Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish wherein each week bloggers list out their Top Ten. As heterogenous as Young Adult can be in terms of subject material, there are still things I feel we could do more with. Here are things, according to me, that I wish YA had more of:
While in recent years, there have been efforts to make YA more inclusive and diverse, at this stage I still feel we are more like to have diversity in terms or race or sexual orientation, than with respect to neurological status. Most books feature neuro-typical characters as main as well as secondary characters, and there are not many books featuring characters with neuro-atypical characteristics.
Another aspect of diversity I find is when there are characters that are diverse only on one dimension. It is so difficult to imagine a queer disabled POC character? Do you know how many readers are out there who have never identified with a character in books, because there just aren’t any?
I specifically raise this complaint with fantasy books – like, you can have dragons but not a character with diversity that also has intersectionality?
While I am not averse to authors writing diverse characters from another culture, I can say firsthand that I have been disappointed by authors trying to write stories in my culture. India is a cultural melting pot, and while racially we seem to be homogeneous and monolithic, there are so many aspects that a non-Indian author wouldn’t get. And let’s not even get me started on the cringe-inducing Google translations of phrases into Hindi. Also, speaking of Hindi, do you know that there are languages in India BESIDES HINDI? Like, it is not even the official language of the country, and it is not even necessary that people everywhere in India speak Hindi!
Non-warrior type strong female characters
Most strong female characters I see in books are a type of warrior. You know, the leader kind, who knows the right way and has a following around her? Nothing wrong with them, but can we see more girls who get things DONE with more than just a show of strength, who are also cunning, who are also morally grey?
Emphasis on friendships
I have often gone off in my reviews about books that place too much emphasis on romantic relationships. But YA, seeing as it is written for teens, needs to also place emphasis on strong friendships. The idea that a soulmate has to be something romantic is one I have never wholly agreed with, as well as the idea that a person needs to have fulfilling romantic relationship to be meaningful. It is a disservice to aro teens everywhere to shove these kinds of stories over and over again.
Be it fantasy or science fiction, a story depends immensely on the world and the canon you build around it. Attention to detail gives the idea that the author spent effort researching stuff and it shows. I appreciate good world set-ups, with unique problems and unique cultures. And it doesn’t even have to be a whole world – you can make an urban fantasy seem like high fantasy if you build the world enough!
We are very familiar with most of the mythology-based stories that are the backbone of a lot of books these days, the primary one being Greek. Nordic and Celtic mythology stories are also quite frequent. But when will I see stories about East-Asian mythologies, or ones from Mayan folklore? Give me more unique stories!
Historical fiction set in obscure eras
I truly feel like there is an overproduction of historical fiction set in Europe from the Renaissance era to Victorian eras. I would like to see stories set in different times and different parts of the world. There are so many interesting parts in history to keep going just to Europe!
This is sort of a tightrope style – to write so beautifully that you can’t help but be mesmerized but with enough attention to plot so as not to get lost in details. Few authors can place layers onto plots, or create scenes that call back other scenes through a series, or bring a circularity to plot. It is difficult to explain this concept, of a plot so well-written you can’t help but imagine it being planned and written all at the same time.
I can’t tell you how much I would love alternate universe stories, which are sort of a staple in fanfiction to become more mainstream in YA publishing!