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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?