5 Biggest Cliches in YA Romance

Recently, I’ve spent some time working my way through the bestseller list of YA romance fiction – everything from John Green to hit debuts such as ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon, which was recently made into a movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. But for now I’m done with YA fiction and going back to my usual genre of world lit, classics and general gritty depressing stories that leave me in existential doubt for days afterwards. As charming as it sometimes is to indulge in the idealistic world of manic pixie dream girls (MPDGs), deep conversations under the stars and passionate, obsessive love affairs, it’s all starting to feel a bit fake. Here are the 5 biggest cliches that I think have been way overdone in YA these days:

  1. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s beautiful. She’s deep. She’s probably a metaphor. She’s ‘broken’ but ‘strong’ and wants to make cryptic remarks about the meaning of life on a rooftop at 3am. She’s ‘not like the other girls’ because she’s a special snowflake and apparently has the ability to understand life better than everyone else, despite being a teenager with no actual life experience. Most likely she has a mental illness that’s probably being romanticised by the male love interest. Examples: basically anything written by John Green, pretty much ever.
  2. The MPDGs favourite activity? Astronomy of course. Because relating everything in your life to the workings of the universe automatically makes you deep apparently. Sorry, no. It doesn’t make you deep. It makes you sound kind of egotistical and occasionally like a bad science textbook. Example: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  3. The dead parent/sibling/relative trope. Quite often it just seems like a lazy attempt to remove the adults from the story so the author doesn’t have to write them. In reality, family relationships are a pretty damn huge part of teenager’s lives. It’d be nice to see some more YA novels accurately reflect that.
  4. Romanticising mental illness. This one worries me. While I have read some books which have given the topic the gravity it deserves (Laurie Halse Anderson does this excellently) I’ve also read many more that treat it as ‘teenage angst’ or an interesting quirk to make the character seem broody, mysterious and ultimately more attractive. Yeah, no. Just don’t. Being depressed isn’t sexy, it’s just extremely unpleasant and soul-destroying really.
  5. Instalove! Because why spend valuable pages on having the characters actually get to know each other when they could be discussing the stars and their undying love instead.

What tropes and cliches do you hate in YA fiction? 

On a side note, if you want to make me super happy please go download my new novel ‘This Really Happened’ here. It’s FREE for the next four days!

17 thoughts on “5 Biggest Cliches in YA Romance

  1. Ugh, I absolutely hate John Green’s novels! I’m definitely in the minority among my mates, who all burst into tears at Fault in Our Star’s endings – which I read in my chemistry class while stifling a yawn (whoops.) It feels like every main character in a John Green novel is just a mini John Green spouting ‘deep’ dialogue far beyond their years. Anyway, I really liked your list and it made me smile. I have one to add, especially after the atrocious ‘Kissing Booth’: The supposed feminist who strips, has sex and claims to be an independent woman, but is controlled by an abusive ‘bad boy’, and spends most of her time wondering about the perception of guys around her.


  2. Don’t ALL romance novels follow this route? Pretty much why we no longer review them lol. Do you mind if I republish this on my blog with a link to your original post? If yes, feel free to shoot me a short bio and a photo to include in the about the author section. Thanks! 😊


  3. I love YA lit, but I hate the romance in it… and you have pretty much articulated why (also, the dreaded love triangle… WHY?!). Thanks for making me laugh/not making me feel alone in my dislike of YA love 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hate instalove!
    So I’ll be reading a book, finding it semi-interesting, nothing much happening, and then boom! All of a sudden, the main character declares some other character we met three pages ago her one true love.

    Yes, main characters do love star-gazing don’t they.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve noticed that romanticized abuse in relationships is something that is increasingly common in YA fiction as well as fiction in general, and it quite seriously troubles me. The main character having abusive parents and/or siblings is also something I’ve read a lot in YA fiction as well.

    Liked by 2 people

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