I used to be an avid reader of Young Adult (YA) fiction. I loved coming of age stories and authors like Melina Marchetta and Sarah Dessen and then it happened. Twilight was released and it was the best young adult vampire novel of ALL TIME! Or so all the hype at the time of its release would have you believe. I decided to see what all this was about and borrowed it from the library, only to find it was poorly written (“I looked into his onyx eyes!” x 50 million) and redefined what vampires were in a way I didn’t agree with and at the same time romanticised them. I didn’t have a problem when Buffy did this (for the most part) but then Joss Whedon never made his vampires sparkle.
To me this is the turning point for YA fiction from something people could relate to into poorly written fiction with teenaged characters that sound nothing like teenagers and with added guardian angels, ghosts (friendly, lovely soul mate types obviously), vampires and werewolves. It essentially turned the genre upsidedown, shook it a few times, wiped its memory and let it forget that it used to be good.
For a while I thought that I might have just grown out of the genre. As someone in her early 30’s I’m not exactly the target audience and maybe it just isn’t for me any more. So for a while I tried other genres to see if maybe I was into just ‘fiction’ now as opposed to ‘Young Adult Fiction’ but I didn’t really like that either. I didn’t care for ‘chick lit’ about recent divorcees with scummy ex-husbands, who think they’ll never love again until some new guy who they hate but then love comes along. I didn’t care for hardcore scifi or fantasy, romance or historical fiction. I mostly just wanted my YA back.
I started carefully picking books, checking reviews and seeing what else the author wrote in hopes of finding good books and I started to. I have read some great YA fiction in the last year or so but then it happened.. I read “18 Things” (I considered not linking it because I don’t recommend it to anyone) which claims to just be a book about a girl who helplessly watched her best friend die and, after a suicide attempt, her therapist gives her a project of creating a list of 18 things to do before her 18th birthday. It was a good idea but, little did I know, the author referred to herself as a paranormal YA fiction writer and I was in for the worst paranormal fiction twist I’ve ever read. It wasn’t just bad, it was terrible!
It made me remember my frustration and rage over my genre being taken over by sub par authors. Maybe one day we’ll live in a time when YA fiction isn’t thought of as a joke and the excellent authors will come out and shine and excite us with their stories once more.
Until then, I’d love to hear everyones recommendations for books, I’m not against ALL books that have supernatural or paranormal elements as long as they’re well written.