Bookends: Five YA Lit Trends I’d Like to See in 2012

Falling Books Bookend by Art Ori Design

Happy New Year!  It’s been a while, but with the last of my vacation coming to an end, it’s finally time to get back to the swing of things. For those interested in some reflection on the year past, I’ve posted my Top 10 Favorite (Best?) Reads of 2011 on my personal Tumblr.

For those who are excited and ready to look ahead, here is a list of five things I’d love to see more of in young adult literature during the coming year:

01. Stand Alone Novels. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always loved books that make up a series—in many cases, the longer the series, the better. But these days, it feels as thought every single new release is the first in a trilogy, and it’s become exhausting. In fact, it’s become so exhausting that there are interesting books I’m actively avoiding because I don’t want to find myself one or two books deep in yet another series. I want a complete, self-contained reading experience, and if that means a book needs to be 450 pages vs. 300 pages, then so be it.

02. Pre-Dystopias. Dystopia was big—very big—in 2011, and I doubt that will change in the new year, especially with the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games to be released in March. However, with every new dystopia I read, I grow increasingly frustrated by how formulaic they all feel. To help alleviate this frustration, I’d love to read books that take place not however many years after something happened to upend society, but in that turbulent and frightening time when that something actually took place. I think there’s a lot to explore in this direction, and I’m very curious to know where authors would take us.

03. More Science Fiction! Along a similar line, one of my favorite reads of the year, Beth Revis’s Across the Universe, reminded me that I really enjoy science fiction. It also made me realize that I haven’t encountered many sci-fi books written specifically for a young adult audience. While reading about the end of life as I know it is all well and good, I could really go for some more books set in space, focused on exploration, and featuring fun science! and gadgets.

04. Slow Burn Romances. I’m less annoyed by InstaLove™ than some of my fellow bloggers, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to read book after book after book in which two impossibly beautiful people fall in love the second they see each other for the first time. Give me two people who are companions before they’re in love, who know something about each other other than that one has piercing eyes and the other lustrous hair. Life is complicated, relationships are complicated, and it’s a disservice not only to readers, but also the abilities of many authors to perpetuate tired formulas.

05. Illustrated Cover Art. I’ve been reading young adult books for a long time, and it’s only in the past ten years that I’ve noticed more and more books being published with photographs as cover art. Many of my childhood favorites are being reissued with new covers, and while, OK, that makes some sense, since publishers want to make them look fresh, the trend includes brand new books, too. For example Gayle Forman’s had one (beautiful) illustrated cover when it was released in hardcopy, and another (less beautiful) photographic cover for its paperback run, the style of which was carried over to the sequel’s cover.

I’m not sure how likely we are to see any of these trends develop in 2012, but they’re five things I’ll definitely keep an eye out for as I read throughout the year. What about you? Is there anything you’d like to see more or less of as you read?

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11 responses to “Bookends: Five YA Lit Trends I’d Like to See in 2012

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this list! Particularly 2 and 4.

    • I would love to see a prequel to The Hunger Games. Done correctly, I think it could absolutely match the originals as far as intensity, especially if real treatment was given to the development of the games. I think they’d have to be a tragedy, though—MC is part of Capitol society, realizes what’s happening only once it’s too late, is forced into the games for insubordination? I don’t know. Could be awesome.

  2. I just read Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom. Total slow-burn Romance. If you Netgalley, that’s where I got it from (http://www.netgalley.com/index2.php?module=catalog&page=1&genre=4&sdir=2&sfld=1&type=0&txt=ditched)

    Not perfect but I liked it!

    Also I ranted on Goodreads today about trilogies! I don’t mind a good series but how they’re being handled lately angers me. To quote myself, It’s so fashionable in YA trilogies nowadays to end with a huge hook for the next book. And the plot was so neatly resolved! There was still more to do but we’d semi fixed most things! And then whatsisbutt had to show up and give us a cliffhagner (Here I’m going to start to sound like an OLD). Whatever happened to great books where they finish one story and you pick up the second one because you loved the characters and universe enough to want the second one? It feels like publishers nowadays are pushing crap cliffhanger endings because they don’t trust the plot/characters enough to drive us to reading #2. Eff that.

    • Ha. Yes, I saw your reaction to Bumped, which, ugh, was by far the most disappointing book I read in 2011. To make matters worse, I think Megan McCafferty should know better. I mean, this is the woman who wrote Jessica Darling!

      All that aside, I wish books could at least be less intense about the cliffhangers. Magic or Madness, which I read in the early part of 2011, is the first in a trilogy, but there’s no real cliffhanger, so I’ve felt like I can take my time getting to the next book.

      Even people like Tamora Pierce, who always write books in a series, make sure that the individual stories are relatively self-contained. There’s no reason that can’t be the case with many of the books currently being released.

  3. Yes stand alones! Yes illustrated cover art! YES SLOW BURN ROMANCES!

    Yes yes yes! *applauds entire post*

  4. Totally agree with all of this. I think that just like Twilight created a great many formulaic vampire novels, now the same is being done to become the next Hunger Games. While I tend to eat these up like cookies and am less bothered by them than some others, I still recognize the formula being used in a few of them and want something refreshing. More Sci-Fi would be great. A Long, Long Sleep was a great one too. Sci-Fi + Fairytale retelling. You should check that one out.

  5. Yes, yes and yes to standalones. And 3 more to not ending a book with a cliffhanger or “to be continued.” I don’t think I dislike anything more than that – I just finished reading Mara Dyer and that’s my main gripe. Oh and I just can’t do series with 11+ books – the main reason I’m not jumping on the Sookie Stackhouse train (yet).

  6. Hallelujah Anna! I agree with all five–especially the part about dystopias. I love a good dystopia, but even when they’re good in writing (Delirium), they’re also formulaic.

    And I’ve put off buying the second Gayle Forman book because the new cover (and on hardback!) is just awful.

  7. Dystopian settings are wicked fun to read but I’m all the way down with seeing more straight-up sci-fi make its way into YA lit. The way Beth Revis took the whole classic “hard sci-fi” approach with the generational ship and laid it to a YA theme was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading about hyperdrives and warp engines, but it’s cool to see somebody reuse an old idea in a fresh way.

    Also, as far as the “pre-dystopia” thing you mentioned, I feel like the closest thing to that idea that is getting any sort of exposure has got to be Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The way she showed the slow decline of the protagonist’s small town was so well done. I have such a hard time putting down books like that because I know something bad is going to happen very very soon. But there again it’s just the first book in a series, but I think we can attribute that to those pesky publishers and their stupid profit margins.

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