Discussion Post · Fantasy · Thoughts · Thoughts & Opinions · YA fantasy

MY PROBLEMS WITH YA FANTASY

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Before I go on my rant, I need to people to know these are my opinions. I’m in no way trying to bash authors for what they do. I’m just frustrated at the way fantasy is marketed in YA.

As most of you know, I’m not really into romance. I know “What a way to beat a dead horse”. I promise you there is a reason why I’m bring this up again. It will all be explained in this post. Just give me a minute to get my thoughts straight.

Alright, I should start off by saying that I had the privilege of reading some 2016 YA fantasy books that aren’t out yet and that I’m fucking lucky that I had the chance to do. Also, I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart as a reader and a book blogger. With that being said, I was sorely disappointed in the majority of those books that I’ve read.

Here’s the thing, if you’re going to say that you’re “fantasy”, then I need you to be FANTASY. Not some damn Hallmark/ Lifetime romantic movie. That’s not what I was excepting when I read that brilliant and captivating synopsis. As a read I feel duped and deceived. False advertisement at its finest. Yet I get it. Somewhere, someone assumed that all girls (and some guys) want and think about romance and who is the next OTP (One True Pair). Newsflash, not all of us do. There are some that like the action and adventure a tad bit more. With a dash of romance sprinkle in.

So here is what I need from YA Fantasy

1)      Less romance and more adventure. There’s nothing wrong with romance. I just don’t want it to take up 90% of the damn book. No I want to see the villain plotting his/her revenge, while causing havoc and despair. I want to see the band of heroes go through the trials and tribulations as they figure out a way to make the world better for all humanity and magical creatures. So bring on the swash buckling pirates and the (real) assassins and fairies and the wizards. I want it all.

2)      I want darkness. Nothing irks me more is when a fantasy is a little too happy and a little too fluffy. Unless you’re middle grade and younger Imma need you to step your game up. Become that page turner I know you were meant to be. I need the intensity and that edge of your seat feeling that keeps you up all night. Wondering what the hell is going to happen next.

3)      World-building. I can’t stress this enough. What is fantasy without the world building? Just another random book. The reason why I love fantasy is because it takes me away from my reality and sends me to a magical place and time. I’m not saying you need to be overly descriptive but give me enough where I can form the pictures to match the word. Captivate me with your creativeness and imagination. Make me believe that this could possible exist if only in my mind.

4)      Stop rehashing the same old plot over and over again. It’s like once something is popular and a hit in the YA category all the other authors want to jump on the bandwagon. Please stop. If I read one or two about time-traveling or a Snow White retelling I don’t need to read 24 more books with the same story and plot. How many times to I need to read about the long lost princess needing to save her kingdom from the wicked witch/stepmother? Yawn

5)      Don’t be afraid of a little blood and gory. Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty. What I mean by that is that sometimes in YA the fantasy is a little PG for my taste. I’m not talking about making x-rated sex scenes or anything overtly violence because yes this is still marketed to teenagers but I would like to see more action. Yes some people are bound to get kill. It bound to get violent. Most often than not that is what happens in high fantasy. It’s not the 17th century. No need to protect my virtue from the sins of society. I can handle it.

6)      Last but not least take a risk. Don’t fall into the dread clichés that seem to run rampant in YA. Enough of the special snowflake guys and girl. Enough of the obsessive romance plot. Can we, non-romantic types get a book where….wait for it……romance is not even a factor? Oh how I dream. Or can we get the book where the girl doesn’t need the guy to stand on her own two feet. Like her whole existence doesn’t rely on her male counterpart. Or maybe…..just maybe can we get some LGBTQIA type fantasy. I would so buy up your books. And I don’t mean you the author is just throwing some gay secondary characters in the book. No I want a book where the lead is Gay or a Lesbian and they have to save their kingdom. There are teenagers and adult that would like to see that perspective. So don’t be afraid. Go against the “norm” and write that book. I need that book. I want that book.

There you have it my thoughts on YA fantasy. Trust there will be more things that bug me and aggravate me to no end and I will mostly likely write another post. But for now these 6 bullet points are what really grind my gears.

So tell me what you think. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic of discussion

As always thank you for stopping by.

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13 thoughts on “MY PROBLEMS WITH YA FANTASY

  1. I stopped reading a lot of American Urban Fantasy for this exact reason. I found that British Fantasy really seemed to focus more on the action and less on the romance and I really appreciated that. British Fantasy also tried to be really different in its approach to characters and magical systems. I stopped reading YA fiction a long time ago because I didn’t have the time, but when I was reading them, I was able to find a few books that didn’t try to push a lot of romance at me.

    I’ve just decided to be mean, and judge books by their covers, at this point. If it has an image of a woman, who seems to be contemplating violence, on the cover, I’m not going to read it. Chances are, its really a romance novel, in disguise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to agree with the kick ass heroine on the book cover. Most often than not it a romance filled book that has little to no fantasy within the pages.

      I will definitely have to check out some British Fantasy. If you have any recommendations I would love to hear.

      Like

      1. Oh yeah! I have recs. Mieville’s King Rat is how I got started. Then I moved on to Neil Gaiman’s urban fantasy works, like Neverland. Ben Aaronovitch is cool, with a black male protagonist, romance is present but kept to a minimum, as he’s a cop. I love Kate Griffin’s Magicals Anonymous and Matthew Swift series, which are a little more YA, adjacent. Also Mike Carey’s Felix Castor series is very very dark urban fantasy. It’s not really for teens, as its very dark, but it’s accessible.

        There are a few American writers that I like. Kat Richardson is cool. R.S. Belcher’s books are cool, especially Nightwise, and his newest book called Brotherhood of the Wheel, which aren’t really YA, but accessible.. I liked Clive Barker’s Nightbreed anthology, which was released last year. Plenty of young adults in that one.

        I’m currently reading some historical urban fantasy, which are not YA, but fit the criteria. Like Black City Saints, which is set in 1930s Chicago, and Butcher’s Road by Lee Thomas, which is set during prohibition, with a gay protagonist. It has a gay relationship in it, but this book is NOT a romance. I’m now reading Borderline by Mishell Baker which has a protagonist with disabilities, and is awesome.

        Elizabeth Bear is awesome, although I think she may be American. If you want some seriously old historical urban fantasy, try her or Marie Brennan. I’m currently working my way through One Eyed Jacks by Bear, and she has another series called The Promethean Age that spans from the modern era to the Elizabethan one and involves, fairies, Wizards and Satan. Not really a YA series, although One Eyed Jacks has some teenaged protagonists.

        A better fit for YA fantasy is the British writer, Storm Constantine’s Wraetthu series. Filled with young adults but there are some unconventional gender narratives in those books, so if you’re okay with that, you’re good to go. Kate Griffin is a better book for teens. And I restate, there are no romantic triangles in these books. They deliver magic, and action, just like the covers promise.

        There’s a wealth of books out there, maybe not YA books, but some of them are accessible/adjacent to YA. I think if you expand out of YA books just a teensy bit (not too much) you may find what you’re looking for. And I’ve found you also have to look for books with unconventional cover art.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG you just nailed it. The same applies to adult paranormal actually. It’s just so hard to sell, because the market is SATURATED with romantic stuff. When I published A Courtroom of Ashes, I saw my little baby SURROUNDED by “similar” books with covers of dudes chests and abs, and I was like, “What the flying fuck?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should mention the dudes with chest and abs in Adult Paranormal, it’s precisely the reason why I tend to skip over it. I feel like it’s going to be feel with nothing but sex and romance and a little bit of the paranormal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It usually is. But then what am I supposed to do? : ( My genre is paranormal adventure and even that is filled with half-naked dudes. It’s the end of the world, I tell you

        Liked by 1 person

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