Saturday, May 30, 2015

Let's Talk: Settings in YA

As a teenager living in the United States, It doesn’t always occur to me that there isn’t a whole lot of variety in settings when it comes to YA.  Now, don’t get me wrong, YA has come a long way within the past years and there is a lot more variety than there used to be.  But, think about it.  The majority of contemporary or even some paranormal and dystopian books are set in the US.

I do understand that the majority of YA authors probably live in the United States.  So, no doubt, that plays a factor.  I feel like to realistically portray what another places is like, you actually have to have been there yourself. 

And publishing factors in too.  Not every book is published in every place.  There may be a lot of UKYA books that us readers in the United States have never heard of, and vice versa.  For example, the Geek Girl series by Holly Smale has been HUGE in the UK for quite a while now, but the first book has only recently been published in the United States.

There are a couple of Australian bloggers that I follow that talk about how much they love reading books by Aussie authors.  And I think that’s great.  I’d love to read book written by authors who live outside of the US. 

So, I guess my question here is…why are there so few YA books set in other places?  I would love to see books by authors who live in other places being publicized in the US and US authors writing books set in different places. 

I suppose there’s no direct answer to that question.  It’s just something that I was thinking about because personally, I love reading books set in fun places like Europe.  I love getting to visit other places that I may never get to see in real life.  Well, not anytime soon anyway. 

Before I wrap up here, one more question.  I feel like a lot of popular YA books are set in the US and written by American authors.  (or is that just me)  Anyways, do you lovely bloggers and readers who live outside of the US ever get tired of reading and seeing book set in the United States?  Do you wish there was more variety too?  Or is there more variety where you live and just not here for me in the US?

Share your thoughts and let me know!


  1. I don't know anything about this from a publisher's side, but I imagine it would be because there is a huge market in the US for YA and people write what they know. If a lot of books sell in America and there are a lot of American authors, then I guess it makes sense that a ton of books take place in the US. I would love to read more books by diverse authors, about different places. I'm sure that people outside of the US do get tired of reading about us all the time. I read a lot of YA fantasy and sci-fi though and they tend to take place in different worlds, so it doesn't effect me as much as people who read contemporary.

    Cayt @ Vicarious Caytastrophe

  2. I definitely think the author's and publisher's locations play a huge factor in this, like you mentioned. For example, I'm from the Philippines and since I've never been to the US, I can't write a book set there because it will turn out to be unrealistic.

    Local publishers aren't as popular here as US-based publishers, so the books I read are still mostly set in the US. But no, I don't really get tired of it. I hardly notice the setting unless it's a fantasy novel, truthfully.

    The book I'm reading now is set in Korea and I like that, but the characters and plot are doing nothing for me, so I can't really appreciate that it's set somewhere outside of the US. It really depends on the rest of the story for me.

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

  3. This is such a great topic, I'm so glad you brought it up because I feel like it's true. We don't see that many other books settings outside of US. I also think it's because there is a larger audience to reach in the US and a lot of authors that reside there. I think that it's easier for authors to write about locations that they either live in, been there before, or have done extensive research in. It makes it easier to describe to readers. I wish that there were more locations. If I can't travel there myself, at least I read through a book right? Haha.

    Here are some YA books that I've that take place in different places other than US:
    Anna and the French Kiss (Paris, France) by Stephanie Perkins
    Die for Me (Paris, France) by Amy Plum
    Grave Mercy (Brittany, France) by Robin LaFevers
    Clockwork Angel/Prince/Princess (London) by Cassandra Clare
    Ruby Red (I believe London) by Kerstin Gier
    Just One Day (some in Paris) & Just One Year (different places) by Gayle Forman
    Harry Potter (London) by JK Rowling

    Even then, it's still limited to very famous places outside of the US. Really great discussion topic!

  4. I'm really glad that you posted this! I often run into this frustration, just because I want some variety in the settings that I read! I totally agree with Aimee though, in that a lot of writers are from the US and for them, writing what they know makes the story more accurate and believable. Though, from experience, writing about another place is doable, it just requires more research and fact checking. I definitely think we could use more diverse settings though, for variety and to educate more people about more cultures around the world!

    Thanks for commenting on my "spotlight on: London based books" post and bringing me to this discussion!