I want to talk about trends. In YA, that is… not just in general. (Why did I feel the need to clarify that?)
Trends in YA have been starting to bother me recently. It didn’t used to bother me at all - I thought it was awesome because it meant if I liked something and it became a trend then there would be plenty more books that I could read with more of the same.
But recently…. Recently… this:
Yes. Simon Cowell facepalm. That’s how trends are making me feel recently.
Specifically: supernatural/fantasy trends. For some reason it doesn’t bother me with contemporary fiction… maybe because even if the concepts have been written to death, there is still a lot of originality to be found in the execution of the story. With fantasy/supernatural, somehow that originality is harder to achieve (although there are the rare gems that manage to do it).
I used to love vampires. Ever since reading Dracula when I was a mini-Lanna (probably too young to really be reading books like Dracula, but hey, I didn’t turn out so bad -- aside from my hoping for Peter Pan to show up at my window to take me away to Never land morphing into mini-me wishing a vampire would show up at my window and bite me. That’s normal… right?). I even had a few vampire stories of my own outlined/started/one half finished.
But then… Twilight happened. The dreaded T word… with all of the sparkly C-words (just realised how wrong that could sound. Cullen’s. I meant Cullen’s!). And after that, there was such a flood of vamp-lit in the YA section, it’s insane. And it’s still happening.
And people seem to be trying to recreate the Twilight-effect substituting vampires for other mythical creatures. Or at least, that’s how publishers are making it seem when they advertise nearly every supernatural romance as “the next Twilight” or making comments like “if you love Twilight, wait till you read [insert title here]”
I wonder if trends have always been as obnoxious as they are now or if I was just oblivious to it before -- in my head it all goes back to Twilight. Sure, trends were around before and that’s to be expected but Twilight seemed to make them so much worse... or perhaps I just wasn't aware of it in literature before. I expected it with clothes and movies and music and TV shows and toys -- books, people who read books, I guess they were always shoved into a different catagory of my brain (smarter, not the type to follow trends).
It’s like there was vampires. And then more vampires. And then more vampires… and then the vampires were substituted with werewolves and then we got more of those and then faeries and angels seem to be the new thing now too.
The Hunger Games seems to have triggered some sort of dystopian YA lit tsunami that will be hitting early this year-2011... Although, I’m excited for that because most of the books sound so fantastic and, like with contemporary fiction, dystopians have so much more opportunities for originality.
This has been such a ramble-y post, sorry for that.
But basically, to sum up: trends are starting to annoy me. And the fact that they’re starting to annoy me, well… annoys me.
I don’t want to miss out on reading a fantastic book just because I’ve read the summary and Simon-Cowell-facepalmed at the fact it’s about an overused mythical creature or an overused plot (the supernatural love triangle/the human girl and the mysterious supernatural boy/the human girl who turns out to be a special and unique little snowflake… and then the mysterious boy shows up to fall in love with her and introduce her to a world of myth and magic -- they’ve all been used to death).
It annoys me even more because I write. I don’t write well. I don’t intend to try and get published -- but it’s still annoying when I’ve outlined/started a story and then a few months later it becomes a trend or the concept of it pops up in another book and then it shows up in more books and then I feel like such an epic failure for lacking in originality… even though I thought up the story before the dreaded trend happened.
I don’t blame authors for trends really, for the reason I mentioned above -- just because they’re writing about something that has become popular does not mean they wrote about that something BECAUSE it was popular… I blame publishers, but at the same time I understand where they’re coming from -- a great book happens and they want more of the same so it’ll sell, when there’s a demand for something of course they’re going to publish it. But I kind of wish that they would publish more original stuff to dilute the trends and clichés on the YA shelves.
Trends I wouldn’t mind happening right now: more books like Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (a book banners dream), which tackles the taboo subject of consensual incest. Books like that are so moving and powerful and if there were more books like that out there, maybe it’d make society rethink where they stand on certain issues. Well, I wouldn't want it to be a "trend" but I'd like to see more books tackling the issue. Books that can challenge or even change your beliefs or make you rethink a situation or the way you see the world. Books that can make a person more open minded.
As well as that, I’d like to see way more lit that would get the panties of book banners all in a twist because really, most of the books that those ignorant idiots try to get banned are the ones worth reading -- the most moving, most powerful books. Books that are honest about the world and humanity.
Books about gays/lesbians/bisexuals… and not just ones about the struggle with their sexuality, can’t there be more books about them where they’re out of the closet and not ashamed? Can’t they be more than just the minor characters for a change? Why can’t there be an awesome openly gay/lesbian character who is like… a mermaid and he/she has to save the world from killer squid (okay, maybe not that plot exactly, but do you see my point?).
Books that don’t shy away from sex… and I don’t mean erotic fiction - because that just glorifies it and makes it unrealistic. YA lit recently is getting way, way, way better with the issue of sex so they’re heading in the right direction. And book banners hate that, which makes me a very happy Lanna (lets face it, we're never going to get rid of the people who try to ban books -- so I'll happily settle for irritating them with the success of the books they're so against).
I want a supernatural book where the love interest isn’t this super hot, super cool, super mysterious and witty and sarcastic guy -- why can’t the angel/vampire/pixie/faerie/werewolf/[insert latest trend here] be dorky? Why can’t he be awkward and shy? Why can’t the romance in the story be based on something other than some love at first sight/instant attraction/shallower than a kiddie pool draw? Can’t the main character get to know the guy first -- get to like him, then love him and then the butterflies in her stomach start misbehaving at the thought of him because of that and not just because he’s your typical pretty/bad boy who makes all the girls swoon?
Fairytale retellings... with a twist. I want subverted fairytales -- ones that take a well loved story and update it and twist it and change it until we get something awesome and original but still managing to maintain what made the original fairytale so awesome (I think maybe Jackson Pearce did this with Sisters Red, I haven't read it yet but I own it, we'll see).
I’m doing the rambling thing again… sorry.
What are your thoughts on trends? Yay or nay? Are they annoying or awesome? Can you get too much of a good thing when it comes to trends in YA?
What things would you like to see in YA books right now?