Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Future of YA...

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
- Niels Bohr

My friend Jordyn @ Ten Cent Notes did a post on hopeful future trends. Check out what she said here...

Vampires are fun, faeries are trendy, werewolves are cool, and dystopians are cute! And as far as authors go, we've got experienced favorites, and incredibly talented newbies on the block. They're all doing a fabulous job keeping the YA shelves at bookstores stacked full with entertaining but quality literature.

HOWEVER (there's always a 'however,' isn't there?)...

Where is the future going to take us?

Here are some of my wishes for YA in the years to come -

1. More standalone non-contemporary books
Trilogies and series are great for fantasy/paranormal fiction, but sometimes it's nice for a story to wrap up and be done after one book. Kudos to The Replacement for doing this!

2. Return to HIGH FANTASY.
We've got paranormal books out the wazoo. But really, nothing says EPIC like a totally 100% off-the-map imaginary setting. Let's have more Middle Earth-inspired places in YA, please!
More faraway worlds, more quests, more swords, more heroes. More epic, please!

3. More wizards.
This is probably still a taboo type of character since Harry Potter, but I don't think the literary world would kill new authors with magically capable boy MCs. I'm seeing lots of witches, which is cool, but let's have some more wizards. Call 'em warlocks or sorcerers if it makes ya feel better

4. More aliens
IAM#4 started a great trend this year - bringing back the alien love. I gotta admit, when I think of 'aliens,' I either think of E.T. or that ultra-gross/creepy thing from the movie Alien. Either way, not a pretty picture. I bet we'll see more aliens, more traversing the galaxies, and more inter-galactic battles in the future. Bring it on!

5. More non-traditional historical fiction
I mean periods of history that are often forgotten or overlooked. We have plenty of great fiction for Victorian London (not just limited to steampunk), the Jazz Age, and even Civil War America.
But what about the early 19th century - what about pioneers? What about Great Depression fiction, or WWII homefront fiction? What about the Happy Day '50s?
And do you ever notice that it seems like historical fiction is limited to either American or British settings? So many other fascinating places and periods in history - let's see some Latin American history, some Eastern European history (hello, what was it like growing up in the Cold War?) or some...Australian history?! Yes, tales from the Outback!
Lots of great historical settings that could be tapped into. Bring it on.

6. More MG/YA Crossovers
What is the Harry Potter series? Is it Middle Grade or Young Adult? It's BOTH, because the characters go from kids to almost-adults over the course of the series. Ditto with Percy Jackson. Series books are cool, but it seems like so many of the characters start out as teens and stay that age. Let's have some real coming-of-age series, please - ones where we can kind of 'grow up' with the characters (in a manner of speaking).

7. Less angels/fallen angels
Personal preference entirely. I really don't like angel fiction and would love for it to go away.
:DNo Mo' Ango.

8. For Contemporary - "Salute to the Forgotten Teen"
You know how there's the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior? Well, this is Salute to the Forgotten Teen. You know, teens that don't take part in excessive, dangerous, irresponsible and edgy behavior. Kids who actually have real problems (self-esteem issues, body image issues, anxiety about the future...turning 16 and wondering when that car is going to magically appear) but who aren't over-the-top dramatic. Kids who spend time in class, actually care about their grades, girls who aren't boy-crazy, kids who aren't defined by their extracurricular activities (or lack thereof) and kids who freaking get along with their parents! Maybe those manuscripts are out there, but pubs shake their heads and go, "Nope, not interesting enough." Who knows? But there's a whole group of teens out there that I think are heavily underrepresented in fiction, and I certainly don't want them to get the message that they're somehow inadequate or unworthy or representation. Teen characters can't always be Bovine Camerons or Charlie-the-Wallflowers. Just an idea...

9. ELVESOkay, so elves are like the kissing cousins of fairies (actually, they're folklorically the same thing) but as a righteous Tolkienhead, I love elves. I'd like to see elves pop up in fantasy

10. "Realistic" Dystopian
As cool/crazy as these (current trend of YA dystopians) futuristic societies are, only one book so far has seemed "believable," as in, Yep, I can totally see this happening in the not-too-distant future, and that's Uglies. I guess I'd like more consideration and more scare-tactics put into YA dystopians. Create a world that could actually happen. Take stuff from our culture, manipulate it/enhance it, whatever, but make tie-ins with our current world. 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and The Giver all had messages, all had things to say about our current societies.
Whether or not the reader agrees is secondary; what's important is to actually get them thinking.
Cool premises are fun, but let's have dystopians that hearken back to their successful predecessors, please. Come on, authors, freak me out! I dare ya! :D

--And bonus number--
(just because I'm slightly eccentric, but only slightly!)


11. YA Westerns.Yep, ya heard me. YA Westerns. Westerns for Young Adults. Cowboys! Outlaws! Gunslingers! Immigrants and established citizens alike seeking land, freedom, and a new start in the great Wild West! Striking out and creating new societies - bringing civilization to an primitive land.
(Lol, can you tell I just had 'American West' last semester?)
I'd write one myself (planning on it, actually) but it might take me a couple years.
Okay, so it might be just me - but have any of you guys thought of what it would be like to revive the Western genre and bring it to YA?
Take this genre and blend it with fantasy if you want, but I'd love for the Western genre to see some representation in the Young Adult market.

16 shout-outs!:

La Coccinelle said...

I'm tired of most of what's out there in YA right now. The paranormal thing has been done to death, and all with the same plot: super-hot guy who is actually *insert paranormal creature here* falls in love with whiny ordinary girl with self-esteem issues ("I don't deserve him because he's too beautiful!").

Some really well-written YA historical fiction would be good. I'm thinking along the lines of Catherine, Called Birdy or The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (does that last one count as a Western, too?).

Ava said...

This is one of the best posts I've read in a long time! I would love to see all of those things! Especially- no angel books and more high fantasy! And elves... I'd never thought of them, but now I really want to write a book about them. Books that actually mean something are nice too- like what you said about realistic dystopians, I like books that say something, maybe about our current society, besides just providing fluffy entertainment.

And I also agree that "normal" teens are very underrepresented. In the books I wrote for NaNoWriMo, I had a very normal teen like myself as the protagonist, and felt this book would never sell because compared to other books she's just TOO ordinary. Hopefully in the future publishers won't think that as a bad thing!

Thanks for the post, it really got me thinking, as you can tell. :)

Mrs. DeRaps said...

Fun! I love the idea for westerns, realistic dystopias, and (especially) non-trad historical fiction!

I would add: More GLBT characters/ lit and more memoirs. I think as this current generation of YAs grows, they'll want to write books about themselves. That'd be cool. There's lots of room for nonfiction in the YA category!

A Journey in Reading said...

This is a great post!

More stand alone books would be great. It seems as of late that most of the YA books all have the same concept....vampires, werewolves, fae, etc.... Many of the vampire YA all involve a "special boarding school" for the vampire teens... They all seem to run together after a while.

More Harry Potter type books..... I agree with more historical fiction books as well.

Most importantly Something DIFFERENT!

Again, great post!!

Kat @ A Journey In Reading

Jillian said...

Awesome post as always, Amelia. I personally am getting tired of the whole paranormal (vampire/werewolf) trend going on, and everything is just the same! I would like to read more also about realistic dystopian, because usually those are the creepy ones because like you said, you never know. They could happen in the future! Although I do love The Maze Runner.

Liz said...

I agree with the part about stand-alone comteps and epic fantasy. I'm also wondering if Beth Revis's Across the Universe, which I still need to read, will spark a science fiction trend. I hope so!

StefanieEmmy said...

You totally sum it up here! I agree on most points - leaving out the Elves. Sorry, but I seem not to be able to get along with them ;)

Could you please send this list to some publishers?? :D

Dazzling Mage said...

LOL, I'd LOVE to see this in the future too! Especially the Western YA revival! XD

Great stuff!

TrueOrFalse said...

I don't really like angel fiction either so you're not alone on that one. And you're right, it's been a long time that I encountered some real elves. I really liked Legolas....

Anne said...

All great points! I also have a fascination for elves, and I'm surprised nobody has thought to do that for their "paranormal" novels. Or humanoid aliens - way better than fallen Angels!

And boy do I agree on the epic fantasy route - there are soooooo many YA novels set in the real world now and I'm ready for some more Tolkein-ish stuff - I've been making do with the Adult lit, but nobody writes for YA like that!

Tales of Whimsy said...

What a fun wish list.
I respectfully disagree on angels and agree on westerns :)

Okie said...

great list. very fun and creative. Good points. :)

Anonymous said...

Omg YES YES YES to this post!

Standalones would be more than welcome, and HIGH FANTASY?! Heck yes! I want something of absolutely epic proportions (even though it probably wouldn't work as a standalone, but whatever).

I'm not big on aliens (personal preference), but wizards are cool, and I have yet to read anything about angels (though I have a few to try).

I LOVE your idea about non-traditional historical fiction. If American Girl could figure out how to do it (Hello, Molly and Kirsten and Kit), I think that YA authors should take a hint.

Elves! Woo hoo!

I don't really read much contemporary YA, but I like this idea. I was pretty much a "normal" kid, so I think many would be able to relate.

Finally, it's funny that you mentioned Westerns. I've been craving reading a Western, even though I've never read any. And I think a YA Western would be just the place to start.

Completely awesome post, Amelia! :)

Christina T said...

Coming soon to a YA bookshelf near you: Cowboy elves in space! ;)

Great post! I agree with most of your points. I would love to see a YA standalone fantasy novel and definitely epic fantasy. I remember how much I loved The Hero and the Crown as a teen.

Historical fiction set in different time periods would be great but it is my generation and yours that seemed to really embrace historical fiction as teens. Later generations have not enjoyed it as much according to many librarians who sadly look at our shelves and wish the historicals would get checked out. However there have been some succesful historical and historical fantasy hybrid novels in recent years so maybe we will see a resurgence of historical fiction. As much as I've enjoyed some of the YA paranormal fiction I read, I'd love more variety!

I haven't read it yet but Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (debut novel) is a YA historical fiction novel set in 1940s Siberia. Not quite the Cold War but it is something different so I thought I'd mention it to you.

Once again, fantastic post Amelia!

Anonymous said...

Agreed with the elves WE NEED MORE ELVES ....And NOT Santa's because those arnt elves they are the help ( comment made by my own elf OC Damian)

but yeah I'd love to see an elf story or a half breed story (half elf half human)

besides that would give the likes of us who don't like fairy novels a chance at something better

Tristan said...

This is an awesome list! I found this highly interesting to read and agreed with most of your ideas! Lots of them would make very interesting books! I especially love what you said about Percy Jackson being MG and YA because everyone thinks its MG but I agree with you and think its both... so I love that someone else thinks like I do! Great list!

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