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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

YA Bloggers Want...Fire and Friction: Bookalicious

Pam from Bookalicious is here today to continue the conversation on what YA bloggers want to see on their shelves, and who better to tell us what's hot than a gal with her finger on the pulse of teen lit?

I first met Pam at the Teen Author Carnival event at BEA - she walked right up to me and introduced herself, making me feel completely welcome. Then when she was stopping in Seattle, we met up with blogger Sarah from Sarah's Random Musings and had a lot of fun talking about books. Then Pam surprised and honored me by including TMAS in her fantastic post, When Will I Grow Up and Read Adult Books?

I'm very excited to welcome Pam to my blog!


There are several things wrong and several things right with the YA book scene at the moment. For one I don't need all the parental hate all the time. Doesn't some teen out there actually like their parents?

I could also do without the love triangle all the time. I get tired of reading one girl with two cookie cutter guys vying for her undying teen love that we all know will last forever anyway right?

The boys in YA have become one dimensional. They are either evil or good, sexy or dorky with no real personality of their own. Just a checklist of stereotypes covered.

I want more action and adventure, I want more books I can recommend to teen boys. I want real love, not some weirdo thing with multiple boys lining up and down the block for our protagonist. Give me fire, friction, and real emotion.

I have a favorite book right now, it's PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow (who has a stripper pole in her office, I mean win right?). It focuses on the character who has a hard life, and an even harder quest. She doesn't fall in love, there are no boys hounding her, she kept my attention without all of that. Check it out!


Thanks, Pam!

Readers, are you tired of the typical YA conflicts? Love triangles? Parental hatred? One-dimensional characters? Are these staples of teen books easy ways to get the reader sucked into the story, or have they lost meaning? What kind of real emotional experience do you hunger for?

Comment to win real, awesome books! (US only, sorry, wonderful non-US people!)

This What YA Bloggers Want series is in honor of YALSA's Teen Read Week and National Book Month!


  1. Sadly, yes. I was at a writer's conference over the weekend and this subject came up many times during discussions. Writers, editors and readers especially have tired of these conflicts. Glad you brought this up!


  2. Nice. I like what Pam mentioned. It seems like there are love triangles in such a majority of YA. I, myself, don't find it annoying unless:

    a) The girl (protag. in most cases) is a complete idiot and isn't even worth all that attention.
    b) The girl chooses the "perfect" guy at the end, and I'll then be tempted to throw the book across the room.

    (à la Twilight, et al.)

    I believe there's still a lot of YA out there that offers adventure and action and all that good stuff.

    However, many of these are reliant on a "romance" between the protagonist and some random guy who is hot and perfect; who is devoid of any real personality besides being hot and perfect and totally hers for the taking. We see a lot of this in paranormal novels, though it is not just exclusive to that genre. Lots of authors pull it off well.

    ...and etc. Not entering, just thought I'd comment. ;)

  3. I agree about the flat guy characters...and the too perfect ones.

    I don't have to have romance and it doesn't have to be the main point of the book, but I certainly do like romance...different versions than the love triangle and "perfect love"...but less flat guy characters would help with that too.

  4. I absolutely HATE love triangles! It seems like there's so much of that nowadays in YA books. But, when there isn't a love triangle, it seems like the character's relationship with another person is so rushed! Why can't there just be a good action adventure book anymore? Why is there all of this sappy rushed teen romance?

    ako4eggs at comcast dot net

  5. I agree on the permeation of Love Triangles, too. It was hard enough for me to like ONE guy when I was in high school - 2 was unheard of back then.

    And YES PLEASE to action and adventure! The stories that make you flip from page to page, wondering what happens next, the stories that are completely immersive and light all senses on fire and have you holding your breath in anticipation. Please, please, please.

  6. Ahh...I absolutely love Pam! She's fantastic and I love her opinions on things. Spot on with the lack of strong leading boys in YA fiction. I've read a few in the recent past, The Replacement by Yovanoff having one of them, but they are few and far between. I'd love to see more! Great point!

  7. I'm so tired of love triangles. If I read another paranormal YA book with a love triangle I will throw up. I'd like some fresher YA relationships and characters who have flaws. i've noticed many Mary-Sue's lately.

  8. Great comments guys. I am starting to see a trend with the word paranormal. Maybe I need to read more outside of the genre for less stereotypical characters.

  9. I love action/ adventure YA. I think of John Green's Paper Towns and Libba Bray's Going Bovine. These books are full of twists and turns and are rather unpredictable. More road trips and mystery and craziness! That's what I want.

  10. I’m tired of high school. Life goes on past high school, I understand that teenagers go to high school, but I just wish that instead of the conflict revolving around the hierarchy of the teenage angst, the book could present the problem outside the hallowed halls of Thomas Jefferson, Bejamin Franklin or Theodore Roosevelt High.
    Party by Tom Leveen is a great example of how “high schoolers” can play out a plot outside of high school.
    I’m also exhausted from reading books where the main characters end up dating. Or saying those words that come to mean less in the YA world every time they are uttered. “I love you/” Like the cux of the whole novel depended on the one saying it to the other. I’m not sure Cathy and Heathcliff ever said it, and Mr.Darcy said it right, and so I ask where is the romance? I know that not everyone finds their soul mate as teenagers, but some people do, others might have grown up as best friends. Instead of the stakes being so high for “I love you” I would love for the book to revolve around forever, around true love, not fake dating.
    The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is my example as to how this works perfectly and comes across as realistic.
    No more cheerleaders. No more Jocks. I want to ban them!
    I’m exhausted by clichés. It’s a word I use (none too kindly) over at my blog. When something about the book is described as cliché, you can put money down that I didn’t like it.
    Also, I HATE, yep, caps, HATE, I did it again, all the paranormal retellings of the classics. Just stop, okay, get your own ideas, stop making Austen and Bronte turn over in their graves.
    Good topic, helped me vent!
    Gabrielle <3

  11. I'm loving all of these great comments. Thanks, Pam, for opening up a cool topic.

  12. Great suggestions on how to make stories and conflicts more interesting. I'm tired of some of the love triangles and the kids that are so gorgeous too.

  13. This discussion of non-beautiful boys makes me think of Laurie Halse Anderson's WINTERGIRLS. The boy, Elijah, is not at all attractive by description, and yet his actions are what drew me to him. By the end, I fully trusted him to do the right thing (or at least his version of the right thing).

    Hey, Pam, if you haven't read it, pick it up! Contemporary at its best! :-D

  14. I have read Wintergirls and it was my favorite read of last year. I named my son Elijah because I fell in love with the name! Don't tell anyone how lame I am :P

  15. Pam, I agree with you, and what drives me even more crazy about the hoards of boys that fall for the MC is that so often the MC (girl) isn't even anything special (or at least we're not told WHY she is). So many times I fall in love with a guy's personality/character traits but I can't for the life of me see what he finds attractive in the girl. It's like just because she's the POV, she's automatically supposed to be amazing. I don't get it!

    I'm with you about the action and adventure also! And I love a good mystery! Great post!

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  17. You are so right! I get so mad when authors go all out and say that teens don’t like their parents or get along with them. I’m a teen and I love my parents. I know MANY, MANY, friends who love their parents. Oh and is it a shocker that there aren’t as many love triangles in real life are there are in books? Honestly, the most love triangles I’ve heard about are in books…seriously. In high school, fifteen guys don't fall for one girl. We don't have CLIQUES for goodness sake! We really don't! And what happened to the good old mysteries or horrors for YA? I miss them and so do a lot of us teens.I just don't get why authors continue to write about these topics when we DON'T WANT TO READ ABOUT IT!

  18. I would like to see:

    more traditional/epic/quest type fantasies (such as Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken or StarCrossed by Elizabeth Bunce)

    Less love triangles, more love stories where there is only one potential love interest

    more historical fiction

    and I second the suggestion of books where the character's parents aren't either dead or hated! how about some books where the main character has a good relationship with his/her parents.