I Am Overly Opinionated About YA Lit: Part 1

Possibly this is all just a self-indulgent annoyed rant, but it’s something I need to get off my chest in regards to YA lit and criticisms it often faces by people who say they love it.

Time and again I see people bash a book because the main character does something stupid or acts selfishly or is otherwise unlikeable. Somehow, this means the author is stupid and terrible and should be insulted.

And, look, sometimes I get it. I hate books where characters act terrible and it is painfully transparent that they act terrible only because the author is hoping for the words ‘gritty realism’ to be used in reviews. I also hate when authors make characters act so dumb it’s genuinely unbelievable.

(I used to watch Pretty Little Liars, and one thing that always drove me up a wall was how the characters would find evidence that could help them, and then leave the laptop at home or drop the bracelet in the auto-flush toilet and COME ON GIRLS THIS HAS HAPPENED SO MANY TIMES YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS.)

It’s me, caring way too much about the way the characters in Pretty Little Liars are handling things.

However, at the end of the day, it’s completely believable for teenaged characters to do or say stupid, selfish things. It’s entirely believable for teenaged characters to be horribly unlikeable without realizing it. This is no doubt going to sound like An Old Person thing to say (I am only 23, so I am by no means An Old Person.) but sometimes teenagers do stupid stuff. Because, you know, they’re teenagers.

I was a fairly responsible teen growing up, but I still did some stupid stuff. Maybe not stupid to the point of putting myself or others in danger, but still stupid. Not to be fake deep, but that’s…part of growing up. It’s impossible to get everything right the first time around. So, inevitably, people are going to mess up. Fiction doesn’t feel real if the characters never make mistakes.

The point I guess I am trying to get to is that these criticisms often seem to assume that the author doesn’t understand how bad something is, and I am left wondering why the reviewer thinks the author included that part in the book. I’m not saying everyone ever has to be okay with stuff like this, I’m just saying that I think sometimes people forget to consider why the author included something.

Fiction, from my experience, is a balancing act between realism and fantasy — you want the story to feel real, but you don’t want it to be so real that it’s boring. It’s a tough line, and it’s very easy to underestimate how tough it is when you’re reading the finished product.

(Also, wow, I haven’t posted in a while. I’m gonna try and be better at that.)

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Hannah’s story.