My Bookish Pet Peeves in YA fiction

I’ve done a lot of serious posts lately (on mental illness, the Thirteen Reasons Why controversy, whitewashing, etc.) so I thought I’d switch it up and do a fun post. Today I’m talking about My Bookish Pet Peeves in YA fiction. Disclaimer: these are my personal pet peeves, which means you might not agree with any of these things that personally annoy me, and that’s totally fine. In fact, let me know in the comment section what your pet peeves are. It’ll be fun!

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1. Books with one-word titles

I can’t really put my finger on why this is a pet peeve. I think it’s because it was a trend a couple of years ago. Like, every YA book had to have a one-world title. Don’t believe me? Here a just a few: Twilight, Divergent, Uglies, Cinder, Matched, Fallen … It didn’t help that I didn’t like any of those books, which is probably why I started associating one-word titles with bad books. I know that’s terrible because there are plenty of really good books and classics that have one-word titles (1984, Dracula, Emma, Fangirl … ) so the title by no means reflects the quality of the book, but it still bothers me.

2. Sequels

No one likes finishing a book you love to pieces. No one. You want it to go on and on and on and on until the end of days so you can grow up and grow old while reading about your favourite characters’ adventures and all the trouble they get into. I mean, who didn’t want to read about oh, I don’t know, Harry Potter’s adult life? His kids’ lives? Heck, why not Dumbledore’s childhood? Seriously, us Potterheads would read anything even vaguely connected to the Harry Potter Universe.

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BUT there’s one problem: if you (the author) decide to do a sequel FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, give us a decent story. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a sequel where literally nothing happens. Or worse: you get a sequel that screws up the original characters and you’re like: “NO, NO, NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”. Ugh. It’s the absolute worst because it taints the memory of the first book which you loved but now you’re not sure about because the sequel kind of ruined the whole thing.

3. MC’s who’re good at everything

Don’t you hate it when an MC discovers they have powers / are the chosen one / are destined to overthrow the government / are training to be an assassin and they don’t struggle at all? And did I mention they also get good grades, play an instrument, maintain a social life, have time to worry about the love triangle they’re caught up in and they’re rescuing stray dogs left and right? Okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the point. It’s not realistic for them to be good at everything they do.

4. The MC’s family is not around / abusive / dead

Look, I get it. A big part of being a teenager is figuring out your identity and dealing with problems…preferably without parental supervision. But that doesn’t mean you have to traumatize your MC by giving them parents who’re dead, abusive or who don’t care about them. Yes, I’m aware there are teenagers for whom this (unfortunately) is realistic, but that’s not nearly the case for every single teenager. Which means not every YA character should have a screwed up family. Long live healthy family relationships!

5. Obligatory romance

I love my romance just as much as the next person, but please don’t throw in a romance because you feel like you have to because it will appeal to your audience. It feels forced most of the time and, to be honest, it’s also really unrealistic. How do all these heroes and heroines have the time and energy to worry about who likes whom when they’re supposed to saving the world or stop the evil overlord for killing their family? Priorities. Please.

6. Endless and repetitive character descriptions

I like short, basic descriptions that are not repeated every two pages. If you tell me the MC’s love interest has eyes the colour of the ocean on an overcast day just once, I get the picture. You don’t have to tell me three times in two pages. Seriously.

7. No diversity

This one speaks for itself. We live in a diverse world. People come in all shapes and sizes, they’re not all straight and they don’t share the same background / ancestry and skin colour. I can’t stand a contemporary YA book that features no diversity whatsoever. It’s unrealistic, plain and simple.

8. Bad representation

This ties in with the previous one. If you’re including diverse characters (which you should) please do research. Talk to people with the same experience, don’t revert to stereotypes and always be respectful. Basically, use common sense.

9. Deus Ex Machina

Don’t you hate it when your characters are in big the-world-is-going-to-end-and-everyone-is-going-to-die trouble and you know they’re not all going to get out alive until suddenly, out of nowhere, they’re saved by a character that showed up once 200 pages ago? That’s just one example of a Deus Ex Machina ending but I hate all of them. It’s a sign of poor writing.

10. “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.”

Can we agree this phrase is cliché and therefore should never be used again? Or at least not in the next ten years? Thank you.

14 thoughts on “My Bookish Pet Peeves in YA fiction

  1. Hahaha I LOVED reading this post so, so much! I kind of have a love/hate relationship with sequels because as excited as I can be getting back into a world again, I’m always so nervous it just won’t have the same feeling the first book had. Also the MC good at everything, erm, noooooooo that’s not okay ahah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. FYI, I had to click on the “leave a comment” in the email that I get for your posts, the one on the homepage came up with a “not found” error.

    I agree with the one word titles. It’s become cliché and annoying. I actually did like Divergent, but I’m still done with the one word titles. Enough already.

    My biggest pet peeve in reading is continuity errors in series. Some of them, I can be okay with, especially if the series has been written over many years. I have one series where one of the characters has been born in 3 different years (1212, 1213, 1214), but those errors were made about 5-10 years apart. I can live with that. But continuity errors that occur in books that come out 6 months apart OR within the same book, those seriously get to me. To me it shows a lack of editing and a lack of decision making on the author’s part. I’ve heard from an author who said sometimes it’s because they’re trying to churn out books on a deadline, but it’s makes me mad. I had one series where within 5 pages the diner had gone between Pete owning it and Bob owning it about 4 times. Grrrr.

    I don’t like love triangles either. It’s okay for one book or maybe two, but after that I get annoyed with it. Just pick one, dammit. It annoys me even more when the author brings in a 3rd character who we might have met back in book 7 but haven’t heard from him again and now we’re in book 17 or 18 and suddenly he’s the answer? I actually stopped reading that series at that point.

    Diversity for me is based on a couple different things.
    1) It depends on the type of book I’m reading. For example, the same author who made the errors 5-10 years apart writes time travel novels that go between modern day Scotland/England and Scotland/England in the 13th/14th/15th century. I’m okay if there’s not a lot of diversity in those because in reality, particularly in Medieval times there wasn’t a lot of diversity, and while there IS in modern day England/Scotland, I still get it if there’s not a lot in that book.
    2) Is the diversity realistic or is it put into the book just so the author can say that it’s a diverse book? I recently read a picture book that had three children in it at the beach. One was a white girl with red hair, one was a black boy and one was an Asian boy. The diversity just felt forced in that one. It was like the author thought “Oh, I need to be diverse so I’m going to make them each a different race” instead of it being more natural/realistic like black classmates or an Asian neighbor.

    Like

    • First of all, thank you for taking the time to write this comment 🙂

      Second, I don’t know what went wrong with the comment section on the homepage. Other people have commented and haven’t reported any problems. Hopefully, it’s just a glitch.

      Third, I agree with a lot of things you’ve said. I’m really bad at noticing continuity errors though. I blame my faulty memory for that. Especially when it comes to numbers and dates. But I see what you mean. If it happens in the space of one book (or even a couple of pages), I’d probably notice it too and I would get frustrated because, like you said, that’s an error on their (editor, author) part. Since I’m really bad at remembering dates, I always keep a Google Sheet with all the dates and even descriptions (for characters) I mention in the book. That way, if I forget, I can just check the document.

      Ugh. I hate love triangles too. I’ve actually never read one where it’s not completely obvious which one he / she should or is going to choose. I don’t know. For me, there’s no suspense because I already know who’s going to be the lucky one and I don’t have the patience to read through “the drama” if you will.

      You’re right about the diversity aspect. Sometimes I also notice that authors are just putting diverse characters in there because they feel like they have to or because it’s now become a “trend”. These are usually the authors that fall into stereotypes. Which is why accurate representation is so important. And if they can’t do it, I’d rather have them not do it instead of doing it wrong, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE one-word titles! 😄 You can get so creative with them, I think. And AAGHHH I have a love/hate relationship with sequels — you’re just like AGH NEXT BOOK TO THIS AMAZING BOOK YAAAAAAY and then you’re disappointed. Or you’re met with an equally (if not more) amazing sequel, WHICH NEEDS TO HAPPEN MORE OFTEN. 😄 And uuuuugh I’m sorry to say this but if you’re white/straight/middle- or upper-class WE DON’T REALLY CARE. More diversity please. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YES TO ALL OF THESE. Obligatory romance and instalove are two of my biggest pet peeves, and no / inaccurate diversity is irritating as well. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. YES TO EVERYTHING! Especially MCs who are good at everything. I’m so tired of the chosen one trope in particular that it’s not even funny. I read a lot of fantasy and I would much rather have a character who has to train to master their powers or who makes the choices for themselves. I mean throw in a few chapters about their training, I don’t mind. And I’m completely with you on family, romance, no diversity, and bad representation as well. Great post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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