Stop it already

The next Young Adult book I read where all the pop culture refs are from the 1980s when it’s supposed to be set now, well, that book I set on fire.1

I’ve had it with these lazy authors. You wanna write about your teenage years? Then bloody set it then! You’re allowed. There’s no law that says it has to be set in the here and now.

I can buy one or two characters who are obsessed with the eighties (though I have no idea why they would be but, hey, I hear some people are obsessed with cars, and Englishmen, and chewing gum wrappers—people are weird) but I cannot buy an entire novel set in the 2000s where all popular culture came to a grinding halt in 1990. A world without reality TV, manga,2 Micheal Hussey, Antony & the Johnsons, Beyonce, Brokeback Mountain, Harry Potter or Meg Cabot. C’mon already!

Your development may have arrested back then but the world has moved on. Try to reflect that in your novels set NOW. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

Grrr. Bloody buggery eighties. They sucked. I was there. I know.

Is there anything you keep seeing over and over in a particular genre that drives you insane? Rant away! (Though try not to name specific writers. You know how I feel about making writers cry.)

  1. Carbon emissions be damned. (I don’t really mean that. Honest.) []
  2. I know manga existed and was popular in the eighties but not the way it is now. []


  1. Ally on #

    yeah me! i havnt read the post yet but i wanted to be first haha
    okay i read it

    first off i have no idea what manga is
    senond i hate preppy girl books. they are everywhere and stuff like that doesnt happen. all my friends are preppy and they are nice people and the “leader” of the “group” absolutly hates sterotype people. People don’t go in the halls pushing books out of peoples hands and the preppy people don’t go around “ruling the school” i hate it!

    hehe i feel better

  2. Ally on #

    okay i was bored so i looked up manga. So, is it those japanese comic things? or some other manga..because i know what those comic things are but i didnt know the name..they look confusing don’t you like read them backwards and right to left?

  3. Veronica on #

    A world without reality TV, manga**, Micheal Hussey, Antony & the Johnsons, Beyonce, Brokeback Mountain, Harry Potter or Meg Cabot.

    Wow…you’ve just made the 1980s sound like…heaven. Actually, you had me at “a world without reality TV.”

  4. cecil on #

    oh, I hate writers that do that. that is a definite pet peeve. Also, it’s lazy!

  5. Rebecca on #

    “People don’t go in the halls pushing books out of peoples hands and the preppy people don’t go around “ruling the school”

    funny, but every so often, i find myself thinking about that. my high school was definitely not your run of the mill adolescent prison, but i still don’t see how it’s normal in any school for people to act the way they do in movies, or in books sometimes. like everyone in a college class laughing at a kid and calling him names, for example. right there in the class in front of other people or professors. it would be an understatement to describe my current school as prep city (or fake tan/popped collar city or rich white brat city, etc.), but still, even here, no one is like that. maybe it’s ’cause the actual city i’m in is pretty easygoing overall and things would be different if i were in a more conservative town. but i can’t see people acting that way. and it really annoys me when they do in books, ’cause i just don’t buy it. maybe at the middle school level i would. but even middle school wasn’t so much about the out-in-the-open in-your-face type of meanness. it was mostly the behind-your-back or the subtle-put-downs or the not-quite-accidents. when things heated up, sure stuff was said out loud and plainly for all to hear, but it just wasn’t as blatant as a lot of books (and even more movies) make it seem.

    and also, i may have mentioned this before, but monster vampires annoy the crap out of me. and sometimes vengeful angry ghosts too, usually if they don’t have a good explanation for why they are vengeful or angry and the only reason they are is because they are ghosts. if people are morons, they need to have a reason to be morons. and they can be all moron all the time. everyone has good and bad. the whole evil ghost/evil vampire/evil dictator/evil take-your-pick just really irritates me.

    i am with veronica on the reality tv. *shudder* 😛 however, on the whole, i don’t much like 80’s pop stuff either. especially some of the popular clothing and hair styles. *double shudder* although if i’d been a teenager in the 80’s, it would have been a hell of a lot easier for me to do my hair. all i’d have to do is let it run wild and free, and all the girls using thirteen cans of hairspray and teasing in the bathroom between classes would have been sooooo jealous. 😉 😀

  6. Rebecca on #

    “and they can be all moron all the time.”

    i meant that they can’t be all moron all the time. *sigh*

  7. David Moles on #

    Well, you know, if your target market isn’t real teenagers but rather 30something YA readers…

  8. jennifer, aka literaticat on #

    if i read one more fecking manuscript where the protag has some embarrassing incident in the cafeteria in the first chapter, i will commit seppuku.

  9. Elmo on #

    Just out of interest, what is seppuku?

    My pet peeve is books that ask you to accept something really weird, with no stup to it:
    eg. Vampire book, set in 2005-8 (or whatever)with no mention of magic whatsoever (and no other explanation), and say: well, all their bodily functions have stopped (digestion, nervous system, respiratory system, etc.), but they can still breathe and move and they have to drink blood…doesn’t. work.
    However, I’m perfectly happy to believe in vampires (whose bodily functions have stopped) and anything else the author throws at me if they tell me why and how this is possible, whether this is caused by magic or a freak nuclear explosion..whatever.
    My friend says I shouldn’t ask those questions. I blame my parents…A chemist and a biologist…

  10. Justine on #

    David: Well, you know, if your target market isn’t real teenagers but rather 30something YA readers . . .

    Then they’re really barking up the wrong tree. Cecil and me are their target audience and we both hates it.

    Oh, hush, my sample size is plenty big enough.

  11. Eric Luper on #

    I roll my eyes when I read a book that has a protagonist who is passionate about reading and/or writing. I mean, they tell authors to write what they know, but this one is plain old played out.

    There’s a big wide world out there. Pick a hobby that supports your character’s personality and learn about it.


  12. veejane on #

    I am told preppy is coming back. Pink izod and everything. So these YA novels you decry are actually canaries warning, “Flee! Flee for your life!!”

  13. jennifer, aka literaticat on #

    ritual disembowelment, elmo.

    not a pretty picture.

  14. Aeriedraconia on #

    Rape scenes. I am completely sick of them. I find it a rare thing to be able to read a fantasy novel that has no rape in it. It’s almost like rape has become the default setting, like car chases in the movies. Historical mysteries seem to be getting rape heavy now too.

    When I get to the rape scene I’m done with the book nine times out of ten.

    Pleads: Can’t writers come up with something other than rape? Abandon the default.

  15. rachel brown on #

    i am now picturing the ultimate bad novel, an urban fantasy set now but where all the references are from the 80s. In the first chapter, the heroine is raped in the cafeteria.

  16. Carol on #

    …by an unexplained vampire?

    When I hear things like this, the wicked creature sitting on my shoulder starts goading me to try to write it and write it well.

    Usually I manage to resist.

  17. Dawn on #

    I don’t really have anything to rant about authors I read nor the eighties. The good thing about the eighties was that I was born. Yay? The authors that I read, I like. I don’t venture too far out unless I’ve gotten good reviews…I’m just that picky. 🙂

  18. Diana on #

    I used to see this all the time in bad romance novels. Heroines who were supposed to be my age wearing leggings and oversized sweaters.

    But everything old is new again, and now all the starlets are wearing leggings and oversized shirts.

    What bugs me most is authors taking polls on their writing loops about whether such and such reference will be understood by the teenage audience or does “no one say that anymore.” Slang is regional, what is “in” or how cliquey a particular faction is or what faction of the school is the most “popular” or the meanest differs from school to school.

    There’s nothing I’m “sick” of like that because any element you can name is going to be one person’s pet peeve and another person’s favorite element. And even if it is your pet peeve, you’re going to come across an exception that blows your mind.

  19. Elmo on #

    Deep. All opinions for one and and opinion for all…
    or something to that effect, anyway.
    jennifer, aka literaticat: commit it to whom?

  20. hwalk on #

    okay, something that really bothers me is when people don’t end their books right. when they try to be all original with the ending and then it doesn’t end how i want it to. the publisher may have liked the creativity, but i wanted it to end how it was supposed to. either happy ending or a tragedy, but a lot of times people skirt in between the lines and get nowhere.

  21. Ally on #

    i also don’t like happy endings..there has to be something that went wrong

  22. jennifer, aka literaticat on #

    self, elmo.

    i probably won’t REALLY though – as i haven’t got a sword by my desk.


  23. Caroline on #

    One of my friends in high school was obsessed with the 80s. Our school had an 80s club and we used to listen to an 80s radio show during art class (this in the late 90s)
    And yet we mostly talked about Friends and Eminem and no one wore neon leggings.

  24. Monica on #

    You are a riot! Me hates those books too. Me hates them forever!

  25. Meeks on #

    I hear you, sister. But don’t you sometimes wonder why the editors let them get away with that crap?

  26. Justine on #

    Meeks: Some of the editors are children of the eighties and all. Maybe they’re just blind to it?

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