A variety of trends have been making the rounds in young adult fiction, some that I enjoy, some I don’t, and some I feel neutral about or that I feel I have not seen done to its full potential yet. Here are some things (some are current trends, some are not) that I would like to see more often in young adult fiction…
I think Cinder, The Hunger Games, and For Darkness Shows the Stars all feature good examples of this. It isn’t insta-love, or even, “Oh hi, one day you’re my friend and the next day I might love you because you kissed me and it felt good!” (I’m looking at you The Testing!), but it starts off small and builds over time, naturally.
The books 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The movies Equilibrium and V for Vendetta. Episodes of The Twilight Zone such as “The Obsolete Man” and “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” What do they all have in common? They’re true dystopias!
I think a lot of “dystopias” in young adult fiction have an element of this, with a weird or oppressive government, but a lot of times the danger doesn’t feel all that real, especially if it only takes a couple of kids to overthrow the government. Or if the whole plot of the book is conveniently about how oppressive the government is when it comes to marrying who you want, and then you proceed to fall in love with someone that you’re not supposed to. I feel you and all but please… there are bigger problems in this world. I want to see more daring, more dangerous dystopias.
More Science Fiction Elements
More genetic engineering, more clones, more space! I’m a developing geek, so I want more science fictiony things that aren’t quite the full-blown deal. However, I’m picky about it being so light it seems pointless, like in Across the Universe. For Darkness Shows the Stars, however, handled it fantastically.
Unique Story Ideas
What do these two have in common? Nothing really, except they both have my love for their unique stories, one as a book and the other as a movie. Since we’re talking YA fiction though, I’ll focus on The Book Thief. It’s a WWII story, not uncommon in of itself. But the narrator is Death, which sets the entire tone for how we see the story of a little girl named Liesel who steals books. Her story may not be entirely unique in all that she experiences during war, but the point of view we are given of her story is. And I love that I have never read a book like it before or since.
Does this sound like a contradiction to my previous point? Yes. Do I care? No. While I love a super unique story, I also love seeing new spins on old tales. My two favorite retellings that I have read this year are For Darkness Shows the Stars, based on Persuasion but is set in a future world where genetic engineering has gone wrong, and Cinder, a retelling of Cinderella where our MC is a cyborg and has bigger problems than missing her glass slipper! It’s fun to see an updated or futuristic twist on a familiar story, because it feels familiar and new all at once – the best of both worlds!
So many young adult books focus on a girl, and the guys in her life are typically feuding suitors. Why can’t the guys be friends? Why isn’t there more focus on them? Does everything have to be about romance? How about some bromance?!
Series have their place, and I certainly appreciate the arcs they can provide, but it’s nice to get the entire story in one book every so often. The Book Thief is the only YA fiction book I have read this year that was a stand-alone, but The Scorpio Races and a few others are on my TBR!
What do you want to see more of in young adult fiction?