Friday, August 17, 2012

The Cinderella Syndrome in YA Fiction

So I've noticed that popular YA novels are taking a new direction lately. For so long we've been inundated with paranormal "creature" books, where 1. the boyfriend is some kind of werewolf, ghost, fairy, vampire, or Other (I've even heard of harpies); 2. The main character, almost always a girl, discovers she has "powers;" 3. The girl discovers she is a "creature" too.

In the last few weeks I've noticed a definite trend towards realism. And not just "real life" kind of stuff, like boyfriends and high school drama, but a gritty realism that leaves me reeling. These books feature girls with problems, including abuse and other types of trauma, but almost always have a happy ending in which the MC is saved by a boy. I call this the Cinderella Syndrome, because the boys who save them tend to come from perfect families with plenty of money. There are exceptions to this, of course; Fisher Amelie's Callum and Harper comes to mind, in which both the boy and girl are unwanted orphans. Chelsea Fine's Sophie and Carter is another example. Told in alternating POVs, both the MCs come from troubled, poor families. But these books still follow the same basic premise of the Cinderella Syndrome: the boy saves the girl from a terrible life.

But Cinderella is an enduring, well loved fairy tale for a reason. I love both the books listed above. They're well written and engaging. I encourage all of you to go out and read them. (And leave a review! Indies depend on those.) In fact, I find myself almost embarrassed by how much I love this new trend. I'm drawn to these books more than any others right now. These Cinderella heroines show their strength simply by enduring. They survive situations that would break most people. So maybe I shouldn't analyze my impulses too much. Maybe it's enough to simply want the fairy tale for a while.

More Must Reads in YA Realism: