Y is for: YA and my problems with it

YA or Young Adult literature is incredibly popular right now. Like any type of literature it covers many genres including contemporary, dystopian, fantasy, romance and many more. All YA books put a big focus on the plot, which is often fast moving, and the characters rather on the language.

This is great and sometimes a plot driven book is just what I want and need to get me reading in amongst my university work.

However I’ve sometimes been a little annoyed with the way some YA books are written. Now this is a bit of a generalisation though I will draw on two specific examples, one from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth so spoilers for those two books.

The main thing is that some plot points or potential plot twists seem to be blatantly obvious to me. I don’t know if this is because I am 22 (so in some ways you could say I am a young adult) when the target audiences are teenagers, so theoretically I have read more and am used to the typical genre tropes or narrative arcs so can see where something is going. But at the same time it sometimes feels like the author is being slightly insulting to its audiences (and sometimes its characters) by making something so obvious.

So Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The whole trilogy is from Katniss’s point of view so you obviously get information and her thoughts about the things that are important to her – fair enough. But at the same time – how dense is she?! I refer to the lead up to her return to the arena, where she meets refugees who have the mockingjay symbol (Katniss’s symbol) on some bread. Katniss thinks this is a bit weird but doesn’t think much of it. Katniss then meets head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee who happens to let her see that his pocket watch contains the image of the mockingjay. Again, Katniss is confused but doesn’t think of the possible meanings of this. In a sense this is understandable because like I said, she is very focussed on the things that matter to her – mainly her loved ones. But at the same time I was growing ever so frustrated with her – the mockingjay is the symbol of the rebellion, you are the mockingjay, Heavensbee has the mockingjay symbol on his watch ergo he is on your side! Katniss’s lack of awareness really did grate on me and I have to say I’m glad they made her seem more aware of her situation in the movie.

Now Divergent by Veronica Roth. This is a very small, simple thing. In the first few chapters you hear about a boy called Tobias who transferred from Abnegation for Dauntless. That’s all that said but then later Tris meets Four and straight away, I’m not even sure what made me so convinced so quickly but, I knew that Four was really Tobias. It turned out I was right. Perhaps it was the fact that it kept hinting that Four wasn’t like the other Dauntless leaders, or that really in the grand scheme on novels – there’s rarely any coincidences.

Like I said these are just two examples and there’s no way I have read every single YA novel to see if there’s always plot points that I find frustratingly obvious. That being said, reading books like Catching Fire and Divergent (I honestly do like these books a lot by the way) makes me hesitant to try other YA series that are incredibly popular in case I get annoyed when I can see a plot point coming a mile off. I don’t know if it’s an age thing or a how-it’s-written thing. Anyone else sometimes have this problem?

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3 comments

  1. You know I get annoyed at YA sometimes too. I prefer my YA to be either just really really well written – e.g. Cassandra Clare, or just semi-trashy fun fast fiction – e.g. Ghost and the Goth series. I’m trying to write something in-between. A little fun fast fiction, but without assuming that my readers are slightly moronic! Loved your thoughts. x

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