diversity in young adult literature + six epic recommendations || life & literature ep. 1

…And I’m back with another series for y’all! I love analysing literature and it always seems to help my writing, too. I’ll be posting here every week and it’s basically just a category for my literature and lifestyle posts. Since it’s pride month, what better topic to discuss than diversity?

YA fiction, recently, has been coming out with so many more different characters albeit the white, straight characters still populate a large number of novels. Is there a problem with every single protagonist being in a trope-ey love triangle, stuck in a dystopian world, finding out she’s the lost princess… and the usual? Yes, there is!

Which is why we look to books that are more relatable; we see ourselves in the story. What is the point of stories if they’re all the same? Isn’t the point of writing a story that it is different and refreshing? Well, today I’m discussing diversity in stories and giving all of you recommendations!

I’ll be choosing a few popular books to prove my point that the straight white girl trope is oftentimes misused. Take the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. When I first read it, I had nothing whatsoever to compare it to, and I still love it for what it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t problematic.

Throne of Glass
i love the characters and the badassery in this series ♥

The protagonist and all her love interests are white. The only person-of-colour of remote importance is killed so early in the series that we don’t get to know more of her, and there are only a few LGBT+ people (Mor, Aedion, Davis, etc) and they’re not in any way the main. I still feel that there should have been a few more people of colour in the entirety of the eight books, for there were barely any main characters who were.

I’ve mentioned previously that I am not a fan of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series and the main reason for that is lack of diversity. Even more so, they degrade people of colour: the dark-skinned goblins who—willingly—are employed as slaves for the ever-fair-skinned, blue-eyed elves. The series isn’t bad (don’t get me wrong; it’s pretty okay) but it wasn’t great.

Explore the Best Kotlc Art | DeviantArt
the official art for this series is just *chef’s kiss*

Perhaps her books get better through the series (I still haven’t gotten past the third one :i) but what I said was enough to get me to put a hold on the series for a while. I probably shall continue with it, but for now, I’m not too happy in the direction it led.

I know that this is a very popular series, but it just didn’t click for me, and it is relatively problematic what with all of its alleged plagiarism and the trope-ey protagonist. I do hope to give the later books another try, but the implied racism was quite a fall-back.

The last of the three series I want to talk about is one that doesn’t have that many problems (in fact, the author is rather inclusive of diverse characters) is the Lunar Chronicles. Many people have commented on her interpretation of mental illnesses and her Asian representation.

ipirateluffy | Lunar chronicles, Lunar, Cinder
ahh, the strong female characters in the series is everything

I think it isn’t that big a problem, but she’s mentioned that Cinder and Kai’s ethnicity is ‘Asian’ but there are different types of Asian. It’s almost as though you’re saying someone’s European. Scarlet calls Winter ‘crazy’ so many times in Winter, the third book in the series which is not really the best word. In fact it’s far from the best.

I still love the Lunar Chronicles. But like every book we love, it, too, has its flaws.

I’ve talked about how there are books that misrepresent characters, but while they exist, there are authors who’ve done an amazing job of writing diversity into their novels. An example of this in popular fiction is the Grishaverse, by Leigh Bardugo.

I know that there are issues with her Shadow and Bone trilogy (regarding her interpretation of Russian customs or something of the kind) but they improved the representation aspect in the TV show by including a British-Chinese actress, some with Nepali heritage all while staying true to the books.

Cassandra Clare shares 'INFERNAL DEVICES' characters in the Winter artwork  – TMI Source
from cassie jean’s infernal devices collection!

Cassandra Clare books never fail to include diverse characters in her book series: the Shadowhunter Chronicles. From LGBT+ people (who everyone ships) to people of colour, autistic people and plus-size women, she includes the people into the story and also points out why and how they are not different from the white/straight characters.

So, enough of me ranting on and on about advocating diversity in YA. Try these books out for yourself and enjoy the representation. Oh, and Happy #PrideMonth! Some of these books are popular, not all of them have loads of representation, but they do have some. I haven’t read all of these books (some were recommended to be by my real-life friends) but they all seem really good!

Buy They Both Die at the End Book Online at Low Prices in India | They Both  Die at the End Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

They Both Die in the End: When Mateo and Rufus are told that they’re going to die that day, they find each other through an app in hopes of spending their last day with a friend. What ensues is pure entertainment.

Amazon.in: Buy Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating Book Online at Low  Prices in India | Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating Reviews & Ratings

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating: From the author of The Henna Wars, this book was one of my most-anticipated releases! This has so much representation and I love the Indian characters ❤

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us: Alessandra plans to marry the king, and then kill him. She’s to find out that she isn’t the only one who wants to.


The Wolves of Mercy Falls series: Grace has been watching a wolf for her whole life, but from her window. When the two meet, they both find that secrets lie in their past and Sam has to fight to stay human.

The Hate U Give | Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The Hate U Give: Inspired by the BLM movement, this story follows one girl’s fight for her rights. This is also a film, and it’s beautiful, and moving. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard so many great things about it!

Buy An Ember in the Ashes: 1 Book Online at Low Prices in India | An Ember  in the Ashes: 1 Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

An Ember in the Ashes quartet: Laia and Elias, the two protagonists, find out that there destinies are intertwined. Read on as Laia avenges her family and Elias sees his past and future unravel while the Resistance fights the Empire ruling over this country inspired by Ancient Rome.

Thank you so much for reading this pride month awareness + diversity discussion post! Once again, I do hope you support the community! I’m not a part of it, but I totally support it and you should too :))

These are some of the books I love—which feature diverse characters—but you could always give me recommendations in the chat! Once again I want to reiterate that I do not mean to make any controversial statements by pointing out things about The Lunar Chronicles and Throne of Glass because I actually like those two books. I don’t know if I like KOTLC but it’s okay!

I’m working on something interesting for next week and I hope I’ll get the opportunity! I can’t wait to show you all! Thank you so much for reading this and I’ll see you next Sunday!

Do you enjoy diversity in books? If you do, what’s your favourite kind of representation? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned, or maybe there are some books you feel have bad/good representation? Tell me in the comments! Until then xx

38 thoughts on “diversity in young adult literature + six epic recommendations || life & literature ep. 1

  1. Great post!! I’m actually reading the hate u give right now and it’s great😃 I’m so excited for Hani and Ishu’s guide to fake dating, and I’ve been meaning to read the ember in the ashes series since forever ahh.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Diversity in Literature makes a great book, great. Cloned characters just drain the effervescence of literature and it becomes so unembellished. As you said, with a myriad of distinctive characters we tend to see ourselves in the pages of a novel 😁✨
    I absolutely love ‘The Hate U Give.’ It is a book that will definitely drown you in tears and give you the courage to stand up for what’s right! 🙌
    Another detailed and awesome post as always 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Maith! You’re so right, it just improved the book 100%
      I love the hate u give, too! It’s so moving!
      Thanks a lot for reading, and this lovely comment ❤


  3. I’ve read throne of glass, ember in the ashes, and the lunar chronicles! All favorites: some from a couple of years of ago! I’ve completed all, but the ember in the ashes (i have the last book patiently waiting on my shelf)!
    Though, I don’t necessarily agree with what you said about the series being problematic. It may be problematic to some readers. The author chose to write it like it is . No one should be forced to write a certain way. And there is no way to include everyone. There are so many different types of people, you can’t include everyone.
    Also, not all the love-interests in throne of glass are white. In the real world, I’d see him more as Latino because of his skin tone. Chaol as well as he is described as having honey-crisp like skin in the book.
    I would say the Lunar Chronicles included way more up to the standards of people who think it’s problematic not to have everyone in the story. The writer included a lot and the book is based in Bejing.
    Overall, I really enjoyed your suggestions! I want to check them out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made some really good points, and it’s got me to rethink that! I did actually like both the Lunar Chronicles and the Throne of Glass series for what it is, but there are a few issues is all.
      Thanks for this comment! It’s very well-thought out and I do hope you like some of the recommendations! Thank you for reading :))

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading your opinion on these things, Maya! I see a lot of authors tend to write what they’re used to and have grown up around because it makes it easy for them to relate to their own characters. You also see mistakes when they try and add it in sometimes because they don’t know much about the cultures they’re trying to incorporate. I get it because I can struggle too, we all do. Nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. incredible post! thank you so much for all the great recs! i agree with you on throne of glass, the maas wrote at least 5 couples…who were…all white. she didn’t even try on POC diversity😂 i agree with you on the lunar chronicles, i remember reading it for the first time and being pleasantly shocked at the diversity (her renegades trilogy is arguably even better in terms of it).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, I never thought about KOTLC like that. I was irritated by how many characters were blond, has blue eyes and were white, but I never thought of looking at the goblins and elves that way.

    Great post, Maya! The Hate U Give has been on my TBR list for way too long!


  7. diversity in books is definitely so important and being aware of certain problematic books just as much… kotlc was a childhood favourite for me, and now reflecting back there truly was a huge gap in it… i think it’s okay to enjoyed these books but just be aware that they have certain problems, like the lunar chronicles… really appreciate all the recommendations, great discussion maya! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wonderful post, I think this is an important discussion to be had; I’m really glad that it seems that more and more books (especially a lot of new releases) are now including a diverse cast of characters, and I love that you provided recommendations!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I loved it, wonderful post. Diversity is something I look for in books. I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned but they all sounds great. I am hoping to read them someday. Thank you for these awesome recommendations.☺

    Liked by 3 people

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