Earlier this month, Steph Bowe wrote a list of things that make her stop reading a YA book. If I'm being honest, I'll say that very little will stop me from reading a YA book, mostly because YA books are generally so short that by the time I realize that I should have stopped reading one, I'm done with it. But here are the things that would make me stop reading one, and will keep me from reading the next book in the series, should there be one:
1. "hip" teen slang. Do authors really think that they're being authentic when they do this? Because without fail, "hip" slang sounds corny and cheesy in, at most, a year. Also, if you are not actually a teenager, you have no idea what they think is hip. Adult writers for YA should focus on story and worry about slang later.
2. too many pop culture references. These references, like the slang, grow stale way too quickly and only serve to date the story. And, again, adult writers have no idea what pop culture is for teenagers (not even super Cool and Awesome adults like myself).
3. girls who don't do anything. DO SOMETHING, LADIES.
4. characters who do something reprehensible and then get rewarded for it. I'm not saying that every character has to be good, or that every bad deed must be punished, but when a character does something reprehensible and then I'm supposed to be happy about it...well, I'm not.*
5. bad writing. All writing isn't Proust, right, but there's a difference between not-Proust and affirmatively bad.
6. I'm going to agree with Steph on this one:
anyone's problems are completely solved by falling in love with another person. I mean, are you trying to encourage teenage girls to be desperate and clingy or what?7. Everything happens. Some authors seem to confuse a dramatic story with DRAH-MA. I don't need the lead character to be an alcoholic and a cutter and a victim of sexual assault and dealing with her parents divorce and, and, AND. Any one of those things is totally plenty to hang a story one, so bring it down a notch, writer.
8. A character is the Chosen One. I understand that a character needs to be special (otherwise why do we care what happens to her), but does the character have to be the Only One In The Whole Damn World Who Can Do What Needs To Be Done? Can't she just be special? Rare? Unusual? Does she have to be unique?
I'm sure there are tons of things I'm forgetting here, but these are the basics.
* A perfect example of this happened on an old episode of Made, which I will use as an example. In that episode, a tomboy wanted to be made into a girly girl and get a date to the prom. During the course of her journey, a boy who is a friend of hers asks her to prom and she says yes. Then she decides that she wants to go to prom with a hotter, more popular boy. So, on the advice of her Made coach (who is a grown woman and should know better) she asks him, and he says yes, and then she breaks it to the other boy by phone and writes him an apology letter.
The minute that she ditched her friend (who asked first and who she said yes to, when she could have said no), I didn't like her anymore. Ditching a boy you said yes to for another more popular hotter boy (who probably only agreed to go with you because you were on television) is a jerk move, and I'm not going to like a character who does it.