Dear YA fiction,
I love you. But I’ve been noticing lately that you’re having some problems upholding your image with the general public. You’re mocked, ridiculed, and people sneer at the very mention of your name.
I can’t help but feel that some of that is your fault. You play it safe with overdone cliches and all-too-familiar stereotypes. You follow the trend of whatever’s “new” and forsake the other genres within your realm. You try to appeal to the teenage population by making everything about teen rebellion and forbidden love, when there is much more to us than that. You stick to the same old reused plots and flat characters, and don’t even get me started on your obsession with love triangles.
I understand that many great books and writers have come from your shelves, but lately I have seen a decline in the morality and quality of your novels. It would be refreshing to read a book of yours that doesn’t think it needs to include swearing and inappropriate behavior in order to be successful. It’d be nice to see your characters get the love and respect they deserve, instead of being thrown into a story when they are only half-developed. It would be awesome if teens leave a story feeling inspired to do something great, instead of walking away with a glorified view of immoral behavior.
You could be so much more than the restrictions set on you by society, YA fiction. You could break the standards, the silence, the status quo. You could revolutionize the way people think. You could motivate the next generation into working to create a better world. You could create timeless stories and characters.
But you settle for being cheap. You settle for “okay”, when you could be “great”. You settle for a quick buck and a crappy movie deal when you could craft a story that people will come back to time and time again.
Not to say that you never succeed in weaving magical stories, of course. There are those rare gems among your shelves that have become close friends of mine – books that, although they do not fit into your self-made mold, YA – remember the true art of storytelling and what it has always been intended to be.
I beg you, YA, to become creative again. To stretch beyond the typical and the familiar and to craft something new and beautiful. To no longer fall into the same old, same old. To prove those who doubt you wrong. To make your name more than just an insult in the writing and reading world. To remember and embrace the magic of imagination.
I ask your writers to step out of their comfort zones, to take a risk and make something amazing. I know you can do it.
For now, YA fiction, you will still be known as the joke among books. People will still roll their eyes when a new YA book comes out. I will continue sighing in disappointment at the sad assortment of novels I have to choose from you. People will continue to make fun of you. They won’t take you seriously.
But there are still some of us who know what we want to accomplish through our storytelling. There are still those of us who love YA and will refuse to see it become nothing but a stereotyped laughingstock. There are those of us who will become the next generation of writers, the ones who will stay true to the art of storytelling.
And we will fight to keep YA writing alive.
Oh, YA fiction. Maybe someday you will be restored to greatness.
Until then, we must dig to find the good books that will keep YA literature alive.
I wish you all the best.
A Concerned and Passionate Reader