For this week’s top ten we’re looking at those things that we can’t stand in YA books. There are more, but Sandie and I narrowed the list down to just ten. We understand why authors rely on some of these tried and true tropes, but we also think they’re tired and wish we could quit reading about them, if not altogether, then certainly so often. Here are ten tropes we want to stop reading about quite so often in young adult lit.
1. Nice guys finishing last:
Why is it that so many YA books have a wonderful, sweet, funny, kind guy as the sidekick or best friend? In the meantime, the female protagonist is all into the “bad boy.” In real life, the kind, funny, awesome guys are the ones that you can count on not just as a friend, but as a romantic interest. It gets on my nerves, and I literally want to throw those books across the room. Open your eyes girls, “beta guys” are the best. -Diana
2. Badly developed love triangles: Now, I’m generally anti-love triangles, but every now and then a skilled author manages to convince me through circumstances and character development that a relationship is unhealthy or just “off” and that another person waiting in the wings is the right choice. But this is really rare and requires an author who knew this was where the story was heading to the beginning. What doesn’t work, in my humble opinion? Giving a character a personality transplant (all of a sudden she or he is a complete and utter arse with no regard for the other person) in order for readers to jump ship and join the new one. -Sandie
3. Whiny, self-absorbed protagonists:While I understand that teens can be self-absorbed, I get annoyed by those protagonists (mostly female) who only care about the way things affect themselves and don’t seem to be able to see how it affects others. Most of the time it has to do with the male love interest, but sometimes they don’t get the best friend or family member’s feelings. Whatever the case, it drives nuts. -Diana
4. Inexperienced girls with experienced guys: I’m fine with this idea in general, but it seems like *every* YA book with a romance has a hetero relationship where the girl is innocent or inexperienced and the guy is a secret Casanova. Even YA/NA crossover books dwell on this, and it’s sexist and dismisses teen guys who are virgins or less experienced than their girlfriends, not to mentions girls who might’ve had serious relationships before meeting their One True Thing (in YA terms, anyhow). -Sandie
via GIPHY5. Jerks with a heart of gold:
Now I know that people are rarely 100% good or 100% bad, but if a guy is a jerk for most of a book, it’s kind of hard to swallow the sudden “heart of gold.” Jerks are usually jerks and don’t normally have a kind heart deep down inside.I’m not saying that characters shouldn’t be complex or multi-layered, but sometimes it makes me want to quit reading YA books because it happens so often. -Diana
6. Inauthentic use of other languages: Kudos to authors for wanting to make their books diverse. But, if you decide to make a character speak a different language, then for the love of all that’s holy and sacred, please have a native speaker of that language/culture beta-read your manuscript. Otherwise, your book will go through all the stages of editing without anyone telling you that your Spanish or Chinese or French or Creole sounds like it was created via Google Translate. Que pena! -Sandie
7. Absent, oblivious, or overprotective parents: As a parent of two young adult children this really bugs me. It’s difficult navigating being a parent of adults. Most of us work hard to balance being there for them and giving them freedom and independence. So, it’s ridiculous how in YA literature parents tend to fall into the three categories of being absent, oblivious or overprotective. Most parents are involved, loving parents who try to guide their young adult children.-Diana
8. Stereotypical diverse characters as sidekicks: Again, props for trying to create a diverse set of characters in your book, but think really hard about writing the best friend as the saucy/hot Latin@, the shy and nerdy Asian kid, the sassy black girl, the flamboyant gay bestie who dishes about all of the cute boys. The show GLEE aside, this doesn’t usually translate well and makes readers uncomfortable, because most people aren’t an over-the-top embodiment of a stereotype. -Sandie
via GIPHY9. Over-representation of families with one child:
According to the last census, about 10% of families have one child, yet in YA literature the number is closer to 50%. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being an only child, but books with siblings are so enjoyable. The siblings usually add to the story. So I hope that more authors will try to write moer wonderful families with many siblings. -Diana
10. Food-based descriptions for race/ethnicity: Technically not a trope but more of a ubiquitous pet peeve! I understand the compulsion to call someone’s skin honey, mocha, chocolate, dulce de leche, caramel, coffee, brown sugar, etc. Olive-skinned gets a pass, because well, that’s a certain skin tone, but you wouldn’t call someone’s skin tone “dulce de leche,” right? This is cutesy and fetishizing and just lazy. Just learn your colors and then make sure to signify clearly whether the character is a POC, or readers WILL whitewash them. -Sandie
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My daughter is a big ONCE UPON A TIME fan, and she spent quite a bit of her spare time this summer streaming the first two seasons and telling me all about the various intricate plot lines and character relationships. Among her favorite stories was the Red tale, which she said was “exciting but also sad.” My daughter thought it was a good storyline, because it revealed how everyone has an inner beast they have trouble controlling and that occasionally when you’re pointing at others, you miss the truth about yourself. That’s pretty mature for an almost 11 year old right?
I went into reading the book knowing that Red’s backstory isn’t all sunshine and roses; she’s an orphan after all. She also makes her fair share of mistakes. But it’s obvious why someone so sheltered and overprotected (in her case, by Granny) would dream of leaving the Enchanted Forest and of life outside of her Granny’s strict grasp. And it’s natural that someone besieged by a “mean girl” would feel angry and even vengeful. That didn’t bother me, because there are mean girls all throughout fairy tales. Although there aren’t other crossover characters from the show present in the book, I knew my daughter would enjoy it, and I was relieved that it was accessible to younger YA readers, show fans, and fairy tale lovers alike.
ONCE UPON A TIME: RED’S UNTOLD TALE
by Wendy Toliver
Kingswell Teen, 416 pages | Sept. 22, 2015
Amazon ~ B&N ~ IndieBound
Red is 16 and lives with Granny in a cottage in the village, where boarding up the house and hiding during Wolfstime is a means of survival. Red help’s Granny with Granny’s baked good business, catering as well as door-to-door sales.
Red has a constant internal battle between her wild side and her strict, overprotective upbringing, and the issue of “control” as she discovers she has a hot temper when the “mean girls” push her too far. (“When we learn to control it, we needn’t fear it,” Rumpelstiltskin says in the series.) She has flashbacks to her 13th year when she received her cloak and the nickname “Red.”
She is plagued by nightmares that she doesn’t understand, but the “Once Upon a Time” fans will recognize them as her wolf side coming out. Red balances the difficult times with Granny at home and the girls at school with an emerging and satisfying romance with Peter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wendy Toliver is the award-winning author of four YA novels: The Secret Life of A Teenage Siren, Miss Match, Lifted, and Once Upon A Time: Red’s Untold Tale. She lives in the Utah mountains with three sons, two cats, two dogs, and one husband. She enjoys reading, hiking, wakeboarding, snowboarding, watching movies, sweet potato fries, Halloween, and daydreaming.
MORE FAIRY TALE 2.0 RETELLINGS
Follow along with hashtag #FairyTale2pt0 to discover giveaway opportunities for more twists on classic tales:
A WHOLE NEW WORLD by Liz Braswell (In stores now)
What if Aladdin had never found the lamp? This first book in the A Twisted Tale line will explore a dark and daring version of Disney’s Aladdin. When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish. To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war. What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.
A FROZEN HEART by Elizabeth Rudnick (In stores Oct. 6)
Told in alternating chapters from both Anna’s and Hans’ perspectives, A Frozen Heart takes a sophisticated look at events of Frozen, exploring the couple’s backstories, motivations, and doomed relationship.
In honor of fairy tale 2.0 we’re giving away a prize pack. Open to US addresses only. Prizes provided by Disney-Hyperion. To enter, leave a comment by 11:59 PM October 15th. For extra entries, follow us on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. Samples and prizing are provided by Disney-Hyperion. A winner will be randomly selected and contacted by email or social media. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to notification or another winner will be selected.
One (1) winner receives:
- Copy of Red’s Untold Tale;
- plus FAIRY TALE 2.0 tank, notepad, cosmetic pouch & pillow.
FTC Disclosure: Disney Hyperion provided Teen Lit Rocks with prizing and a review copy of the book for this campaign. No other compensation was received.
The post Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale Giveaway appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
Welcome to the belated September edition of the #YADiversityBookClub, a monthly feature we created in partnership with three other bloggers: Kristina at Gone Pecan, Lucy at The Reading Date, and Kristan at We Heart YA. This month we read debut author Anna-Marie McLemore
‘s magical-realism romance “The Weight of Fathers,” about a story as old as the Montagues and the Capulets, forbidden love. In this case, the star-crossed lovers are from rival circus families that caravan around California: Lace is a Paloma, a Mexican-American family that specializes in mermaid shows, and Cluck is a Corbeau, a French Romani family of former tightrope-walkers who perform in tall trees.
We’re hosting the book club discussion, and we hope that you’ll be prompted to put the book on your immediate TBR list; we promise you won’t regret it!
Many, many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending us all review copies of the book!
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS
by Anna-Marie McLemore
St. Martin’s Press, 320 pages | Sept. 15, 2015 | Amazon ~ B&N ~ IndieBound
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.
Below is an excerpt of the discussion we had about the book and its themes. We hope it encourages you to check out the book for yourself! Mild spoilers ahead.
Reading Date: What did you guys think of The Weight of Feathers? Quick thoughts in a nutshell?
We Heart YA: I thought the writing was really lovely. Took me in right away.
Reading Date: The writing stood out to me too. A dreamy, magical, story.
Teen Lit Rocks: I thought it was beautifully written, really well suited to magical realism.
Reading Date: I was so worried that I wouldn’t connect because of the fantasy and magical realism aspects but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes! The writing really sold it. I don’t like circus stories too much but this one worked for me because it was more character driven.
Teen Lit Rocks: Anna-Marie was recently involved in the Latino-themed #WNDBChat. She’s really fascinating.
Reading Date: I was reading that on her twitter today! I learned about the term Latinx. I need to read through that whole chat.
We Heart YA: Yeah and I’ve seen a couple of her posts about her trans husband, and I just thought, What a fascinating and inherently diverse family!
Teen Lit Rocks: Are there any LGBTQIA issues or themes in the book?
Reading Date: I was surprised that there weren’t any Lgbtqia issues in the book, but hopefully the author will delve into that in the future if she wants.
Teen Lit Rocks: Right, I wondered if I had missed something, but of course it’s not like diverse authors have to write about all diverse experiences I know she had to research Romani culture. And that the mermaid colors, finery is based on quinceañera costumes.
Reading Date: Yes, I feel like I’ve read blog topics about that. Authors should write what they feel comfortable with. I did like the multi cultural aspects of the book.
We Heart YA: Ohhh I can’t believe i didn’t put together the mermaid colors/costumes with the quinceañera stuff! I feel silly now.
Reading Date: Same here!
We Heart YA: Me too. It was kind of fun (and easy to keep track of) switching between Spanish and French headings and cultures
Teen Lit Rocks: Yes, and I loved all the adages/quotes.
Reading Date: I did look up a few words but mostly could figure out the Spanish and French through context. The quotes were a nice touch.What did you think of the third person alternating pov?
We Heart YA: I’ve always been partial to 3rd person POV. I remember hating 1st person when I first started reading YA, lol. I enjoy it now, but I still appreciate my first love, 3rd person, Especially when wielded well, like by Anna-Marie here, or Laini Taylor and Maggie Stiefvater, as other examples.
Reading Date: Agreed. It’s a nice change of pace. And funny you mention Laini Taylor- did this book remind you at all of Daughter of Smoke and Bone?
Teen Lit Rocks: I don’t mind it. I like the way Marie Rutkoski said it’s “close third person” so it feels almost first person-ish. Just the hot boy with wingsand of course the forbidden love.
We Heart YA: Haha yeah only in certain aspects, but not in overall experience or plot.
Teen Lit Rocks: I had just read a book called “the lightning queen” about a romani caravan that visits a Mexican town every year and the Romani girl becomes close to the mexican boy and they eventually fall in love, so that’s what I thought about too. What are the odds?
Reading Date: Very interesting! I haven’t read that one.
We Heart YA: What a coincidence!
What did you think of the two families? Did one of them have a worse situation?
Reading Date: Hmmm, not sure. They both had their struggles. Did you feel for one over the other?
We Heart YA: Oof… I had a harder time sympathizing with Cluck’s family, I guess, because they were often so hard on him.
Teen Lit Rocks: Yes, I agree with Kristan. Cluck’s family seemed harsher in some ways. Particularly the issues with his mom.
Reading Date: It was a sad situation. And on a superficial note I didn’t love that nickname!
We Heart YA: No, me either! both the names were a little odd for me lol
Teen Lit Rocks: I think she had his name before she even wrote the book.
Reading Date: I think I read that too – very unusual! Is there anything else that stood out for you about the book?Did you like the fantasy change of pace?
Teen Lit Rocks: I enjoyed the magical realism mixed with cultural misunderstanding and of course forbidden romance. I’m not always a fan of the tropebut she did a great job with it sometimes magical realism can feel forced and take you out of the story instead of bring you into more fully.
Reading Date: Light fantasy with the forbidden romance and strong characters and cultural aspects worked for me. Agreed about magical realism- sometimes that’s a tough sell for me.
We Heart YA: Totally agree. And I think a lot of this worked because the author let the story set the pacing, rather than forcing a “high octane” story. Everything unfolded in an organic way.
Interested in the book? Make sure to enter our book giveaway and read our Author Q&A with Anna-Marie McLemore at We Heart YA and The Reading Date’s feature “The Weight of Feathers Further Reading: Diverse Fantasy and Latin Heritage Month Recs.” Stay tuned at the end of October when we read “Don’t Fail Me Now” by Una LaMarche, the very first author we featured on the #YADBC.
This post fulfills our monthly participation in Reading Wishes & Rather Be Reading’s Dive Into Diversity Challenge.
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In honor of the supermoon lunar eclipse last night, we’re sharing quotes from some of our favorite “moon” books.
“Between Us and the Moon” by Rebecca Maizel
You are on the inside. Deep in your muscles. That’s you. The body is the extension of you. Only give someone your fingers, your skin, and toes if they deserve to touch your soul.
“Graffiti Moon” by Cath Crowley
Every time he looked at me I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In art class I’d watch him lean back and listen and I was nothing but zing and tingle. After a while, the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I had nothing in common with a sheddy like him, but a girl doesn’t think straight when she’s that close to electrocution.
“Maggot Moon” by Sally Gardner
It had struck me that the world was full of holes, holes which you could fall into, never to be seen again. I couldn’t understand the difference between disappearance and death. Both seemed the same to me, both left holes. Holes in your heart holes in your life.
“Moon Over Manifest” by Clare Vanderpool
If there is such a thing as a universal–and I wasn’t ready to throw all of mine out the window–it’s that there is power in a story. And if someone pays you such a kindness as to make up a tale so you’ll enjoy a gingersnap, you go along with that story and enjoy every last bite.
“The Moon and More” by Sarah Dessen
The truth was, there was no way everything could be the Best. Sometimes, when it came to events and people, it had to be okay to just be.
“New Moon” by Stephenie Maurer
“Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. …And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything.”
“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin
“She’s my friend,” the boy said simply. “That’s who she is and that’s enough for me.” As Minli looked at the buffalo boy, aglow with happiness against his poor surroundings, she saw it was enough for him. More than enough, as the smile that kept curling up on his face told her.
Photo by halfrain on Flickr via Creative Commons license
The post Monday Quotes: Moon Books appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
It’s our fourth blogging anniversary week, and we’re featuring posts and giveaways all week long. Today we’re reviewing a book a couple of us have been lucky enough to receive — I at BEA, and our contributor Keely through a giveaway. As big fans of Leigh Bardugo’s work, we couldn’t wait to share Keely’s excellent review with you. Scroll down below for our final TLR Anniversary Week Giveaway, which is a copy of SIX OF CROWS! –Sandie
SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt, 480 pages | Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015 Buy it on IndieBound | Amazon | B&N
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Maybe you’ve read Leigh Bardugo’s GRISHA TRILOGY and maybe you haven’t (you really should read it though – it is fantastic), but her universe – the Grishaverse – is one unlike any other currently in print and this book is worth every minute you’ll spend reading it.
SIX OF CROWS is a sweeping tale of intrigue with an epic high stakes heist at the core and six misfit outcasts who all play their part with exemplary detail. At its heart the book is a story of adventure that shifts through five of the outcasts as narrators allowing the reader to see each one from the inside while their stories move forward. Each character has their own story to tell and their own reason for being part of this crime and the beauty is that Bardugo lets the reader experience that first hand. The intricacy of a story told from five different viewpoints is hard to imagine and could so easily have become a clunky uninteresting read, but Bardugo pulls of this multi-narrator style brilliantly. In fact, she’ll leave you wishing she had let the sixth member narrate a portion.
As a reader I felt much swept up in the story. The pacing is spot on with a slow build as Bardugo lays the substantial groundwork of the five narrators and the sixth outcast. Any backstory the reader needs – especially if they are new to the Grishaverse – is addressed in such a way that it is not a total recap for those of us who read the first triology nor is it boring for newer readers. I felt like I almost got a better sense of who the characters were this time around especially as this story moves us out of Ravka and into a cast with more variety.
Ketterdam and the environs are so well portrayed that the setting could probably be considered a character in its own right – that is how masterful Bardugo is in painting the backdrop for this saga. You cannot help but feel like you are there yourself. I could almost smell, hear and see the cities as the characters moved through them. Masterful work on Bardugo’s part and a great tool to draw in and hold onto readers throughout the novel.
I will say that readers should keep in mind that this is a first in a new series – which means not everything is resolved at the end. Be prepared to be left wanting more! The story is populated by thieves – our main characters are not good guys in the traditional sense. They are flawed criminals and yet you will find yourself cheering relentlessly for their success.
Overall, this novel is a stand-out start to a second series. I was not sure Bardugo could get much better, but she has deepened her craft and spun a tale of a band of misfits that will leave you wanting more as soon as you put it down.
To enter this giveaway, just leave us a comment saying why you’d like to read SIX OF CROWS. The only caveat is that you must have a U.S. address and leave a valid email with your comment. We will pick the random winner on Sept. 25th and send out the book by street date, Sept. 29.
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