Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The bitchy cheerleader cocked her eyebrow as she nervously bit her fingernails.

Joelle Anthony did a pretty damn good job pulling together a list of what she thought are the top 25 cliches found in YA. I envy this kind of perception. Unfortunately that concussion I suffered when I was 18 has my memory functioning like an 80-year-old so remembering similar nuances from book to book is a little hard for me to do.

If you want to see the entire list, just click on Joelle's name and read the corresponding article. I just want to highlight a few that happened to catch my eye.

#23 – A token black friend among a group of white friends - usually it’s a girl, and she’s always gorgeous

I've yet to see this in anything I've read. Maybe I'm just not reading the right books. But the token black peep? What decade is it?

# 21 – Using the word ‘rents for parents, but not using any other slang

I've never used 'rents. My friends have never used 'rents. In fact, I've never heard the slang term 'rents used outside of contrived teen movies. Was this ever really part of the teen etymology? Ever?

#18 – Authors showing their age by naming characters names they grew up with (i.e. Debbie, Lisa, Kimberly, Alice, Linda, etc.)

I understand names have a tendency of phasing in and out of fashion. Take mine for example. Donna. Very popular in the 50s and 60s. Ritchie Valens, anyone? But I was one of two Donnas in my class. So yeah, out of favor but still there. I don't see how naming a character Kim would date the author. How are more traditional names passe? Kids have a tendency of nicknaming anyway so Kim could become KK, Alice could become Ali or whatever. I don't get this one.

#13 – The mean-spirited cheerleader (and her gang) as the story’s antagonist

This one I've seen a lot and, to be completely honest, is was the polar opposite of what I experienced in high school. The cheerleaders at my school just were not that popular. Not like they were lepers but they weren't the ones that everyone looked up to. They were normal chicks, quite a few of them overweight (which caused some mean jokes from the football players, they ran on the stereotypical side, most of them). The Valedictorian of my class was a cheerleader (absolutely no common sense but the girl was insanely smart). So having grown up in the antithesis of the commonality of stories that are out there, I'm distanced from it automatically. It just seems to be a running automatic that cheerleader = slut bitch. The popular bitches of my school were much more integrated in activities (drama, art, tennis, track) and blended in more with everyone else. They were still bitches but just not that idolized.

# 8 – The diary, either as the entire format, or the occasional entry

I read one book like this and it was Stake That! by Mari Mancusi. I didn't really mind it because the "posts" integrated with the story and I didn't really notice them. Insert txt tlk and yeah, I'd get pulled out immediately (I'm the age where we just missed the serious text talk and I learned to type properly both in school and at home so while I type about 100 words a minute, txt tlk actually slows me down, even on my phone since it's QWERTY). If it's done well, or done in a way that'll constantly engage the reader, I don't see the problem.

# 5 – Raising one eyebrow

Oh yeah, seen this one plenty of times. I'm even guilty of writing it myself. But seeing as I give the evil eye constantly, it's only natural for it to bleed into my writing. I try to cover it up, though. At least I think.

# 3 – Calling parents by their first names

I've yet to see this one. And what kid does that? I know if I even tried that I'd get backhanded. And it's just weird.

So, have you noticed any common themes running throughout YA novels? Any particular bodily quirks of characters, situations, nuances? This is where I need to write everything down because I know I've come across some that I just can't remember! Blast it all!


Steph Su said...

It was an interesting article, although I think it's a bit outdated. The shy/withdrawn student taking refugee in the art room definitely comes from "Speak", which basically means that it can't be a cliche, that book was so darn good and ground-breaking. The extraordinarily long eyelashes made me laugh, because that one's true. But I've been seeing different kinds of trends recently, some of which aren't that good. But, uh, brain is fried, so I will think about this sometime else.

Amelia said...

I've read #23, 13, 21, 8 and 3 many, many times.At the high school in my county the cheerleaders aren't evil, but they are definitely higher up on the high school food chain.
And I call my mom by her first name. When I'm mad I called her "Mother". I don't know why I just started it when I was a kid, but she never minded. My brother had a phase where he did in in high school to "assert his independence" or something. I've noticed more teenage guys call their parents by the names more than girls.

Donna said...

Fried brains are not good, Steph. I'd love to hear about those different trends, though! I agree that article is a little outdated. It was written in 2007, I think. Granted I think we could compile an entire list based around teen vampire romance novels alone now.

I agree there, Amelia, with the guys. Still, I see it as blurring the parental line which I'm personally not fond of and something that just wouldn't have flown when I was growing up, at least with my mom. My dad likes being called dad so I think it's just upset him if I called him Dennis. Plus he doesn't really like his name anyway.

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