Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Patterns in Books

I read a lot. My girlfriends and I have spent the past year in a book club, each person submitting a book and then we vote from a pool of 5 each month. So again, I read quite a bit. In addition to my book club, I also listen to audiobooks during my commute to and from work. 

I like a wide variety of books. If you'll click on the reading challenge up in the top menu bar, you can see the books I've read for the year. With the upcoming movie version of The Hunger Games book, my book club friends and I have chosen to read the series and discuss it. On  the drive I've been listening to The Hunger Games and at home reading The Iron Fey series. 

Because I like to read YA books, I've noticed a pattern recently. When writing a YA book, it must be necessary to have a protagonist with an absent parent (most likely an absent father) and a love triangle of some kind. 

Let's consider a few popular YA series. The Iron Fey for starters, is about a young girl, Meghan Chase, whose father went missing when she was six, only to find out at sixteen that her real father is the Faery King Oberon (A Midsummer Night's Dream). During the series, Meghan develops feelings for two male characters, Ash and Puck (Robin Goodfellow, also Midsummer Night's Dream). So, daddy issues-check, love triangle-check.

Up next, Twilight. Bella Swan, who grew up with her flighty single mother reunites with her near-stranger father when her mother decides to remarry a traveling baseball player. Enter love interest Edward Cullen and book two, Jacob Black. Daddy issues-check, love triangle-check.

A lesser known, but still patternly His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass) stars Lyra, a young seemingly orphaned girl who begins a quest of dark against light. Daddy issues-check, mommy issues-check; no love triangle (she's a little too young).

Which brings me to The Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen, a young tribute from District 12 enters a bloodbath leaving behind a barely there mother, a dead father and a sister who needs caring for. During this series, we see Katniss struggle with her feelings for two boys she's not sure if she loves or not. Daddy issues-not really, but he's absent, mother issues-check, love triangle-check.

I could go on and on. The Beautiful Creatures Series, The Fallen Series, The Sally Lockhart Series (to an extent) all feature at least one missing parent and some type of love triangle or love interest. If you even want to take it a step further, YA books aren't the only books guilty of this pattern. The Southern Vampire Mysteries (Sookie Stackhouse books, True Blood) and even The Millennium series (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) have a heroine who has missing parents and some type of issue with their love life. 

We all obviously enjoy it, or these books wouldn't be selling, but I sometimes have to ask myself if writing a YA book would really be that difficult. I've read enough of them that surely I could cut and paste some ideas, put my own names and places to the story, twist it a little, and make money off of the clearly booming market. 

Of all the books I mentioned, Katniss is my favorite. Katniss is strong and brave and is a better person than I am most days. She represents the type of person I would want my daughter to be if forced in the horrible situations Katniss has been in. Not that I think that everything she does is okay, there are definitely some low points to her character, but all in all, at least she doesn't wilt and die because a boy moved away. If I ever decide to get in on the YA market, I hope to write a character one can look up for the positive attributes of their character and not because their boyfriend is sparkly vampire.

YA books
Love triangle
absent/distant father
feelings for both

Bookmark and Share


Christian said...

Totally agree on your take of YA books.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...