books · discussions · shanti

To Car or not to Car?

Hello, blookunity! I have been involved in a lot of travel in the last few days (20 hours of plane rides, four hours of car rides, five hours of train rides, walking) and I have also read three YA contemporary novels. This, combined with the fact that I recently got a drivers license (which is pretty scary tbh, considering that I can’t really tell left from right) has made me think about the role of cars in contemporary YA novels. As a bit of an experiment, I’ve rewritten the plots of some types of books ( it’s all generic, so no spoilers) considering what would happen if for some reason (be it environmental, or no licenses or too expensive) there were no cars in a YA book.


The Road Trip

Examples: Paper Towns, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Walk Two Moons, Wherever Nina Lies, Let’s Get Lost.

Plot without cars: For various reasons, I decided to go on a road trip. [pick one: family trouble, boyfriend/girlfriend trouble, moving house, escape from ordinary life, finding person] I booked my bus tickets with two of my friends, and we had to wake at the horrible hour of 7:30 to get to the bus stop. We didn’t see many interesting things on the way, unless you count the contents of friend one’s stomach. Still, I liked seeing the country. I never realised it was so big! We had lots of good conversations on the way, and I realised that all of us had lots of secrets from each other. I wanted to finally show my feelings to friend to and kiss [pick one: him/her], but it felt a bit awkward on the public bus. It was quite stressful trying to get across the terminal to the next bus, so we didn’t see much in the big city, except for a well stocked shop full of junk food. When we got to our destination, we went to see my [pick one: sibling, older relative, ex boyfriend/girlfriend] and I understood our relationship in a whole new way. We couldn’t finish our [pick one: life changing conversation, kiss, meal] because we had to get back to the bus. I got really bad cramps from staying still for so long, but apart from missing one bus and arriving home at midnight, we had a good time, and now I know my friends better.

The High School Drama

Examples: My Life Next Door, All the Bright Places, The Fault in Our Stars, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Not If I See You First.

Plot without cars: It’s a long walk to school. I had to get there at seven forty five for band practice, so I had to leave the house at seven, because the school bus didn’t run at that time. Someone invited me to a party, but it was too far away from home for me to go, and it wasn’t safe to walk back in the dark. My friends were all in my neighbourhood, but we all went to different schools. I guess I am a bit typical, because I’m in love with the [pick one: boy/girl] next door, but it’s convenient for me I guess. I mean, the reason I don’t have a car is that my parents care for the environment, but it is annoying . I think more would happen in my life if I went out more, but the city I live in is so spread out, so it’s hard to get places. I mean, yesterday something happened at school–[pick one: phone went missing, new friend!, broke my leg] which was exciting. What’s more, it finally has given me a reason to get out of the house to [go to the police station, visiting my friend, hospital] and my life will basically never be the same, though with all the public transport time I don’t have time for schoolwork, so my grades are dropping.  My life has changed a lot this year, what with new [pick up to three: friends, shoes, experiences, significant others, parents dropping dead, footpath maintenance, bus routes]

The Car Crash Victim

Examples: The Secrets We Keep, The Beginning of Everything, Falling Into Place, Looking for Alaska, Before I Fall, If I Stay.

Plot Without Cars: [Pick one: He, she, I] decided to [pick one: take the bus, call for person they knew to come get them, walk, not go because it was too far] and so escaped. Our normal happy lives continues.

Do you think cars are used too much to supplement YA contemporaries plots? Do you drive? Which books cause the most carbon to enter the atmosphere (e.g. involve the most driving? tell me in the comments


5 thoughts on “To Car or not to Car?

  1. Actually, YES, I think teens in cars are used far too much in books. Maaaybe this is just because I’m Australian? Because we don’t get licenses until 17 at the earliest. But in all the American books they’re like puttering away by themselves at 16 and don’t need no adult to take them places. *sighs* So I always feel the plots are majorly convenient because of that. 😛 But I CANNOT IMAGINE THE RAVEN BOYS WITHOUT THEIR CARS. The book would be so so sad. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, everyone just drives EVERYWHERE. It can’t be good for the environment. It does speed things up, I guess? But other plots might be good too. You learn things on buses and trains, you know? The Raven Boys have a sort of symbiotic relationship with their cars– it would be impossible to have one without the other.


  2. haha, I absolutely LOVED reading that post. I didn’t notice until just now how much cars are used in YA contemporary. I have to say, it feels sometimes a little weird, because in the US, and other countries I guess (my apologies, I don’t know the rules in all countries, it’s probably given that I HATE driving), people are allowed to start driving at 16 ; and where I live, it’s not ’til 18 years old. I guess it’s practical, and it gives the authors lots of ideas for their plot lines, being able to use the car. But why not do a road trip with their parents? Might be a little awkward, but, idk, haha.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it– I just read a whole lot of contemporaries, which made me notice. I live in India, and I only get in cars like once a month, but I was just in New Zealand where cars are everywhere, which made me think about it. I guess drivers licenses are one of the reasons that YA characters are often older than 16– so they’re allowed to drive! A road trip book with parents would be really interesting. I mean, car’s do convenience the plot, but public transport can still have a story.

      Liked by 1 person

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