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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Top 10 Stereotypes in YA Books

Super attractive bad boys.  Love triangles. “My life sucks” mentality. Magical powers. Sound familiar? Yep. I just described the bulk of YA characters. I mean, hey, I love YA. I have a blog dedicated to it, after all! But with the amount of Young Adult books coming out recently, it's hard not to notice similarities between them, both good and bad. They can still be entertaining to read, but it can get a little tiring to read the same type of story over and over again. So I will be talking about top 10 stereotypes I've noticed in YA books, plus good examples of these tropes that I have read. So let's go!

#1 Undiscovered Powers

A lot of fantasy YA books start off their series with this. The main character starts off as just an ordinary girl, living her life, wishing it wasn’t so boring, when suddenly a mysterious boy appears, whom she’s instantly attracted to. Then, boom! He drops the bomb that no, in fact, she’s not ordinary. She’s extra special! She has powers! She’s actually a princess! Et cetera, et cetera. Remind you of pretty much every YA book series? Yeah, I thought so. 

Good examples:
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

#2 Love Triangle

Ugh, where do I begin? I think we can all agree that these are completely overused and quite predictable. We have a girl who loves two boys – the good boy and the bad boy. And the two boys both hate each other. Yet it’s completely obvious who she’ll pick in the end. I  can only think of two book series that had a decent love triangle and had me guessing who the main character would actually pick in the end.

Good examples: 
Clockwork  Angel by Cassandra Clare
White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L Armentrout

#3 Loyal Best Friend

Every female protagonist has one of these. The best friend she’s known since birth, who knows her inside and out, and the hero either has to hide a secret from her to protect her or defies her new friend’s (cough cough love interest) orders to not to tell anyone and tells the best friend everything. What I would like to see is the protagonist only having acquaintances or else losing a friendship. Those things occur in real life and would be a lot more relatable.

Good example: 
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

#4 Non-Existent (Or Dead) Parents 

BASICALLY EVERY SINGLE YA BOOK IN EXISTANCE. The parents are dead or just died, and this pushes our main character to continue on with the plot of the book, or else they aren’t mentioned at all. Or else the character just always sneaks out and only mentions the parents when they’re hoping they won’t get caught. I can only think of one book where the parent (in this example a grandmother) is actually prominent in the plot of the story, is given a character arc and is actually really likable.

Good Example:
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter.

#5 Unknown Beauty

This is the stereotype where our main character is actually drop-dead gorgeous, but has such low self-esteem that she doesn’t see it. She’s then completely shocked when the love interest is attracted to her, and when he tells her she’s beautiful, she doesn’t believe him at all. I would really love a book where a girl discovers she’s beautiful BEFORE a boy tells her, or, even better, discovers it by herself. If a girl is that insecure about her looks, it’s going to take more than one boy to make her realise her beauty.

Good example: 
Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout

#6 Brooding Bad Boy/ Mr Tall, Dark and Perfect
These two are basically the same, so they get one category. The love interest is always one or the other, or both if you have a love triangle. You either get the brooding bad boy, who is supermodel hot but is tragically flawed. Maybe he’s the anti-hero! I’ll be honest, I love them. Fall for them every time, tragic flaws and all. They’re nearly always the most entertaining part of the book.

Good Examples:
Roth from White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L Armentrout
Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses

Then there’s Mr Tall Dark and Perfect. Also handsome. Also good. This love interest is flawless and is perfect for our main character in every way. Too perfect for me. I need flaws! There needs to be realism in these books too.

Good Examples:
Zayne from White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L Armentrout
Jem from Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

#7 Shocking Revelation

Surprise! Who knew? EVERYONE EXCEPT THE MAIN CHARACTER. You know what’s worse than a shocking revelation, especially when it’s about the main character? When you can see it coming. It’s so much worse when the main character IS THE ONLY PERSON that is shocked by this revelation. It would’ve been a great plot twist if we hadn’t seen it coming.

Good examples:
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

#8 Forbidden Love

The book I'm reading at the moment, Talon by Julie Kagawa, has forbidden love. Can we stop with this please? It’s so predictable. You know it’s going to end badly because hello, it’s forbidden, but the chemistry is always off the charts and you know they’re really destined to be together. it’s predictable, but oh so good to read.

Good examples:
Vampire Academy and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Covenant by Jennifer L Armentrout

#9 Strong, Stubborn Female Character
Most female protagonists I’ve read about lately all seem to have the same traits: stubborn, loud, reckless. Does what she wants when she wants, regardless of the consequences. Again, the book I’m reading at the moment? The main character is the epitome of stereotypical female character. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great character. I’ve just read it a million times! I could name you dozens of main characters in YA books who all act the same and have the same traits. It does get a little boring and predictable sometimes. The only good thing is that it allows those characters to develop, especially in a series.

Good examples:
Talon by Julie Kagawa
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Gravity by Melissa West

#10 Insta-love.

You know the drill. Boy sees girl. Girl sees boy. Their eyes meet and BAM! Their fates are sealed. Instant, undying love. They'll do anything to be together, anything to save the other, even if they've only known each other an hour. 

BAD example:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

So those are my two cents. What YA stereotype do you often see in YA books that I may have missed? Or do you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Excellent list - I think you got the most common ones! Also I really like your choice of gifs, especially the Mr. Bean one! :D

    1. Haha I'm sure there's plenty more I've missed but I didn't want to put people off YA completely! :P

  2. This post is so perfect. I was scrolling down the list, saying “Yes, yes, yes, seen all of these way too many times.”

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Yes, it'd be so great to see something new in YA sometimes!

  3. Great list and I LOVE your examples!! :)

  4. This is simply perfect and so freaking true! Pretty much every YA book I've ever read fall into these places, some books contain more than one! Simply wonderful post!

    Carrie @The Book Goddess


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