I’ve been reading quite a few YA novels lately and I’m reminded of why I stopped reading them in favor of “adult” novels.
The characters aren’t developed well. (Of course, there are always exceptions; I’m talking about the majority.) After awhile, all the voices of the main characters in YA novels tend to blend together into one voice. The main character of one could be the main character of them all.
The majority of YA books are told in the first person, and many are in the present tense. Reading a first person POV doesn’t irritate me as much as it used to, but even though I am technically “in the character’s head” while reading the novel, I still feel as if the character just isn’t developed.
It might be because I tend to enjoy character-driven novels over plot-driven novels; the vast majority of YA novels, if not all, are plot-driven. Maybe that’s why I don’t get much satisfaction when I’m reading them. I want to see the character really change and transform throughout the story.
I understand that most readers don’t want character-driven fiction. Plot drives the book and a good plot is mostly what hooks the reader and brings in the money. Yes, characters are important – but a lot of times, I think character development is often neglected for the sake of the plot.
I read What I Lived For by Joyce Carol Oates, which was character-driven. Although I sometimes wanted to punch the main character in the face a few times, I enjoyed the book because the main character drove the entire story. The plot was an underlying element; I felt that the character created the plot, not the author.
That’s what I want out of YA books. A plot that doesn’t have so much author influence. I think that if the characters are strong enough, they will create the plot and drive it forward. But I will keep reading YA in hopes that I find a book that is more character-driven.