigger swings and slides, and want to go on them. And I've come a have a revelation. It's been coming for a while, but it finally hit earlier this year.  

I think I'm outgrowing YA.

Perhaps 'outgrowing' isn't the best of words, perhaps 'moving away from' would be more appropriate.

I first started reading YA in 2013, and having finished the Harry Potter series, there was this whole new section of 'teenage' books. All of which I'd never heard of. It started with The Fault in Our Stars, Cat Clarke, and Divergent, and then it all spiralled out of control from there. I'll always be grateful for YA and the lessons which I've learnt from it, because I've learnt so much. But 3 years on, and maybe 200 books later, I'm done. 

YA is becoming the same. There is a lack of creativity, a lack of innovation, and often a dumbing down of writing. Every dystopia is a copy of the Hunger Games. Every contemporary has to be 'for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.' Every book is somewhat a manifestation or duplicate of another and I'm so so sick of it.

I'm sick of the love triangles which never happen in real life. I'm sick of the instantaneous falling in love, and the 'super hot, really cute boy' or 'the guy with the dark, mysterious past that she can't stay away from.' That one girl who's at the centre of the revolution and the volatile portrayals of mental health. I'm sick of authors and publishers romanticising bad and serious situations with a love story, because that doesn't happen.Too often YA plots are treated like  picnics. Although the persons life can be foul 'don't worry, we all get love and happy endings.'

The tropes are repetitive. The writing is bland, and the plots are weak. Maybe it is just a dip in creativity in fiction right now, but I see this in both US and UK YA. I don't feel like I learn things from YA anymore. And if I do, I rarely do. I feel like what the industry is being fed, or what we're being fed by the publishers, are the same ideas over and over.

General fiction seems so foreign to me. I don't know it like YA. I don't know the in's and out's, the author's to watch, and writing styles. Everything is new, sterile, unfamiliar, but waiting to be touched, highlighted, dog-eared, annotated. Knowing that is exciting and terrifying, because to break into a new genre is to fall and get up again. It's learning what you like and don't like, wasting time and money on the worst of stories that you thought you might love. There are millions and millions of books which I've never heard of, but some could one day be favourites if I only enter that room, and pick up that book. 

I'll always take a peek in a YA section. My intrigue for that category will never fully cease. But I want to look further. I want to read new stories and go on new adventures. I want something different.  

This discussion will never be accurate enough. It'll never truly reflect what I want to say, because even I don't know the entirety of the reasoning behind this decision. As Albert Camus said, 'blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.' Camus is right; my heart is malleable; my heart can bend to welcome the new and shut out the old instead of ending up broken through having this realisation too late. I just know that though I'll keep reading young adult fiction, the time has come to read it less and begin a new reading chapter in my life. 

Holly x


  1. I really understand where you're coming from. Around this time two years ago I thought I was done with YA. Like you said, they had become the same and the writing was bland. Every relationship was an echo of Gus and Hazel and every plot was like Katniss Everdeen's. However after a few contemporary book and the odd crime I found myself going back to YA. Not all YAs I like but that's just life. I like to read everything but I'm automatically drawn to YA. I hope you enjoy the newness and unfamiliarity of your new book journey! ^^

    1. You're analogy is so perfect, Marian! 'An echo of Gus and Hazel' is EXACTLY how I feel...
      I know just what you mean; a part of me will always want to look into YA, but just not so much as I used to. Thanks!!

  2. As I have just graduated from high school, I fear this will be me soon!

    1. Perhaps don't consider it as happening because of leaving school - it might just happen [if it happens] due to changes in ideas and beliefs, or simply because we all grow up. I'm in my final year of Sixth Form [Senior Year in the US], and I don't think this happened because of reaching that age, it's just happened because I've had experiences that have changed me, and therefore changed how I feel about these reads.

  3. Oh gosh yes yes yes I love this post, especially: Too often YA plots are treated like picnics.. YES. I feel the same way, have felt the same way for a while and did also write about my frustrations with the tropes and love triangles and banal use of simplistic language. I still do read YA, but not so much - I've become muCH pickier with the YA i read, maybe one in ten YA books i'll read and enjoy.
    If you're moving away from YA a few adult books i've read and loved were:
    the secret history by donna tartt
    the handmaid's tale
    the snow child
    if you've not read them!

    1. Thank you Hawwa! It took a lot to compile this, but it needed to be said! What you've mentioned is so accurate - it's incredibly hard to find YA that speaks to me anymore. More often than not, I hate what I read, with the rare occasion of loving something. Even then, I don't feel like I've properly felt like 'I LOVE THIS YA BOOK' in at least a year...
      I've read The Handmaid's Tale and The Snow Child - both haunting and wonderful in language, but will definitely check out The Secret History on your recommendation!

  4. Hi Holly - hope you're enjoying your journey onto the big swings and slides! Loved your post, partly because from this side of the fence as a writer, I totally agree with you about the 'sameness' that's creeping into YA, but feel a lot of it is down to publishers not being prepared to take risks at the moment. My publisher rejected my latest book on the grounds that it had a boy protagonist and boys don't read, and that YAs weren't interested in green this economic clomate they mostly seem to want stories that fit with other best sellers, sadly! Anyway, great post and keep enjoying books, whatever you choose to read in future. :-)


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