Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young elites
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Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: A Young Elites Novel Series , #1
ISBN-13: 9780399167836
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 10/7/2014
Pages: 368
Age range: 12 – 17 Years

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I cracked open this novel. I enjoyed Marie Lu’s Legend Series, so I assumed I would also like this, but it is Fantasy, and I don’t read a lot of Fantasy. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting in the main character of Adelina Amouteru. Besides the fact I couldn’t pronounce her last name, she was dark. Very dark, and Marie calls this the villain’s story at the back of the book. While I didn’t necessarily see her as the villain, she was an intense character with a lot of baggage. You see her make choices that you know will lead to her downfall (kind of like Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith) but you still want her to win or that her choice won’t lead to the eventualities you’re expecting.

And don’t expect a rosy happy ending. Having read Marie Lu’s work before, I wasn’t expecting sunshine and rainbows, but I also wasn’t prepared for what actually happens. As usual, Lu is great at endings, even if they don’t leave you warm and snuggly afterwards.

So basically I loved this book, if I haven’t said that already. It was superbly written, which I needed after some sub-par YA’s I’ve read recently. The characters were intensely deep and I loved the stories of Adelina’s youth, and her reactions to what happened. They seem sinister and potentially evil, but I could see myself in her interactions with her little sister. Sisterhood is a rare bond bordered on both sides by hate and love. I can’t wait to read more of this series, though I’m sure it will be heart rending from start to finish. I expect “good” to prevail in the end, but I actually like when characters don’t walk away from stories like this with their happily-ever-after. HEA’s are unrealistic after people suffer so much. I prefer as-happy-as-you-can-be endings.

My Review: 4 stars

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Book Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor


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Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Hardcover: 624 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 8, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316134074
ISBN-13: 978-0316134071
Amazon Review: 4.6/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she’s ever known.

When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat–and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves–maybe even toward love.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

I have to admit, I think I’m getting tired of writing book reviews. Maybe it’s just because the books I’m reviewing I read weeks ago, or maybe because I’m feeling so much pressure to get my novel ready for submission. Whatever the case, I think I’m going to take a different approach, oh, about 4 reviews from now. 🙂 I always forget to keep notes while I’m reading, so that’s something I’ll change, and I guess I’ll just talk about things that jump out at me, give a brief overall judgement, and my stars. Maybe that’s not so different, but being organized might help. And writing it immediately instead of waiting two weeks!

So on to Dreams of Gods & Monsters. As you can tell by my previous reviews (Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight) I love this series! I started a Pinterest fan-board, so that should show how much I love it. So there really isn’t much more to say. Taylor’s writing is magnificent. She transports me to another world and I read her books as I breath air. I feel as if I am a character in the book, feeling the despair and the heartache, experiencing the never-ending war that seems to have no resolution, and hanging on to the thread of a hope that something can be done. Taylor moves us through the story, until we can see an ending. We can understand all the characters, their thoughts, motivations, actions and desires. We aren’t left wondering why did they do that? Or how did they get to this point? All is shown and taught and developed within us, until it is just a story that exists in our minds much like a fairy tale drilled into us from childhood. It doesn’t need explaining, it just is.

If Taylor had a drawback, it was this. She succumbed to the established author problem of over-writing the book. I’m not complaining. I’ll take as many novels as she’d like to produce, but she definitely could have shortened things up.We had two to three pages explaining a second in time and how it affected each and every person in the room, or drawn out descriptions of how someone felt in graphic detail. I enjoyed every second, don’t get me wrong, but only an established author with a strong following can get away with that. Oh, to have that pull some day!

And the ending. It was acceptable. I don’t need fairy-tale-perfect-everyone-lives-happily-ever-after. In fact, I don’t like those. You can’t go through hell and be Mary Poppins on the other side. Yes, I’m talking about you, Bella. And there are others, but I like my characters to suffer, and for the reader to understand that suffering doesn’t stop with THE END. So, Taylor makes sure we get a realistic ending. And I liked it. But she left it open. Is there another book? Is there another series? You can’t leave them with, “Oh, you saved the world, but now here’s another major catastrophe you need to fix. Good luck!” Or rather, you can’t leave ME with that! Dear God, woman! Have you no heart? Well, if there’s more to read: Yea! If not: Seriously?! I need a little more resolution than that.

My Review: 4.5/5 stars


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Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor


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Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (February 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316133981
ISBN-13: 978-0316133982
Amazon Review: 4.6/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is–and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Dear Ms. Taylor,
I do believe I am in love with you. Not love-love. I mean, you’re a woman and I’m a woman and we’re both straight, so, you know. And not stalker crazy-love either. Oh, no. I won’t be lying in wait outside your writing retreat to snap pictures of your lovely pink hair. I am most specifically talking about your writing. Yes, Daughter of Smoke & Bone was exceptional, and I began to feel my passion for your writing then, but it was this. This novel. Days of Blood & Starlight, that has cemented my undying affection . . .

Wait a second. This is supposed to be a book review, not a love letter to Laini Taylor. Sorry about that. Back on track!

As I’m sure you can surmise, I loved this book. Taylor has restored my wavering faith in YA authors. I know. I know. Ye of little faith. I didn’t really think that ALL YA authors needed to be sent to writing camp, but I have had a string of disappointments lately. And she’s given me a serious inferiority complex. My confidence in submitting my own novel has been sorely tested.

So I guess I’ll start off with the only thing that bothered me. Get it out of the way so I can gush about the good things later. I noticed this in Daughter of Smoke & Bone (you can read my review here) but It was sort of in the back of mind. It was brought to the fore front in this novel and here’s my issue. On several occasions in both the first and second books, Taylor describes the Chimaera as prizing a human aspect as beautiful. Maybe I missed something, and many Chimaera wanted to be their beastly selves (I say beastly with the utmost respect), but I found it strange that a people as varied as the Chimaera would see one aspect as more beautiful than all the rest. Wouldn’t cat-like Chimaera prize a feline face, and bird-like Chimaera want amazing feathers, and those with typical human aspects would like to see a human face. It bothered me that our (I mean human) prejudices would be placed on a people that would most likely appreciate that which was usual to them. I might be reading more into, but that was my one little problem through the whole book.

Now what did I like? Well, EVERYTHING! I love Taylor’s descriptive writing style. How she can describe a person, place, thing, emotion with prose that sings. Her words have the effect of making me forget I am reading a novel. And that is the one best thing an author can do for me. As I read, I forget I’m reading, and I’m just there. In the story. I see what Karou sees and feel what she feels. I understand Akiva’s pain and Liraz’s misgivings and when certain characters die, well, my emotional turmoil is pretty real.

Taylor also has a beautiful gift to see people. Really see them. She creates characters who are full and complete, with strengths and weaknesses. Real weaknesses too. Not just, they have a hot temper. No, these characters have thoughts and ideas and prejudices. They learn from mistakes, and sometimes they don’t. Their detailed pasts color their future and define their actions and Taylor lets us see it all. Even when someone does something we don’t like, we understand why. I was completely intrigued with the personalities and motivations of some of the side characters. Especially Liraz, a character who I started out disliking, but now am intensely interested to see where her story takes her.

There was a rape scene, and I won’t say much because I don’t want to be a spoiler, but it was hard to read. It was still YA appropriate, but it was difficult to see this character go through the ordeal she experienced, though Taylor handled it well. It was brutal. It was awful. And there was nothing remotely romantic about it. That’s how stuff like that should be portrayed, not the crap romance novels pass off as forbidden love. Rape is nasty in all circumstances.

And when Days of Blood & Starlight began, I didn’t see how Karou could ever forgive Akiva for what he had done. No matter what his reason, or thoughts, or motivation, what he did could never be undone. The deaths of so many people she loved was not something that can be gotten over. I still wasn’t convinced these star-crossed lovers would have a happy ending by the end of the second book, but at least I saw a path forward. And I don’t always need a blissfully happy ending. I just need a resolution. Sometimes those are happy, but mostly they just need to be realistic and believable. Taylor brought you along on Karou’s emotional journey, and boy was it a roller-coaster, and you were there with her and the possibilities of a future.

So, in closing, I loved it. I don’t know if it has awakened my enjoyment for fantasy, something I don’t read a lot, or if it’s just Taylor’s books I love, but I’m open to possibilities. I’ve actually already read Dreams of Gods & Monsters before I wrote this, so it was hard not to let that bleed in, but that review will be next.

My Review: 4.5/5


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Book review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


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Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031613399X
ISBN-13: 978-0316133999
Amazon Review: 4.5/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

 

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I borrowed this book from my local library

All right, this is going to be short and sweet. Maybe. I loved this book. I’m giving it a solid 4. It would get a 5, but I don’t actually read a lot of Fantasy, so it’s not entirely my thing, and there was one minor problem I had that I’ll get to later. Still, a 4 from me is high praise.

Sometimes you come across a book where the writing is so good you want to jot down all the nice little lines you find and share them with your blog readers. That was not this book. There were so many lines I couldn’t write them all down. I couldn’t take the time to analyze why Taylor is a good writer because I was so caught up in the beautiful prose and the amazing story that to dissect writing style would have been blasphemous. I had to just keep reading. Someday I may go back and read more critically, but this is the sort of book that makes me ecstatic I’m a book worm, and makes me want to keep at this writing thing. I was lost in the story, and that’s the way it should be.

I was a little concerned about the angel angle. I’ve read a few “angel books”, and I know there are a few hundred more out there because I pin them to my YA Books board on Pinterest all the time. So I’m a little sick of seeing them. Though I haven’t read them all, I felt like this was a somewhat fresh take on that angle. Now, I’m still a little tired of angels, but I’ll let it slide for this series. Bring them on!

My only problem was that sometimes there was too much to remember, imagine, understand. But that is more me than Taylor’s writing. Like I said, I don’t read a lot of Fantasy, though that may change, so my imagination muscles need to flex in this arena a bit more. The characters were so strange and fantastical it was sometimes difficult to fully realize them in my own mind. That’s on me, not Taylor, because she gave me the tools to work with, but I was just to caught up in the story. When I read it again, I’ll be able to take the time to draw a mental picture more thoroughly.

So basically, if you like Fantasy READ THIS! If you are on the fence about Fantasy, read it anyway, because it’s still grounded in reality. If you don’t like Fantasy, well, read it anyway. This might change your mind. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series, though I may force myself to wait since I have so many others stacked up. Or maybe not. We’ll see! :)-

My Review: 4/5 stars

What Do YA Readers WANT?!!

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Wouldn’t we authors like to know! Preferably, a good two years before YA readers actually want it, so we can write, edit, publish and market just in time to reach your ever changing moods, er needs. Just kidding. I read as much YA as the average teen, possibly more, so we’re in the same boat. I have wants of my own, and I also want to write a book that will resonate with readers.

Lucky for you, we have a little—just a little—insight into this very question. Recently Teens Can Write Too! ran a blog chain entitled What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? All of the respondents are teens who blog and write beyond their blogs. In fact, quite a few of them have some pretty amazing things to say, so when you’re finished reading this, check out their posts too.

While I was patiently—or not so patiently—waiting each day to read a new teen’s perspective on what they’d like to see published, I was also following a thread on Absolute Write entitled What would you like to see more or less of in YA? Between the two I was reading some great ideas about what books should be published in YA.

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Light bulb moment: I should compile the information and write a blog post about it!

Stress. Woman stressed

Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The sheer mass of data was daunting. It’s taken me hours to compile it into any sort of usable format. You can check the data here if you like. But I’ll try to make some kind of intelligent response, since I promised I would, and I always keep my promises!

Part of the problem is that I didn’t really know what I was doing while compiling the data. Now that I’m finished, I might have done it a little differently, but there is no way I’m doing it over again! It’s like having a term paper almost finished two days before it’s due, and realizing you should have taken a different approach. No ‘A’ is worth the work it would take to start over. Sorry, but I have a life. 🙂

And what everyone wants is as diverse as the respondents themselves. I saw everything from wanting fan fiction traditionally published to requesting a book from the POV of a toddler! Funnily enough, I did have the idea to write a novel about babies and toddlers who turn into teens when they fall asleep and wake up in a fantasy adventure. Yeah, I haven’t written that one yet.

But there were some clear winners, and losers, so if you want the nitty-gritty details, check out the data, but I’ll give you an overview of the most common responses in this post.

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22 teens responded to the question: What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? on the TCWT blog chain, while 40 respondents of an unidentified age responded to the question: What would you like to see more or less of in YA? on the Absolute Write Watercooler forums.

 

Dragon

Fantasy received the most votes for a genre with at least 34% of respondents requesting more in some form. I say at least because it was one of those cases where I would have tallied the votes differently in hind sight. I might have missed a few votes asking for a specific aspect of Fantasy without actually requesting Fantasy in and of itself. Anyway, you get the point.

There wasn’t any one type of Fantasy that was a stand-out winner, but many different kinds were mentioned. In fact, I got the impression that readers would like to see more pure, traditional fantasy, not other types of stories posing as Fantasy, i.e. Romance set in a Fantasy world, Dystopian set in a Fantasy world, etc. The one thing they did not want to see was more Fantasy worlds based on Medieval Europe or books based on Western (Greek/Roman) Mythology. Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian and Celtic were mentioned (I know Celtic is Western, but at least it’s something other than Zeus and Poseidon!)

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On a similar note, Science Fiction, which 17% of respondents requested more of, also seemed to center on more pure forms of its original genre. Readers especially seemed to dislike Dystopian disguised as Science Fiction. They want to see robots, cyborgs, cool technology that’s not the bad guy, and fun adventures that explore new worlds and revel in the joy of future technology and uncharted worlds.

Dystopia was a mixed bag with 9 readers wanting more while 5 wanted less or none. One thing was fairly clear though. Readers want something different than the tried-and-true Dystopia we’ve been experiencing over the last few years. Diversity, LGBTQ+, new settings, and most importantly, move away from the cliched tropes. No big, bad, government that’s outlawed something as the end-all of society and the rebel character fighting against it.

Re-tellings as a category received 10 nods, with respondents asking for non-traditional and non-European fairy tales, classics, Shakespeare, mash-ups and even re-tellings of Anne of Green Gables. One interesting note: only 1 of the 10 votes for re-tellings came from the unidentified age group. Clearly, teens are more interested in re-tellings than their older counterparts who read YA books.

Other than specific genres, another winner was seeing more Families in YA. 26% wanted to see healthy family units in some form, whether it’s present parents, quirky families, complex sibling dynamics, big families and any of the aforementioned relationships being the main emotional stake of the story.

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One of the clear losers was Romance. Not so much the genre of Romance, but rather romance in YA books in whatever genre it happens to appear. 26% of readers said they are completely tired of or would like to see less romance in YA books. 18% said they’d like to see fewer or no love triangles and no “insta love” stories. 9 respondents asked for healthy teen love relationships with a wide variety of realistic relationship requests from LGBTQ+ to mutual breakups to relationships that end and the characters actually learn from them.

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While there were many other responses I could talk about, the last one I’m going to discuss is Diversity. This was another category with a broad scope that I wish I had compiled the data differently. For example, 12 respondents requested diversity in all forms, while 16 specifically said they want novels where the diversity is not the issue of the book. I could have tallied all respondents that called for diversity in any form and had a large number of people wanting something more from their YA, but I didn’t do it that way. And since some readers requested multiple kinds of diversity, I couldn’t just add up all the specific requests because the number would have been inflated.

Anyway, over and over again I heard YA readers saying they wanted to read more about people of color, characters of all sexual orientations, people with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses, neuro-diversity and ethnic people living their culture in contemporary and futuristic settings. The one overriding theme to all of this was the diversity needed to be a part of a character’s life, and the readers want to see how it affects their lives, but it can’t be the point of the book. They want to see people of color in fantasy, a teen detective with Chron’s disease, a wheel chair bound action hero, and romance between characters of all sexual orientations. Those examples are made up based on some of the comments I read, but they’re pretty spot on from the types of diverse ideas they want to see written. They want to see a cross-section of America, and in some cases the world, that isn’t white, Christian and straight.

So, how do we use this information? Well, first of all it would be great to see agents and publishers take a look because my agent research has indicated that agents are looking for Contemporary right now. Yet that had extremely low response numbers from this completely unscientific poll. Unfortunately I don’t have any agents or publishers that follow my blog, so chances are slim for that. 😉

I guess, if you see your book in these results, then congratulations! Get working and get it published! If you see some inspiration in any or several of the requests made by these responses, then once again, get busy! You’ve got some writing to do! But, if you see your book in some of the requests for NO MORE!, well, don’t despair. Even these YA readers couldn’t all agree on what they wanted, so there are readers out there for all kinds of novels. Just keep writing what you love. It’s all any of us can do!

What Do YA Readers Want? – Data

22 teens responded to the question: What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? on the TCWT blog chain, while 40 respondents of an unidentified age responded to the question: What would you like to see more or less of in YA? on the Absolute Write Watercooler forums. This is the data.

The responses are organized and tallied as close as possible into pertinent categories with relevant subheadings. If a response has two numbers, the first is from the teen respondent group. If it has only one number, it could be from either group. If it has no number then it is either just a heading that no one specifically requested, or only one person requested it. Though I put things in my words for clarity, sometimes I used the respondents exact words. You should be able to tell!

Check out my post What Do YA Readers WANT?!! where I discuss the results.

22 Teen Respondents + 40 Unidentified Respondents

  • POV
    • Male (2) + (3) = 5
    • Multiple POVs (1) + (4) = 5Less first person POV (3)
      • Third person with multi POVs (4)
    • No series where each book is from a different person’s POV
  • ROMANCE – (Existence of, not genre)
    • Tired of Romance or less romance (7) + (9) = 16
      • More topics about things kids deal with
      • Sexual uncertainty and ambiguity
      • Characters embrace singularity
      • Tired of great stories being steamrolled by romance
    • LGBTQ+ Romance (4)
      • Not just 2 guys: explore other couple dynamics (2)
    • Less or no love triangles (5) + (6) = 11
      • Unless done well
      • At least change 2 boys after one girl formula
      • Don’t have girl end up with the guy who treated her like dirt
      • Make MC be the one who is chosen, not the chooser
    • Real love triangles with LGBTQ+ characters
      • a likes b, but b likes c, and c likes a
    • Clean Romance
    • Healthy teen love relationships (3) + (6) = 9
      • Romance done well w/ a slow build and deep commitment (2)
      • No abusive relationships with happy ending
    • Less “one true” or “insta” love (11)
      • See relationships fail
      • Be happy alone
      • Romances that don’t have happy ending
      • Relationships that end mutually
      • Stories where you learn from failed romance
      • Accepting flaws in partner and learning to live w/ problems
    • Books without romance, or at least where lack of romance isn’t central issue (2)
    • More romance
    • No more romances between “good girl” and paranormal “bad boy” (2)
      • At least reverse the cliché
    • Less glorified first kiss, first time having sex, etc.
    • YA satire of teens and their multiple forever-love affairs
  • DIVERSITY
    • Diversity in general (9) + (3) = 12
      • All forms
      • Not secondary characters
      • Asian or half-Asian
      • Help those of us who don’t care about seeing diversity have an opportunity to see it
      • Chronically ill
      • Physically disabled
    • LGBTQ+ Characters (4) + (5)
      • Romance
      • Explore all kinds of orientation
      • Question sexuality and don’t necessarily resolve by end of book
      • Gay older mentor characters shouldn’t be stereotypical
      • Friendships between LGBTQ+ characters and also straight characters
      • Asexual characters
      • Honest-to-God Lesbians
    • LGBTQ+ Series
    • No diversity issues (8) + (8) = 16
    • Characters w/ diverse hobbies
    • Diverse group of misfits
    • Ethnic Americans living their culture (5)
      • Contemporary stories
      • Futuristic stories (2)
      • Afrotruism (3)
    • Diverse authors writing about their own culture
    • Characters of color where color is not the issue (4)
    • Translations of international YA books
    • Characters with disabilities (2)
      • Disability not the issue
    • Neuro-diversity (2)
      • Important to character development but not the issue of the novel
      • Like Carrie in Homeland – bipolar, but not the story
  • CHARACTERS
    • Detailed character descriptions – paint a picture
    • Female
      • Smart nerdy girl who gets the hot guy
      • Diversity in female fantasy characters
      • Believable females – not always kick-ass, can be weak, intelligent, have to deal w/ emotions, solve problems w/ intelligence not brawn
      • Strong female characters (4)
        • Bad-ass girly girls like Buffy (2)
    • Well developed characters
    • White characters should get sunburned
    • More anti-heroes who carve their own way to hell (2) + (3) = 5
      • Morally ambiguous
      • POV of antagonist
      • Don Draper
      • Walter White
      • Also females
      • Use chessmaster skills to achieve their means
    • Homeless characters in a big city
    • Books from POV of toddler
    • Families (4) + (12) = 16
      • Big families (2)
      • Present parents (1) + (5) = 6
      • Healthy family units
      • Quirky/original family dynamics (3)
      • Rich, complicated sibling dynamics
      • Relationships focused on friends/siblings/parents not LI (4)
    • Characters who step out of their bubble
    • Large cast of characters with secondary characters we care about (7)
      • Quirky secondary characters
      • No more lame secondary characters who only exist to highlight MCs perfections/purity (2)
    • Fewer quirky characters who only like media from past generations
    • Quirky fun characters
    • Characters who learn from mistakes; especially communication
    • Complex adults – less stock or cardboard adult characters
    • Less sarcasm, snark and characters who try too hard to be funny
    • Less “chosen ones” in stories that don’t follow the structure
    • Less angst ridden orphans with black hair
    • Characters from the southern United States
    • Normal, likable religious characters who are not hypocritical
    • Kind-hearted/nice/benevolent rich/privileged protagonists
    • Characters who aren’t rich or privileged
  • PLOT
    • No books w/ open endings
    • Tired of MC has to change the world
    • Plot like National Treasure where unconnected clues lead to big finale
    • Less commercially viable formulas and more unexpected (3)
      • MG quirkiness
      • Unpredictable plot twists
    • Well researched and not cliched or stereotypical
    • Road trip stories
    • Realistic deaths
    • Less characters being confronted by overwhelming odds only to be saved by someone else at the last second
    • Deal with social topics (4)
      • Politics
      • Ethics
      • Religion
      • Real issues that aren’t afraid to be dark
      • Male POV
      • Characters who suffer from slut-shaming and bullying is actually addressed (2)
        • Victim responds by becoming successful and moving on
    • Less depressing books (4)
      • No grief/suicide as main issue (2)
    • Optimistic fun adventures (2)
    • Family as main emotional stake (2)
    • Plot driven books with twists and turns (2)
    • No megacorp/government bad guys and resistance good guys (6)
      • or reverse it, how about average citizen comes in conflict with more than one-note government
    • Unpredictable twists, especially in mysteries and thrillers
    • No more mean girls/bullies against MC (2)
  • SETTINGS
    • Unusual settings (2)
    • Locations other than U.S. (1) + (6) = 7Settings in the southern United States
      • Obscure countries
      • Coming of age stories in obscure countries
      • Stories about people of different cultures in those cultures
      • Scotland
      • Asian location with Asian characters
    • Vivid settings that pay close attention to details (2)
      • Not average American town with no distinguishing features
  • GENRE
    • Fantasy (9) + (12) = 21
      • LOTR
      • Dragons
      • LGBTQ+ (2)
      • Sea stories
      • Diversity (2) + (2) = 4
        • Non-white MC
      • High/epic (1) + (2) = 3
      • Mermaids (1) + (1) = 2
      • No vampires
      • Non-Greek/Roman mythology (2) + (1) = 3
      • Egyptian mythology
      • Celtic Mythology
      • Non-western mythologies
        • Japanese
        • Chinese
      • More books like SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series
      • More Arthurian legend books like Gerald Morris’
      • Second world fantasy with well-constructed world
      • Not medieval England-like setting (2)
      • Diverse Settings
      • Multiversal
      • Powerful female characters
      • Cool magic systems (3)
      • No more steampunk
      • Lady pirates (could be historical fiction too)
      • No more fantasy or speculative fiction
    • Magical Realism and Paranormal
      • Cool magic systems (3)
      • Less paranormal
      • New paranormal beings besides vampires, werewolves, angels, etc.
      • Less realism and more surrealism – cross-over contemporary with paranormal (2)
      • Less supernatural academies
      • Urban Fantasies (2)
        • Settings other than NY
        • Settings in Europe other than Victorian London
        • Everything but the kitchen sink – not just one supernatural being
    • Science Fiction (4) + (6) = 10
      • Pure sci-fi
      • Cyborgs & robots (1) + (1) = 2
        • Giant robots
      • LGBTQ+
      • Diversity of all kinds
      • Not dystopia (1) + (2) = 3
      • Space opera (2)
      • Diverse Settings
      • Multi-planet, plane or dimension
      • Fun adventures where science and technology are desirable, not the bad guy
      • High powered settings with flashy powerful magic or technology
    • Contemporary (2)
      • More books like John Green’s
      • More books like WONDER
      • Less issue books
      • Realistic summer camps
      • Less John Green clones
      • Less Eleanor & Park clones
      • No more contemporaries based on a big secret that’s revealed later in book
    • Dystopia (2) + (7) = 9
      • No or less dystopia (1) + (4) = 5
        • Especially post-apocalyptic cliche
      • LGBTQ+ especially w/ romance subplot
      • Well-constructed worlds that pass logic test
      • Outside U.S. Settings
      • Move away from tropes and cliches (2)
        • Controlling government
        • Ceremony signaling adulthood at beginning
        • One-not government tyranny (love outlawed or something)
        • Use other forms of dystopian
    • Re-tellings (10)
      • Fairy Tale (5) + (1) = 6
        • Non-typical fairy tales (2)
      • Shakespeare (2)
      • Classic literature
      • Mash ups (2)
      • Anne of Green Gables
    • Historical Fiction (7) + (1) = 8
      • Based on an event, not romance
      • French Revolution
      • Braveheart
      • Asia
      • LGBTQ+ (2)
      • Diversity of all kinds
      • Historical mixed with fantasy/immortality/time travel
      • Fiction books on The Monuments men and how they recovered the art
      • All kinds
      • Include 20th century
      • More 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and centered around music
    • Mysteries (6) + (4) = 10Post-apocalyptic
      • Agatha Christie (2)
      • Dorothy Sayers
      • Irene Hannon
      • Dee Henderson
      • Prolific
      • Teen detectives that aren’t Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys
    • Thriller/Suspense/Espionage (3)
      • YA books similar to Tom Clancy’s books
      • More Ian Fleming/John Gardner type James Bond (less girls, more guns)
      • Books like those written by Jill Patton Walsh (detective?)
    • Horror (2)
      • Contemporary
      • Psychological
    • Creative genres (1) + (1) = 2Alternate histories
      • mix it up with sub genres
      • Don’t just stick to establishment
      • Like Grasshopper Jungle
    • Classics (2)
      • Oscar Wilde
    • Literary
      • Books that focus on word craft like Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower
      • Not purple prose
  • RANDOM
    • Fan Fic/Books by friends/Books by me (4)
    • More series (2)
    • More humor (4) + (1) = 5The last of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books
      • Hitchhiker’s Guide
      • Clean
      • Subtle and intelligent
      • Absurdist but meaningful
      • Puns
    • Groundbreaking books
    • YA with illustrations like Miss Peregrine’s
    • Scrafy in the Middle
    • A YA novel/series akin to Welcome to Night Vale Podcast series
    • Stand alones
    • Stories influenced by anime/manga
    • No clones of anything already big
    • Unique format like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, or Lover’s Dictionary
    • Originality
    • Weirdness/ambiguity