Thoughts on Thursday: Why I Stopped Reading YA


Why I Stopped Reading YA

This discussion was inspired by Stefani’s post about reading critically vs. being unfair in terms of comparing books, and my comment in response. After writing my comment, I had a lightbulb moment.

Stefani wanted to know if she was simply being unfair to books by comparing them to others, or if what she was doing was considered “reading critically.”

As I pointed out in my comment, her question about comparing books immediately made me think of Tara’s commentary on this same subject, in response to the “This is just like the Hunger Games!!” phenomenon. In particular, I was thinking about what she said in #5:

All literature derives from and is inspired by other literature. Some novels really wow us with their unique concepts or excellent writing, but even these elements are inspired by those who came before. I think I’ve made my point that there is a long history of “this book begat this book which begat that book” going on, so it is not interesting nor is it original to compare every single novel to The Hunger Games. That’s basically like announcing that you’ve not read any other dystopian novels and know little about the genre. Which is fine, but why criticize and make blanket statements like that when you’ve not read enough to know what you’re talking about?

(Tara @ The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh! ~ “Every Book Is Not The Hunger Games“)

In the Show Me Your GIFs book tag the wonderful Nyze tagged me in, I had a difficult time coming up with a response to Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi. My GIF and comment are below:

A mix of 5 books I’ve read. MORE ORIGINAL!


A mix of 5 books I’ve read. That was my immediate response to reading the book synopsis. I made this comment because it very, very strongly sounded like a mix of five very popular, recent books that were published, from the entire story arc to the plot lines to characters.

Stefani posed the question to readers if we do the same, so I dissected my own reading habits for a moment. In a nutshell, I do compare books. There are sometimes elements in a book that remind me of other books (because of setting, descriptions and language, dialogue or the characters themselves). But I only really compare books when there is an obvious overlap in plot.

And the next thing I said shocked even myself.

This is why I have stopped reading YA.

It was like I didn’t even know I’d been consciously doing this until Stefani helped me make this connection.

Why did I stop reading YA? It all just started to sound like the same plot lines or story arcs, just tweaked a little bit with this writer’s fancy historical background and that writer’s magical fantasy insert.

It felt like cardboard writing. Or, as some people describe them, like a cookie-cutter house.

How do you feel about YA as a genre? Do you see the same things I do?

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Thursday: Why I Stopped Reading YA

  1. I’m so glad my post inspired you to do more thinking on the topic. I agree that most YA books seem the same with slight changes. Reading critically it is 😀

  2. I think there can be a lot of overlap and “inspiration” in YA. There are definitely tons of books that are too similar to the books that came before them. I don’t typically compare books but it’s hard to avoid it if they’re really close in plot and characterization. Still, I love YA and I think there’s tons of great examples out there. I won’t stop reading it any time soon. I don’t know that YA necessarily has more derivative books than other genres. For instance, paranormal romance novels are all the same to me, more often than not, and mystery novels can get pretty redundant and formulaic. I think all genres have this problem if you read a whole lot of it or if you’re reading all of the new releases that may or may not have been written to piggyback on current trends.

  3. I’ve recently cut back drastically on my YA reading and now only select a few here and there. I find myself totally annoyed by the teen behavior much of the time (lately) and I’m sick of all the drama. And you’re right, many of them just feel too similar. I want UNIQUE and if I feel the book can deliver that and I’ve seen reviews saying so, then I’ll read it. I do still have some that I accepted for review months ago and I’ll read those but it does feel a bit unfair when I review because right now I’m WAY picky with YA.

  4. I like YA, but I do think there are a lot of books that sound like other books. To be fair, this is something a lot of publishers think about. I interned for a major publishing house a couple years ago, and the question was often raised when they were considering purchasing a manuscript: “Did this remind you too strongly of X book?” Of course, there may be other editors in the world who are going for that sort of thing, who think a strong association will actually sell a new book in the short term. *shrug*

    So, I guess I keep reading YA because even though I do find a lot of it is derivative, whether intentionally or unconsciously, I do really love finding a great, original YA book.

  5. I love YA, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading it, but I definitely do see what you’re saying. This is why I have to sometimes just break out of my typical genres and start reading something completely different. Because I find that within every genre (whether it’s YA or not), there are repeating themes and certain tropes that you just can’t escape. The best way to mix things up is to read multiple genres! (At least that’s what’s worked for me.)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. I recently decided that I wanted to cut back on YA as well. I agree with your points about how so many are so similar in so many ways. Also, I’m just kind of sick of reading about teen drama. I mean, yes, there are books that break apart from the rest – in originality and maturity level – but those just seem to be so few and far between. I really want to read more adult books. The only problem is that I already own so many YA books, so I have to finish those off before I can truly make the switch!

    I also find it a bit difficult when going to a bookstore, etc. because I find my eye is always drawn to the covers of YA books over adult books. Why are YA books more attractive? Is that just me?

  7. I hear ya. I still really love YA, but since I started a bookblog about 6 months ago, I’ve been reading WAY more YA than I did in previous years, and as a result I’m getting kinda bored with it. Most of the books I read are like 3-star books, which is fine, but I’ve been listening to classics and contemporary adult lit that has been challenging me to think deeper. Consuming Dostoevsky and John Green at the same time shows some of what’s missing in YA.

  8. I definitely think if you read enough of the same genre one after the other, everything will start to blend together and look the same. That’s why it’s nice to change things up — read a YA, then a classic, a fantasy novel, a graphic novel; it helps from getting into a reading funk.

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