“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of pep-rallies–and lockers–and hair gel–of prom queens–and kings–“

Just kidding. It’s time to break down the end of the HYoYA.

halfyear-youngadult

I’ll admit this upfront: I cheated a little. Some research had to be done for language learning and novel writing. I’ll do better next time. Maybe.

For a good, two-page list of the books I read this challenge, see the Goodreads shelf here. Not all books are rated.

Let’s talk about the problems listed in the introductory post.

1. Romance

This one actually didn’t drive me crazy–until I looked through my handy little reading list. Of the books that did have romantic themes as primary or important secondary plots, all of them were written by women. What the hell, men? Give us some smooches and crushes. Alternatively: What the hell, women? High school love triangles aren’t that important to a coming-of-age story.

The above comments may sound a little confusing. What I want is more balance. Fewer stereotypes. May I have that? Or do all high school women walk around complaining about boyfriends? I sure didn’t. Two of the male authors I read dealt with protagonists who weren’t quite at the age to be interested in girls. The other protagonist was in jail, so can you blame him? Maybe my irritation here is more for women authors, or perhaps more male authors need to feature romance. What do you think?

2. Dystopia

I didn’t find a lot of these. Hunger Games (Collins) and Divergent (Roth) were on my reading list because of current media rave/rage (pick your poison) but otherwise there wasn’t an abundance of dystopia. The new Spider-man got a little surprising when, in the third volume (spoiler:) the country started going to shit, but Marvel is trying to figure themselves out right now. There are so many crossovers happening in Marvel right now, so it’s going to take me a while to catch up. Keep it up, people.

A currently over-looked novel that I recall being popular is City of Ember (duPrau). It’s a post-apocalyptic mystery of corruption(!) and I might actually continue the series because I’m dying to know more about its world. Although it was more of a children’s dystopia, it’s worth a look.

3. Representation

As I thought, a lot of characters and authors were predominately white. 10/13 of the novels read were written by women, while only 4/20 graphic novel series were written by women.

In comics, the writers were typically white males. Granted, I didn’t look up or list all the artists from any comic.

I was so, so glad to see a character with Indian heritage in Chasing Shadows (Avasthi), but then, in most of the novels I read afterward, the representation paled.

At least we have Miles Morales in the newest Spider-man (Bendis), who is all kinds of adorable and becomes a more tortured hero than I believe Peter Parker ever was. Plus, don’t forget Ganke. Don’t ever forget Ganke.

As a person who happens to be white, I’d like to say I’m also tired of characters looking the same. I’m trying to fix that in my own novels. I really am (and it’s not even that difficult to do). Let me also go on a mini-rant here and say I could not, for the life of me, tell the difference between four white male characters in the Divergent movie, and they were usually all in the same room together! It was like watching an ABC Family marathon.

I need to have another HYoYA just to seek out more representations of people. I know for a fact there are more culturally diverse novels. I have seen them myself at the library! During this challenge, though, I tended to focus first on plots that intrigued me in my random book-binging, and second on reading lists thrust upon me by others.

Well, my friends, it’s time for me to thrust a list upon you! The following novels are my top five from this challenge based on writing and story alone and they’re somewhat diverse in terms of authors and main characters. (Click on these Goodreads links. You know you want to.)

Chasing Shadows Double Monster
Batman: The Long Halloween Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol.1
What makes these five books great? All of these authors aren’t afraid of quieter moments. They’re able to find meaning in the smallest things. This is a quality I’m trying to sophisticate in my own writing, so these authors’ efforts are worth a lot to me.

In conclusion, this was a great half-year of guilty pleasures. I’m not the least bit sorry most of the books I read were comics. Superheroes are getting a larger, much deserved fanbase, and this must include teenagers based on all the merchandise you see in department stores. I’m finally, once again able to embrace some of the first fandoms I had as a child.

Will I do this challenge again? Absolutely. When? Maybe not during the same time next year. I have a month-long challenge coming up, which I’ll announce in a few weeks. After that, I should decide between this and four other potential reading challenges. Whenever I do another Half-Year of Young Adult, it will have a more tailored approach.

Read all my posts on the challenge here, in the Young Adult Challenge category on this blog.

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