Writing

Pondering The Paranormal YA Couple

I love YA.  Or more specifically paranormal YA (right off hand I can’t think of any non-paranormal YA in my must-have pile).  I’ve read loads of it, watched a bunch on TV.  There are certain types I gravitate toward, others I really hate, and some I’ve never seen.

I really dig it when both hero and heroine (of course there are both–we all know I’m a romance junkie) are both teens.  Regardless of where the supernatural fits in–for one or both of them–if they’re both teens, then they both tend to have similar maturity levels.  That usually works for me (as long as the author did a good job of writing them as actual teens and not as twelve year olds in adult bodies, which was the bulk of YA when I WAS that age).

But that doesn’t always happen in paranormal YA.  Because when you get into the paranormal, you end up with creatures that are immortal or really ancient–vampires, angels, whatever the heck that guy was in Evermore, fairies, whatever.  What often happens in these cases is that half the pairing is paranormal and half human.  If there has BEEN a case where the human half was a teenage guy and the paranormal half some kind of immortal chick, I can’t think of one.  More often it’s an immortal guy and a human teenage girl.  Okay, fine.  That can work for me sometimes, as long as the heroine is not a moron.  I’ve definitely read my fill of teenage heroines acting like selfish, spoiled, too-stupid-to-live teenagers, which always make me want to toss the book against a wall, because what on EARTH (or beyond) is this much more mature immortal/paranormal creature seeing in a true teenage girl who acts like the stereotypical teenage girl?  I’m sure that’s why nobody makes human teenage boy + ancient/immortal paranormal chick pairings.  There are enough maturity issues between REAL teenage girls and boys.  Nobody would believe it!

Hubs and I have talked often about the human teenage girl + vampire pairing, usually in context of Twilight.  He finds the whole thing creepy and unbelievable.  I say it depends on whether the lore of that vamp story says that the vampire stays (maturity wise) exactly the age at which he is turned or if the vamp continues to emotionally mature over time.  I felt like Edward still acted like a teenager (a total, creepy-ass stalker teen with serious emo issues, but still a teen).  This was the problem I had with Evermore.  I found Ever to be incredibly immature and freaking annoying, and I could NOT understand (even with this reincarnation thing they had going on), why the hero (whose name I CANNOT remember) was into her, because he seemed like an adult.  I’m starting to feel the same way about Luce in Torment, which I’m currently listening to in audio. Apart from ENDLESS and repetitive rhapsodizing about Daniel’s wings, she’s constantly doing stupid shit that puts her in danger, even though multiple very powerful and responsible people (i.e. angels and demons and others) have told her that she IS in danger and she needs to stay put at the school with the cloaking spell or whatever.  That puts her into Too Stupid To Live in my mind.  Daniel, for the most part, seems like an adult.

That’s actually probably an issue for me overall.  Really immature teens.  I was NEVER an immature teen myself (seriously, ask my mother.  I’ve been 30 since I was 5), so I cannot relate to characters who are.  Heroines in particular.  Most of my friends were incredibly mature at that age (it was always the boys who did stupid shit because, hello, that stereotype of immature teenage boy and the fact that they lag behind girls by a few years until adulthood, exists for a reason), and all of the awesome heroes and heroines I gravitate to are likewise.  That’s not to say they NEVER act like teenagers…but I think that you can write about mature teens who still deal with very teen issues (identity, doing the right thing vs. what the crowd is doing, peer pressure, first love, friendships, etc.) without sounding like grownups who are just a little shorter or whatever.

That’s definitely what I’m trying to do with Red.  Elodie is facing some big-time, serious stuff that’s forced her to grow up way before her time.  So her approach to the world is incredibly adult.  It’s some of the other issues she faces that bring out the teen.  Hopefully real teens will relate to that when it’s released.

So what about you?  If you’re a YA fan, what stuff burns your biscuits and is a huge turnoff?  What do you love to see?

15 thoughts on “Pondering The Paranormal YA Couple

  1. I kind of prefer more mature teens. It’s more believable to see them in these situations because an average one would be too self-involved to live through the adventure and too annoying for me to care about. I also like seeing the seemingly average teen become something more as a result of their adventure. When extreme stuff happens, it changes you. What’s more extreme than fighting vampires and other paranormal beings?

    If any part of their teenyness remains, it’s the hyper emotion, but not in the average teen way. Like the way Buffy wanted to almost forget everything Angel did when he went evil. She’s still an above average teen, but has those teen moments of emotional decsion making. Would she have thought that way ten years later? Maybe, maybe not.

    I agree about immortal guy being into the teen girl. It can be weird if not handled a certain way.

  2. I was also an “old” teenager. Not necessarily in every way, but in most ways. I was always the “psychologist” of the group.

    I’m not a YA fan unless the book is REALLY good. I don’t mind an immature teenager if that person matures through the course of the story. I kind of like the growing process. But total immaturity through the whole thing gets old.

  3. I agree. Really immature teen girls piss me off. Sure we all did stupid stuff as kids but my definition of stupid stuff was far from the realm of some of these girls. I also am not fond of it when you’ve got a romance where the guy is telling the teen he loves her AND showing her by being there for her and doing things that could either get him killed or get him in HUGE trouble or like say banished to hell to be with her but she’s super insecure to the point of making me nauseous. I understand we’re all insecure sometimes and if there is reason to question the guy and his motives, maybe a thought or two but sometimes it’s like, come on, really.

    1. This made me think of Bella in New Moon. While nothing about her character annoyed me too much in Twilight, she just dove off the deep end in New Moon. Yes, it’s true that people get dumped all the time. Sometimes for no apparent reason, in fact. But the fact that she actually believed Edward annoyed the crap out of me. She was suffering from that same phenomena that people in horror movies suffer from–they act like they’ve never seen a horror movie before and act stupid accordingly. Bella acted like she’d never seen a single movie or read a single book with a romantic plot. Let’s see, you guys were all lovey dovey and that lovey dovey got you hurt. No duh your boyfriend is going to blame himself and distance himself from you in order to “protect you”. This plot is so overused it’s practically cliche. Her reaction just annoyed me on so many levels.

  4. My biggest turn off in YA fiction? When older writers (I’d say at least over 35-40) try to sound ‘hip’. You know, when teenagers sound kinda, like, you know, so totally like, hip and cool and whatever… I’ve mostly seen this when established writers try to dip their toes into the YA pool for the first time. We all know your average teenager isn’t going to win an award for eloquence, but dear god, to read a whole book of gringe-worthy narration like that? It makes my eyes bleed. The occasional dialogue is one thing, especially when it’s used to make a point. Bimbo cheerleaders are allowed to talk like that, but when the narrative voice speaks like an ‘authentic’ teenager, it’s just too much.

    I absolutely love mature teenager heroes/heroines, especially in paranomal YA. I don’t think I ever was a teen myself. I went from tween to twenty, for better or worse. Because of this, I do worry about the authenticity in the teen characters in my writing, though. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they have limited life experience and thus would sometimes do immature and irrational things.

    And your remark about the fact that most of the pairings are a normal girl and paranormal guy is completely dead on. Most women want a guy who is mature (or just not a dumbass), and unfortunately, that usually means a guy who is older, which in paranomal terms usually translates into ancient. I’m sure there are examples of the normal guy and paranormal girl out there (I think one of Christopher Pike’s is like this…?) but to me, at least, it does seem like a bigger pill to swallow.

    Thanks for the great post! This was fun to think about. I had more to say than I originally thought…

  5. I’m with you on this one, Kait. Never felt like a teenager even when I was one and it’s hard to read books where teens – especially girls – are behaving like idiots with no self-esteem.
    On the other hand, one can always take things too far… Some of the earliest drafts of my MG (the first MG I’d ever written) had my 13/14 year old boy talking like an old man. Oops!

  6. Not being into YA at all I only have hearsay to go on, which is highly suspect, however I have watched the entire Buffy collection and found something of value in just about every episode and great value in many of them… perhaps it helps that Joss Whedon is an eternal teenager .. and therein lies the truth of the matter … the writer!

  7. Well, I tried to do it, I don’t know. My girl is the more mature of the pair, overall. In some ways she’s been an adult for a long time. She’s also socially retarded, and has insecurities that keep her in teen girl territory. That makes her able to be a match for the boy, who is less mature and struggling some growing up stuff.

    Strange Angels seemed to have a good, equal pairing. (I only finished the first book before I got sidetracked.)

    1. Yeah but your teens are the same age. There’s not one that has vastly more life experience than the other (as in years from a paranormal standpoint). THAT’S the pairing I don’t think works when it’s the older woman and younger man.

  8. I agree with you 100% – immature teen characters (especially those who don’t grow throughout the novel) are irritating and make me want to put the book down.

  9. I really enjoyed reading the Twilight series, but I can’t watch the movies, precisely because Edward in the movie behaves like a teenager even though he’s well over 90! I just refuse to believe that your age when you died dictates your maturity for ever more. Whether or not you’re breathing, if you’ve been hanging around on Earth for decades, you’ll learn and grow.
    What bothers me more than immature characters, is characters who are too stupid to live and conflict for conflict’s sake. I’ve long given up on reading a book through to the end if I’m not hooked and willing to suspend disbelief. 🙂

  10. What I don’t like. I like almost every YA I’ve read (or listened to) except for one. Princess Diaries. I mean, I loved the movie. Then, I listened to the audio and Mia had this annoying voice that complained a lot about herself. I wasn’t like that growing up (I identify more with Bella Swan). Nothing against Meg Cabot but I just can’t identify with Mia. In fairness, I loved Avalon High (I just didn’t like the movie).

    That’s what I don’t like with YA’s… The ones I can’t identify to

  11. What do you mean by “mature teens”? Mature teen as in they are straight A students who never drink, make curfew, always check in with their parents and don’t lie to their parents about where they’ve been (or are going)? That would be my personal defenition of a ‘mature teen’ and very few GIRLS fit that description (same with boys, as you pointed out). I don’t subscribe to the notion that females are more mature than males as teens because what reason would they have to be? Teen girls “develope physically” at a faster rate than boys but that’s it. Just look how they jump arouns and scream over Twilight for example. How often do you see teen boys acting like that? It’s always teen girls acting crazy and going out of control. They are emotionally unstable, and the Twilight phenom pulled the lid off of it for everyone to see. And it’s not the first time.

    Glad you like paranormal romance, though. That’s nice.

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