First, a caveat: I've always loved YA literature. Always. Thought it was better than every other kind. More artistic. More solid. Better stories. More fun to Read.
And then I had to read through a random sample of 212 YA books.
And the problem: as statisticians are well aware, you can't really say, "I've read 1000 YA books, so I know something about YA literature," because your 1000 books might consist of a skewed sample. I might have read 1000 books, but if they were all Newbery winning books, or books that my friends raved about, or books that sold a gazillion copies, then they're not representative of YA literature as a whole. You need a *random* sample to say anything about that.
It turns out that what I thought was YA literature was a skewed sample.
Which is depressing.
And necessitates the following rant.
Be warned, as this is a subject I feel so passionately about, I might not be able to keep myself from swearing.
Things I Hate about YA Literature Today:
1) There is a world outside of NYC. And it's not LA.
2) Most kids are not that rich. Nor do they know anyone that rich. Nor do they care.
3) Whining really, really loud about something does NOT make it a conflict. i.e.: "OMG! I can't afford this $3000 Marc Jacobs purse like my friends because my AWFUL MOTHER put a $2000 limit on my credit card!!" = not a conflict.
4) Using more !!!!!'s will not make me more emotionally involved with your story.
5) Speaking of story, just because your book is "edgy" (i.e. everyone is drunk all the time except when they're doing blow and having indiscriminate sex with indiscriminate genders at indiscriminate orgies with lots and lots of indiscriminate boners and indiscriminate F words) doesn't mean you don't need one! Shock = not a story.
6) Speaking of F words, why the &^%$ are so many of your protagonists ungrateful, spoiled, entitled, b*tches and @$$holes who are utterly unlikable? Why would I want to waste my life reading about people who I wouldn't want to hang out with in 1000 years?!
7) And they really drink THAT MUCH?
8) And their parents really DON'T CARE AT ALL?
9) And speaking of unlikable protagonists, just because you made your protagonist exactly like you doesn't mean I'll find them charming. I'll just find you both annoying.
10) And if you wanted to publish a memoir about your youth, why the *&^% didn't you do THAT? Don't call it fiction and force me to wait for the *&&^%ing plot to appear.
11) See, fiction needs to be *believable* but it can't be *real.* Real life doesn't follow the fiction-required elements of story arc: conflict/complication/escalation/climax/resolution.
12) Small towns aren't always horrible. Neither are parents.
13) There are other professions more interesting than: actress, model, fashion designer, writer, heiress.
14) If your book is 500 pages long, then FOR THE LOVE OF LITERATURE SOMETHING BETTER HAPPEN!
15) Please decide which is more important: what you NEED to say, or entertaining your audience. If you chose the first one, stop writing for teenagers and get a blog.
Random samples = TOTALLY DEPRESSING. We can do better than this, people.