This week’s Top Ten will focus on” Signs You’re Reading Too Much YA Literature.” Have you ever noticed common themes in your reading repertoire…and then applied them to your life? Today’s list will be a combination of my own ideas, preceded by this “Top Five” posted by Book Riot in 2011 (with memes added in by me). It was so funny and so relevant to my blog that I had to share. (I will note where the shift takes place.)
Originally Posted on Book Riot on October 11, 2011
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I read a lot of young adult literature, as previous posts at Book Riot might suggest. But this semester, I’m also teaching Children’s Literature in addition to reading YA for pleasure. It’s starting to feel like I have a YA novel in hand every waking moment, and I think it’s starting to skew my perceptions of reality. If you’re like me, you may hear echoes of yourself in this list.
Here are my top five signs you’re reading too much young adult literature.
1. Utopia vs. Dystopia
You keep a spreadsheet to try to determine whether you exist in a utopia or a dystopia. (Corporate ownership of media? Dystopia. New Muppet movie on the horizon? Utopia.) You secretly hope it turns out to be a dystopia so you can demonstrate your awesomeness in some world-liberating way.
The Love Triangle
You wonder how your relationship triangle is going to shake out. Will it be the moody, wild rebel who taught you about passion, or the sweet, gentle artist who taught you about love? (If you’re still waiting for the candidates to show themselves, you may be spending entirely too much time eyeing up your colleagues.)
Life is a Metaphor
You take to expressing yourself metaphorically through objects. You position a dying plant, a talisman, and a notebook of doodles on the corner of your desk. When people ask how you are doing, you gesture knowingly at the objects and keep silent. They’ll figure it out.
Expecting Parental Conflict via Telephone
You phone your parents hoping for either any angry blow-out of epic proportions or a disinterested silence that will reaffirm your worldly malaise. Disappointingly, they just want to tell you they love you and chat about your day.
Saying “No” to Games
Between Hunger and Ender, you’ve become quite suspicious of the concept of games. When a colleague suggests a round of charades before the end of a dinner party, you arm yourself with a steak knife and take refuge behind the largest armchair. You’re developing a reputation at baby showers.
This marks the end of Book Riot’s list–the next five are my own.
6. Too Many Grown-Ups
Young-adult novels can make it seem like the world is populated with nothing but teenagers. So when you look up from your book and notice you’re surrounded by adults, you feel a sense of foreboding and worry for their safety. They may be unwritten at any moment.
7. Destiny Past 16
Sixteen is the unofficial coming-of-age moment for heroes and heroines of young-adult literature to fulfill their destiny. I’m guilty of this myself, as an author. I think it does make sense, psychologically, that 16 is often an approximate turning point for people to define themselves. But besides being a little redundant, it gives us non-teenagers some anxiety about doing anything meaningful with our lives now that we’re not 16 anymore. Maybe we won’t single-handedly prevent a civil war in our nation, but we can put out one hell of a press release. That makes a difference in its own way, right? Right?
8. Your Significant Other Has a Pulse
This one comes courtesy of my friend Lindsey, who is sort of the expert on supernatural love stories. If you’re surprised your significant other has a pulse, it may be time to take a breather from the genre–pun intended. Young-adult literature has been supersaturated with love stories about vampires, werewolves, zombies, angels, ghosts, fairies, and other otherworldly beings lately. It makes for an exciting read, sure, but it puts us mortals in a less interesting light when it comes to your love choices.
9. The Near-Kiss
Another friend, Alex, mentioned this one. He’s right: any good young-adult romance is filled with near-kisses, almost-romantic gestures that take until the last page to conclude–or never do. If your significant other has expressed confusion that you never quite kiss him/her goodbye before work–that instead it’s a lip brush and a breath–you may be applying this trope to your real life.
10. Love at First Sight
This is a couple of dangerous stereotypes rolled into one. This is a popular idea in young-adult literature, and it makes sense. When learning about first loves, teenagers, sometimes, can pay too much attention to the superficial, i.e., what we can see/physical perfection. Personally, it annoys me when books perpetuate the idea that love interests are all physically perfect and instantly fall in love. I think that’s encouraging too much focus on what isn’t important–it’s what’s inside that really counts, even if we’re still working on making a difference after the age of 16. 😉
What do you think, readers? Have you been reading too much young-adult literature? Personally, I don’t think it’s possible, but I will try to cut myself a little slack with destiny, and I’ll allow myself to enjoy games with less paranoia. No promises on being less metaphorical, though. Hey, I’m a writer; I can’t help it. 😉