What's missing in YA? Last week the discussion was on characters, the week before on settings. This week I thought I'd do the broader topic of breaking stereotypes. What stereotypes would you like to see thoroughly crushed in YA novels?
Here are a few I've thought up:
- The girl-must-be-shorter-than-the-guy stereotype. Seriously. I know I mentioned last week that I'd like to see more books where the female protagonist is tall, but this is a related point that is equally annoying. (Trust me, when you're taller than most of the population, guys that are even taller than you are few and far between.) I particularly liked the fact that in Anna and the French Kiss, Étienne is shorter than Anna, and yet it doesn't undermine his self-confidence and really isn't a focal point of the novel at all.
- The religion-and-race-go-hand-in-hand stereotype. I'd like to see some books about characters who, for instance, are Caucasian and Muslim. Or are Asian and Christian. African and Buddhist. We have certain immediate associations of race and religion, and while of course these have a foundation, they are still stereotypes. It would be fantastic to see some YA novels that push the envelope on this one.
- The "ordinary"-protagonist-discovers-unsurpassed-hidden-magic-powers stereotype. This one gets me all the time in YA fantasy. The boy or girl thinks they are totally average, or maybe even a bit of a weakling. Then they get some help from a kind, elderly mentor type, go on a quest, and on the way discover they have magical talent that absolutely no one else in their world has, and they are the only one who can defeat the evil that is stirring in the east. (Okay, I stole that last bit from Lord of the Rings.) How about an ordinary protagonist who really is totally ordinary? Or, okay, let's say they have magical powers, but they've known about them all along, and they aren't any more special than their brothers and sisters? This one is even more frustrating if they discover their hidden talents RIGHT when they are absolutely convinced they are going to die. Convenient much?
|Harry Potter is excluded from this, because he is awesome. But there are some pretty poor HP wanna-bes out there...|
|Make up your mind, Bella.|
So, what do you think is missing in terms of breaking stereotypes? Which do you think need to be chipped away at some more?
Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day to all of my readers! Eat lots of chocolate today :)