I’ve always enjoyed reading New Adult books because I feel they explore relevant issues in a realistic and relatable
manner. However, over the past year or so, I drifted away from the genre; and there’s a very good reason for this… If you read a lot of New Adult you will very quickly pick up a pattern in the story lines that becomes old equally fast. This was the reason for me staying clear of the genre for a while.
Here are a few things that have been bugging me in New Adult books lately:
THE CLUB SCENE
Almost every New Adult book I read has a scene where the female lead character goes to a club to get totally wasted, and right when she finds herself in a dangerous situation, the guy she’s been crushing on shows up to rescue her. It’s predictable, boring and unbelievable. It also bugs me because it implies that women need to be rescued from their own “recklessness” because they cannot deal with reality – not cool!
The thing about New Adult books is that it is written with adults in mind (duh!) so I get annoyed when authors feel the need to create drama in their stories by having the main character shape an over the top, childish plan to get a) revenge, b) a man, or c) a man. It’s ridiculous! Here’s an idea: how about dealing with conflict and emotions in a constructive, realistic, ADULT way?
THE BITCHY BESTIE
I’m sure everyone has their own story of bestie-betrayal. But, believe it or not, you get good people in this world too. For example, a best friend who doesn’t want to steal your boyfriend or ruin your life! It would be refreshing if New Adult books focused on the positive, like how beautiful a friendship between two people can be, instead of harping on the negative.
THE WOMAN WITH BODY ISSUES
Did YOU know that writing about a woman with low self esteem just strengthens the idea that all women are focused solely on their looks? How about writing a story following a woman polar opposite to the airbrushed models we see all over the show, WITHOUT all the self hate? I would LOVE to read a book about a woman who owns every single thing that makes her fabulous. Or why she loves being extraordinarily ordinary – either way I just want her to be everything she is and not apologize for it.
PRETTY, RICH, BOSSY AND WHITE
According to every New Adult book I ever read; if you check these four boxes then you have what it takes to make it big in this world. And no offense if you happen to be pretty, rich, bossy and white; because you deserve to have your story shared too, but it bothers the shit out of me that it’s the most TOLD story in this genre! People come in different colours, sizes, backgrounds and personalities; it’s what makes the world so beautiful! I want to read about them all! And not just about one small portion of it. As a Muslim, South African woman of colour it would be awesome if more people got to see my side of the veil, so I’d imagine it would be equally amazing for people to read about other cultures and backgrounds too.
I don’t think this needs further explaining. It’s annoying, and it’s gots ta go!
THE STEREOTYPICAL GAY BEST FRIEND
This is offensive. It pigeon holes people which is never okay!
THE EQUALLY STEREOTYPICAL JOB
This applies mostly to female characters but I think it can apply to male leads as well. I think over the years that I read New Adult, two books (TWO?!??!) have the lead female characters succeeding in “male dominated” careers, and both of these books share the struggles these women face in their jobs. We live in a world where women are flying aeroplanes, building roads and running countries for crying out loud! It would be nice for New Adult books to reflect this reality!
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good romance. I enjoy reading about two strangers who are drawn together and make it work, even with the odds stacked against them. But (and I strongly suspect that Fifty Shades of Grey is to be blamed for this) recently I’ve noticed that New Adult books are actually showing women WANTING these kinds of unhealthy relationships. And then, instead of focusing on what’s wrong and working on those issues, it just jumps straight to the part where everything is magically mended. I love reading books that shows an author went the extra mile to do proper research before writing on these kinds of topics, because then they will give me the good, the bad, and the ugly; before painting me a sweet picture of the happily ever after. Even if it means that the two don’t necessarily end up together. I hate cheap cop-outs for the sake of a momentarily happy ending.
And while we’re on the subject, I absolutely cannot stand cheap cop-outs!! I’d much rather have an open ending that leaves me to think for a while after I close the book. I think the reason books and films such as The Fault in Our Stars and Me Before You did so well, is because it didn’t go down that road. Instead it made us face reality, deal with heartbreak and got us talking.
What patterns have you picked up in New Adult books that really bother you? And do you agree (or disagree) with any of the ones I mentioned here?