The Novels That Break the YA Clichés


With the success over the past decade of the likes of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging; Twilight; The Hunger Games and The Fault in our Stars, YA fiction has become one of the most outstanding and popular genres amongst book lovers. However, while reading over a handful of book blogging threads, many common conversations are of what readers seemingly have grown tired of, and have recommended for authors to avoid when writing in the future, especially in the dystopian (sci-fi) and fantasy genres. The themes turned clichés mentioned were;

-         A main character instantly falling in love, love triangles,  and/or dominating romance driving the plot

-         a teenage heterosexual girl as the main character who is also snarky, sarcastic and stubborn

-         a single parent and/or bad parenting

-         the story being stretched into making a trilogy; with the second book largely regarded as lesser exciting ‘fillers’

-         Perfect endings and ‘happily ever afters’

Also mentioned to avoid in the sci-fi and fantasy genre:

-         The main character as the ‘chosen one’

-         the protagonist as the cause and leader of a revolution against a totalitarian government

-         fleeing/escaping the ruling city during the final chapter of the book (and the outside world failing to meet expectations)

This is not to say that a writer should never use any of these themes, they can be successful within a good enjoyable book. Yet if you are looking for something that stands out as different and unusual consider picking up one of the following books, put your feet up and relax while reading.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler – a standalone contemporary book in the form of half a letter and half an illustrated journal told by the main character, Min. The letter is directed to her ex-boyfriend, Ed, as she goes through a box of items she collected throughout their relationship. Although Min writes to Ed, who already knows what has happened previously to end the relationship, the feeling of being out of the loop is made into fun intrigue as the reader follows Min’s thought process. A beautiful and honest read that makes romance real as it shows not only what has gone right, but what also can go wrong.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson – a standalone contemporary book told from the point of view of David, a boy wrongly bullied because of the assumed he is gay; and Leo, the new boy in school. In fact, David is in actuality transgender. Despite the single parent and bad parenting theme being exploited, this novel is still unique in many ways, for not only does it explore a very important topic, but also for the way it emphasises the importance of friendship and individuality.

Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - originally a standalone that has now been bought for a sequel. This book is a fantastic read very unlike any other fantasy book that has been released lately. Laia is a slave and Elias is an elite soldier: both trapped in a cruel and brutal world wishing one day for freedom. When they meet for the first time their destinies become forged together. A rare book rich in history, politics, magic, fighting and the supernatural, of which follows duel perspectives, that is also not overly engrossed in romance but mainly focuses on the war and slavery that occupies daily life of the characters we begin to fall for.

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