As a writer and bookworm, I read books with an eye for style, creativity, and risk.
Though some say reading judgementally isn’t enjoyable, I think it’s awesome to take an educated approach to the stories we read. As a writer, it’s something to embrace even more, right? If we see another author make a mistake, we can avoid those pitfalls in our own books. It’s kinda how learning works!
One of my favorite things to find in a book is an author not only being a good writer, but being a RiSkY one. I love an author that isn’t afraid to break some rules, pave new paths, and be a general writing BOSS. Plus, watching other authors try new things is so inspiring! Because they could fail. They could flop and get bad reviews and be thrown into the fire to be kindling.
For that reason, we gotta #respect the risks taken by authors, especially in a genre so competitive and crazy as YA. There are some particular risks, though, I really enjoy reading, so I contacted Olivia @ Purely Olivia to ask if she would collaborate with me. And here we are today tackling twelve risks we adore from our favorite YA authors. 🤗 I’m taking six while Olivia reviews the next set of six, so don’t miss out on her post!
relationships fall out
Nearly every YA novel has major elements of romance witing inside, ready to swallow readers up with the endless fluff/angst of an OTP. Because what is teen life with a lil’ drama, huh?? But you know what I want to see more of? The relationships that don’t have a Hallmark ending. The relationships that come to an end. The realistic finding-out-we’re-just-friends talks. Moving on. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH.
A change like that alters the direction of the character. It alters her thought process, her independence, and, temporarily, her emotional state. That’s a hard thing to write without turning the whole book into a pity party, and I think that’s the reason why not many people add it — well, that and not wanting to surrender the cute couple Pinterest boards we create when we’re supposed to be writing. *grins guiltily*
main character death
The classic! Main character deaths have always left me breathless — literally, in some cases — and I can’t tell if I love or hate them. But even if I’m divided on my opinion, I can respect the authors that do this, because they are absolute rockstars! evil rockstars murdering their imaginary children, but, still. rockstars.
It takes a lot of guts to kill off your main character — the person who’s been leading the reader through their lives. But, no doubt about it, your book will be impossible to forget. Kudos to the souls brave enough to try it! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go sob in the corner…
spoiling the end WITHIN the book
I’ve only come across this three times and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I’m not going to give examples, but it’s where a book spoils its own ending. Though it seems counterintuitive to getting people to keep reading, it’s maddening to know what’s going to happen but not seeing how. A few posts ago, we talked a little about foreshadowing in the Harry Potter series, and ‘spoiling’ the end of your book is another tricky way to shadow the end of your novel!
main cast fails
Ahh, there’s nothing like a book wherein the main characters FAIL. What an uplifting way to end a book, amiright?
I’ve always been a firm believer that failure = growth. If you’ve ever seen Meet The Robinsons, you know failure is just a step to success. and that 2007 CGI was absolutely terrifying *cowers*
Unfortunately, we don’t see a lot of failure in YA. The girl gets the guy, the underdog wins saves the day, and the depressed teen is magically all better. In real life, those things don’t usually happen, and even when they do, it doesn’t instantly make the world better. So let’s give a hand to the characters who try their hardest but fail.
keeping a consistent character
Here on the blogosphere, there’s a lot of prejudice towards love triangles. I used to wonder why everyone was so against them — Ninjago’s was awesome! It wasn’t the best in existence, but it sure was entertaining. I was actually conflicted for a moment who I was rooting for. Sorry, Cole. Jaya always wins.
But then I watched The Hunger Games, and it all fell apart. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! Katniss was so capable on her own, and it was so confusing to me what on earth was going on because her disposition kept changing. Every few minutes you had to ask who Katniss liked now. Peeta? Gale? 😒
People like to change up personality in triangles because two different love interests, each with different personalities, need certain characteristics from their partners. So the one they’re fighting over should be able to switch personalities to adapt to whatever their partner’s needs. And, unless you’re doing this stylistically, it’s unrealistic.
Through the Katniss disaster, I’ve learned that triangles can be done well if they’re placed in the right circumstance and with the right characters. That’s right: not all triangles are mini spawns of the devil! But way too many break the characters from their personalities, make the person who has to choose look like a petty, dumb character with no decision-making abilities. Thank you to the YA authors who give their fictional kids dignity and maintain consistency throughout a triangle.
leaving without a proper ending
Most books wrap up their stories with a nice little bows and ties. But to the writers that cut off their books at the most heartwrenching points, we salute thee.
While indefinite endings can singlehandedly shatter our little bookworm hearts, they can leave a beautiful story with a meaningful ending. Instead of telling us what happens to our smol characters, these brilliant authors leave us thinking about what could be long after the book’s over. We still kind of hate when books leave ends out like this, but. Respect.
There are six risks I really enjoy finding in YA novels! Much thanks to Olivia, whose brainstorming was so helpful in sparking the creativity of this post! You should go check out her stuff. Like, right now. I’m absolutely in love with her blog and we have a lot in common (like hufflepuff pride wheee!!). Go read her post here!
Let’s talk, then! What are some crazy things you’ve seen authors do that you respect them for? DO YOU HATE THE TRIANGLES WITH A BURNING PASSION?! What do you think about main character deaths? No spoilers, please (i still have a lot of books to read lol)!