November 30, 2013

A Call for More Diversity

*Post inspired by #RBWL

If you guys haven't noticed, recently I've been broadening my horizons - reading more books from different genres, like Adult murder mysteries and historical, and middle grade fantasy and paranormal. I even read New adult! And suddenly, well, I've kind of started to wonder what happened to the diversity of YA? I can pretty much point to two "leading genres" in YA fiction.

Contemporary and Paranormal.

Those are our "big genres", the draw of YA. And don't forget the romance - there just is no story if there isn't romance in YA! So... when did we become so mainstream? When did almost every book become something that everyone has seen before?

It's like making your book YA is easy - put your character in high school, and give them romance. Nothing to see here, folks!

What I want, suddenly, is more diverse stories. I want to see interracial couples get together and not be shunned. I want to see more books about third-world countries and the problems there. I want to see more epic fantasy set in the desert, or underwater, and in the past. I want to see a main character that shops for groceries and uses food stamps. I want to see more pop-culture references, so I can remember what it was like to live in that time, or create an image of what it was like. And not fake pop-culture references, I want to see real ones - songs and movies and books that I could listen to or see or read if I wanted to.

I want to see more non-white characters in YA, and I want to see lots more historical and mysteries. I want to see American Indian historical, and more books about sports and drugs. I want to read one book where the society is entirely female. I want to read more fairytale dystopians, like Marissa Meyer's Cinder. I want to read a book where the bad guy wins the girl, and he's truly despicable but you can't help but love him.

I want to see more mythology books - all based in different countries, because every Greek or Norse mythology I read is based in America. I want to read more books based in China or Europe or Africa. I want to read about more normal homeschooled kids, and I want to read about book bloggers. I want to read a book written entirely in conversational text messages.

I want... I want everything. I want to read books about teens who aren't bad kids, and I want to read more books about kids who are in juvenile detention. I want to read about sexually transmitted diseases, like in Life After Now by Jessica Verdi, and Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski. I want to read about teen parents, and I want to read about kids who helped their parents build a house - because for about a year that was my life, and there is nothing more satisfying than living in a house that your family built with their hands. I want to read about female (and male) mechanics, and kids who don't wanna go to college. I want to read about dreamers and believers and the kids that no one understands. I want to read about country kids - and not the high class partiers that you've heard about, but the kids who go camping and four-wheeling and live miles away from the nearest stores. I want.... I want. I just want more creativity.

So... tell me. Do you feel like there should be more diversity in YA? There are so many ideas that were tossed around at the #RBWL that were fantastic. Books that I just might love, and would love to see done. And yet, none of them really happen. We love are tropes, that's for sure - but don't you think it's time to expand?

Do you want to see any of these ideas done, or do you have recommendations? Do you feel like YA is becoming cliched? Are you branching out, just like I am, in search of new material?
Meg's Signature


  1. Well,I agree with every single thing you say.I love it when I get to read a YA book or even a NA which is different.Sometimes it's the characters,or the setting,the universe or even the concept,if something is unique,it definitely makes the book stand out.I love creativity in my books.I love books which leave an impact on me.And just like you I wish for more books that's creative,unique and original.

  2. I would love to read a book that's set in Belgium or about some legends that are based in Belgium. Of course I'm a little biased since I live there and I'll probably never get to read one. Not in English anyway but I can hope! :)

  3. This is such a fantastic post, I almost started cheering at my computer. There NEEDS to be more diversity. To have interracial couples and different settings, to have TRUE representations like normal homeschooled kids, to have a different perspective like not just teen parents but AFTER the pregnancy since most books stop then, to have teens do TEEN things like you mentioned. If it's contemporary, one or two books may be fine to have some fantastic life that you dream of having. But mostly, I want it to feel real and DIVERSE. If it's another genre, more diversity is called for. *applauds*

  4. I completely agree, I've been trying to branch out a lot this year and find different things to read.
    I have a few recommendations of books I enjoyed that fit some of the criteria you mentioned in your post (not all are YA):

    Moon Called by Patricia Briggs - Adult paranormal, female mechanic who is half Native American.
    The Road to You by Marilyn Brant - Upper YA/NA contemporary + mystery, set in the 1970's with pop culture references.
    The Tomorrow series by John Marsden - YA, country teens who go camping.
    Chasing Forever Down by Nikki Godwin - YA contemporary, about following dreams.
    Parvana by Deborah Ellis - MG, set in Afghanistan.

    Hope these help :)

  5. Megan@The Book BabeDecember 2, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Maybe someday you will! I definitely think that'd be interesting! :) Of course, I have no idea what the Belgium legends are... O.O

  6. Megan@The Book BabeDecember 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Aww, thanks Mishma! Anything different is just fun, in my opinion. Sometimes, things end up being super weird, but a lot of the time I just like anything different. :) Creativity is something that should be everywhere - but our society just puts too much pressure on everyone and everything being the same. "Be different, but be a normal kind of different." O.O I just want everything. ;P

  7. Megan@The Book BabeDecember 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Haha, thanks! Cheering is definitely encouraged! :) EVERYBODY TRIES TO MAKE HOMESCHOOLED KIDS WEIRDOS. I'm not an axe murderer, thank you very much. And I'm also not 800% smarter than everyone else. That argument is false. I'd love to see a teen book about raising their kid! Everyone chooses to give them up in books - but I know for a fact that lots of teens keep their kids. And I want to read about them! Thanks for commenting, Sunny! :)

  8. Megan@The Book BabeDecember 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Thanks for the recommendations! I actually hadn't heard of any of them, so I'll definitely have to try a couple! :)