“In the Bible, the end of the world went on for a whole book. But the real and of the world, Aiden knew, would never be more than a paragraph or two. The real end of the world would just be small things piled up.” —Son of Fortune by Victoria McKernan
YA lit has explored all sorts of ways the world might end or change drastically in various post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels that have been popular in recent years. The book I quote above isn’t about the end of the world at all, but I thought the quote was interesting since I’ve read several teen novels this year, including a few that will publish in the year ahead) that take on the Biblical end of the world in various ways. The trendwatcher in me has been taking note of these:
- This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready explores the rapture and religious fundamentalism. I liked the story and the suspense, and I think that the message that religious extremism should be avoided will certainly resonate with a lot of young readers looking for a middle ground.
- Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle has a more satirical edge to it that I liked. It’s basically a road trip novel with social commentary thrown in for good measure. Not to mention a post-apocalyptic style world. (Pubs January 2015)
- No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss turns this trend on its head. This book takes place after the predicted End did not happen. The family who banked their future on the prophecy is now homeless and navigating the challenges of the same old world. (Pubs March 2015)
- Eden West by Pete Hautman is less about the actual end of the world and more about how it feels to live with the End hanging over you. As someone raised in a non-mainstream religion with a similar focus on an End that could happen at any moment, I related to the story of being torn between the present and the possible future. (Pubs April 2015)
I admit that my religious history might have me seeking out books like this out of personal interest, but it feels like a trend to me. Or maybe it’s just the usual interest in non-mainstream religion (See also: Like No Other by Una LaMarche and Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock) that has always been a part of teen fiction. Either way, I’m watching it.
See my previous discussions of trends in teen fiction here and here.
I have a few more #YAlittrends to add to the conversation started on Twitter months ago. I added a few of my insights in this post, and here’s what I’m seeing in 2014 and ahead to 2015:
- Genre-blending – Is it magical realism or realistic fantasy? Whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t fit neatly into one category like we are used to. Some of the more interesting genre-blenders I’ve read recently: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, There Will be Lies by Nick Lake, and Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King.
- Distortion of Truth – This could be lumped in with the Secrets & Lies category I identified in my previous trend post, but I wonder if we’ll see more books focus on the media like The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi and How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon. I think that teens are thinking about and paying attention to issues like the ones addressed in these books.
- Verse – Novels in verse aren’t new (and there are lots of terrible ones out there), but I’ve read some particularly excellent or interesting verse novels this year. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is one that comes to mind as a standout, but I might also mention A Time to Dance, which I blogged about here, and The Red Pencil.
- The Effects of Mental Illness – These books aren’t always the easiest books to read, but I’m glad that they exist. The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi is a powerful look at one family dealing with a mental break. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a heart-wrenching story of suicide and bipolar disorder. Whether it is about friends or family, the reality is that mental illness isn’t just about the people with the disease. Also: Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Any other teen fiction readers seeing trends? Use the #YAlittrends hashtag on Twitter or share here in the comments.
A couple of weeks ago, a librarian colleague asked for some input on the trends in teen fiction for the year. Since I am getting ready for my team’s big Best New Titles Booktalk this fall, I have been knee deep in teen fiction. Here’s what I’m seeing:
- Secrets, Lies, and Unreliable Narrators – We Were Liars has been one of the most anticipated and talked about titles this year, but it isn’t the only one that will keep you guessing. Just a quick scan of the ARCs on my desk shows Little Blue Lies by Chris Lynch and Little White Lies by Katie Dale. There are secrets in We are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt and What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn.
- Fish Out of Water – I have a small running list of teen fiction on this theme, and I’ve added three books to it already this year: Wild by Alex Mallory, Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor, and Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock.
- Multiple Perspectives – Of course there are the dual perspective romances following the popularity of Eleanor & Park, but there are also books that use multiple narrators to tell the story, like The Art of Secrets by James Klise, The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, and A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall for example.
I’ve also seen at least three teen novels in 2014 or early 2015 that are about the rapture, which strikes me as an odd little mini trend. That said, I did like the two rapture books I’ve read so far. I’ll be curious to see what my colleagues come up with for #YAlittrends. Watch the Teen Librarian’s Toolbox for updates.