So you guys know that I LOVE YA. I live and breathe those hormone filled, perfectly tormented souls who feel everything three times as hard as the rest of the world, and I know I always will.
But the thing is, as a YA reader, I have always been a teenager reading about teenagers.
Now, I’m 24 years of age and I have to face the facts that I am DOING THE ADULTING THING. WHICH IS WEIRD. I still consider myself a ‘young adult’, as I kind of feel this bracket continues to about the age of 25, (wait a minute, that’s only a year away, gulp) but I’ve certainly grown older and wiser, my views have expanded, and my book tastes have evolved.
I feel so incredibly lucky to be living in a time where I have access to talented YA authors whose stories have mass appeal. YA is not just for teenagers folks, it’s for everyone, and I will defend that to the depts of Mordor.
But now that I’m older, I do sometimes come across tropes/storylines, or certain scenes in YA books that make me feel, well, kinda old.*
*Using the word ‘old’ with a wide scope here obviously, by old I mean ‘adult’. Still got a while til’ I find me some grey hairs!
Although I guess you could say that having searched for Horcruxes, fallen for Fae Princes, and taken down corrupt dystopian governments in such a small space of time, that is bound to age a gal!
So what do I do about this crisis? Discuss it with you guys, obviously! Below, I’ve listed the top 5 things in YA that are guaranteed to make me feel ‘old’ in the hopes that you can tell me I’m not alone!
1. When I start siding more with the adults over the teen characters
This really freaked me out the first time it happened. You know how our protagonists are always getting into some kind of trouble? Whether its boy trouble, breaking the law trouble, or must collect 5 artifacts, do the hokey pokey and read some weird latin to prevent the end of the world from a big bad evil trouble? Well, when this happened, I always used to be on the teen protagonist’s side. OBVIOUSLY, there’s nothing they could have done to prevent their own hardships…. except, oh wait, if only they’d listened to their mentor when they said not to pick up that glowing ancient artifact, and paid attention when their mum said the boy with the dark smoldering eyes was trouble in chapter 10! NO SYMPATHY.
2. When the protagonist having a relationship with their teacher/instructor/mentor equivalent is hella creepy, NOT CUTE.
*I’m looking at you Vampire Academy*
I’ve never been the biggest fan of this trope, but it just gets creepier and creepier. When I was younger, I used to be able to overlook some problematic romantic pairings (such as huge age gaps or teachers falling for students) if an author wrote some gripping or satisfyingly good smutty scenes that made me ship the characters. Now, I can’t overlook it at all. I CANNOT EXPRESS how psychologically messed up it is for an adult teacher/tutor/mentor to fall for their student. When someone is in a position of authority and there to guide and support, you DO NOT cross that line. Major alarm bells! I now actively avoid novels that mention these kinds of relationships in the burb because I know it will ruin the book for me. Just nope. Nooooppppeee.
3. When the teens knowing more than the adults starts to seem less believable.
So we all know its an extremely common YA trope that the teens are normally the first to solve the big mystery, unearth the conspiracy theory, or uncover a plan to start the apocalypse while the adults remain totally oblivious – Harry Potter, the Divergent series and The Mortal Instruments are a few popular examples that consistently use this trope. Additionally, when the teens DO try to tell an adult, they completely dismiss them!
When I was younger, I wouldn’t even blink at this because OBVIOUSLY, ADULTS ARE DUMB AND KIDS SHOULD RULE THE WORLD BECAUSE THEY KNOW SO MUCH MORE.
Not, I’m just like are y’all for real? There is no way an adult wouldn’t take a life or death situation seriously, whether they believe it’s for realskies or not. (They may think you need to be committed if you start talking about vampires or demons sure, but they would still take it seriously). This has become such an unrealistic plot point for me, and I guess it links in with point one where I once again find myself siding more with the adults!
4. When the characters are getting hot and heavy and my brain is just screaming PRACTICE SAFE SEX DAMN YOU
Have you ever noticed how little YA mentions practicing safe sex? When I was younger, this wasn’t something I even thought about, I would just get completely wrapped up in the story and the emotions, and be ecstatic that my SHIP HAD FINALLY SAILED. However, in YA authors will often skip over discussing the serious side of sex, and (especially in fantasy YA), these scenes often occur spur of the moment in the middle of nowhere where protection is unlikely to be available!
So now, the characters will often be having their special moment and I’m like, that’s cool, EXCEPT YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A FOREST WITH NO FOOD OR WATER AND I AM CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR WELFARE.
Ah, being a responsible adult.
5. When the protagonist is all ungrateful to their parents
Now this one just really bugs me. It is natural for teens to be unappreciative of their parents once in a while, it just wouldn’t be a YA book without a little angst. But wow some of these characters take it to the extreme!
Again, this is something that never used to bother me, but now, when a character decides they will refuse to talk to their parents for a month because the parent told a little white lie to protect their child from death, pain and impending doom and the character gets in a hissy fit about it, I want to reach into the book and shake them! YOU HAVE PARENTS WHO ACTUALLY CARE IF YOU LIVE OR DIE, THIS IS A GOOD THING AND YOU ARE LUCKY, FORGIVE THEM.
So I guess this post means I’m turning into a responsible adult? And I’m kind of not sure whether I should be happy or concerned about this?! *CRIES AND LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY AT THE SAME TIME*. Although I clearly still love Caps Lock and exclamation marks, so that’s a good sign, right?