I’ve already done a similar post to this (topics that would make me pick up a book), but I tried to come up with some different things that I just don’t see in books as much as I’d like.
Mythology in YA has been growing lately, but I don’t know if I would call it “real” mythology. In real myths, the gods and goddesses are all full of themselves, screwed-up, and could really not care less about puny humans for the most part. They’re immortal, and they just don’t spend their time chasing around humans unless it’s for one night of fun. Yes, the immortal powers, especially the male ones, like chasing humans around just to have sex with them and then abandon them – sometimes it’s not even consensual. The gods are messed up, yet they often seem quite sanitized in YA. They’re whiny, angsty gods who are either in love with or jealous of the boring protagonist, or something like that. Come on, keep the gods screwed up – they’re not supposed to be people we want to emulate, they’re not even supposed to really be human at all!
Dysfunctional families can be quite interesting to read about, but it’s also nice to see families that can actually function on a daily basis. Functional doesn’t mean they don’t have problems, they just tend to deal with them better. You need to draw the drama from something else, and we as readers can just enjoy reading the adorable moments with a family that actually works. I’m not saying that all families have to be perfect – in fact, functional doesn’t equal perfect nor do I want perfect families – I just want more of a variety, more families like the Garretts from My Life Next Door or the Cassons from The Casson Family or the Olivers from The Ruby Oliver Quartet. These families all have their quirky and imperfect moments, but they still work as a family and don’t feel like they’re all one second from falling apart.
I want small to medium to large towns and cities that just feel alive, like they’re characters of their own. I want to dream about moving to the towns I escape to in books. I want to feel like I’m actually in it while I read the book.
Protagonists working in family businesses can add stress, drama, and entertainment to a book. Some family businesses are quirky, some are unique, and some are boring yet surpass that boredom by bringing more character and fun to the book. It can be the focus of the story or something in the background, it can be a source of embarrassment or stress – it doesn’t really matter. It can add to the story, and that’s what I’m interested in.
I know, I have a lot about families that I want – the family aspect is often what keeps stories interesting for me. Reading about large families, with many different characters and personalities, is definitely one of my favorite things. Large families can simply be four or five kids, or can be closer to ten or so – it doesn’t really matter. I just have one sister, so I’ve always been jealous of larger families, and I love getting the chance to see large, functional families in the books I read.
As I write this, it’s New Year’s Eve (yes, I am happily very far ahead on posts at the moment) – the new year is about to begin, Christmas has just passed, and the holiday season of the last few months of the year is just about to end. Holidays are such a big part of our life, yet I feel like they rarely show up in books. If they do, it’s a quick side note, a way of hand-waving the fact that nothing is happening at the moment because of course the protagonists can’t go off saving the world while they’re also celebrating Thanksgiving! I want to see holidays and the traditions surrounding them, especially in contemporary books.
I love having any kinds of pets or animals in books, but there’s one specific thing that I hate: when the animals get killed off! I will love your book if it has animals (ok, maybe not love, but it’ll definitely be a point in the book’s favour) but if you dare kill off the animal or make it suffer in any way, there’s a very good chance that I’ll throw away the book and rush to one of my own pets and hug them until I feel like the world is a happy place again. DON’T KILL ANIMALS IN YOUR BOOKS! It’s just mean.
I don’t like insta-love, but even slightly-quick-moving romance isn’t as good as a slow burn romance. I prefer the kind of romance where there are a lot of adorable moments, almost kisses, and slight (but very slight and small) amounts of angst, all leading up to the couple becoming a couple in the last few chapters or so. The lovey-dovey moments of a relationship are rarely better than the adorable moments leading up to the beginning of a relationship, at least in books.
Now, I won’t focus on the fact that so many dystopians seem to be the same thing, or anything like that. I’m not saying that dystopians don’t have a place in our future (I mean, our world is pretty screwed up at times), but for once, I’d like a couple of futuristic books where things are actually going well. I don’t want utopians necessarily, but quasi-utopians, where things are going pretty well, would be great. I want the drama and tension and antagonism to come from something other than a controlling government and sucky environment – I want new things, not more of the same!
I know that things wouldn’t be perfect if women ran the world – and that’s certainly an interesting thing to look at in books – but do all dystopians/fantasy/etc. books have to revert to societies where women are second-class citizens and treated like nothing more than fragile baby-makers? We don’t need books where the protagonist is the one exception, where they’re the only ones who realize that things need to change. We need to see more matriarchal societies – some might show that things wouldn’t be perfect with female leaders, but some might actually show that things could be a bit better with equal representation. We live in a world run by men, with many people with similar societies and worlds – is it really too much to ask to have just a tiny bit of variety?