Stand back. I’m hopping on the soap box and I’ve got some shit to say.
Last night my daughter was reading yet another YA story that falls squarely in one of her favorite genres, post-apocalyptic/dystopian. I hear her shout, a book hits the floor and she’s done. Just done.
She’s rumbling and grumbling like the Honey Badger she is: “Why is this kind of story ALWAYS ruined when the kick-ass female lead– who is doing just fine on her own, thank you — is suddenly torn between Mr. Darkly Handsome and another guy who’s familiar and safe?”
I roll out of of bed to visit her room and commiserate and I’m all…wait, it can’t be every book.
Or is it?
Here’s our list:
Hunger Games, This Mortal Coil, The 5th Wave, Enclave, Matched, The Eleventh Plague. And then we ran out of road. But not gas.
Because we kept going, pulling books from the shelves and searching our favorites. God Damn. YA is all about the girl who’s torn between two boys love triangle.
We raged about it and came to a conclusion, it wasn’t the triangle part that made us crazy. It’s the barely surviving girl who wastes precious time worrying about which guy can/will/ help her solve her problems. And then, why is it that a lot of the time, the the guy she doesn’t choose turns out to be the bad guy. Or, at the very least, he’s in on the conspiracy in some way.
I know that last part doesn’t always hold true, but let’s be honest, it holds, what? 60-70% of the time? That makes it a trope, and a tired one at that.
Give me a triangle like Linnea, Vanessa and Nicke (The Engelsfors Trilogy where the girl might get the girl). Or two girls and a guy, where one girl loves the girl, but that second girl loves a boy. Add some confusion. Don’t turn the odd-one-out into the bad guy. Sometimes love just doesn’t work out.
Give me hurt and confusion and mistakes being made. I love me a good (and plausible) romantic misunderstanding.
Daughter and I decided we want more books with strong girls and young women who rescue themselves. Or, at the very least do a Secret Life of Bees style story where females rescue each other. Kill the cliche of the girl who needs a guy to make her safe or better.
I’m tired of not finding enough YA books where girls stand on their own two feet. Drop me a note in the comments if you know of one that would keep the daughter from tossing another book to the floor at 10 o’clock at night.
Featured image by Valyndril’s Heros from: