I don’t know what I would do without my friends. They accept me for who I am, make me happy, and help me out when I need it. They are awesome and I can’t imagine life without them. So it surprises me a bit that friends aren’t around very much in the Young Adult genre. I mean, they are around, but the only place where they are really common is in contemporary novels.
I find that saddening since my friends played a huge role in my life, and I think that goes for many other people out there. But in YA fiction, a protagonist’s friends normally don’t play a prominent role in the story, even in contemporary sometimes. They are introduced, walk around with the protagonist for a couple of chapters, and then fade away as the story picks up and/or the love interest gets more page time. I even read some books where the female lead’s best friend was only there to talk about how hot a guy is. Friends have little to no involvement in many protagonists’ lives.
Which I think is very unrealistic. If I was trying to solve a mystery, meeting a hot guy, going on an adventure, hunting someone down, or even just trying to reach a goal, my friends would be the first to know, and I would probably ask them to come along and help me. Even if I did try to hide what I was doing from them, they would probably notice something’s up and attempt to butt in on their own.
And even if I ignored how unrealistic the absence of friends are in YA, I would still think that stories would be better if they were around more often. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, Speechless by Hannah Harrington, and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga are some of my favorite books, because of the story and because of the fact that the friends of the protagonist were so fun and had great chemistry with the protagonist.
I understand that having the friends of a person who is involved in something dangerous play an important role in a story and know what’s going on might be inconvenient, but it is well worth it, and can even help open up some new opportunities to make the story better. And if a character doesn’t have friends since they are a loner or just has an inability to do make them, at least make the protagonist create something resembling friendships, as nobody goes through life without meeting people.
I want to read more books where the protagonist has strong bonds with their friends and friends that actually play a role in a story. Because, as we all know, “Friends don’t let friends do stupid thing… Alone.” They will also help you, like, not die.