Home > entertainment, kid empowerment, kid entertainment, kid pop culture, pop culture > What the heck is wrong with YA these days?

What the heck is wrong with YA these days?

It’s impossible to talk about new trends in young-adult fiction without considering the wildly popular supernatural fiction – much of it terrible knock-offs of the “Twilight’’ series by Stephenie Meyer. One surprising fact remains: Meyer can write beautiful prose, and she creates characters that young people care passionately about.
But why vampires? Why so many books for teenagers about the dead and the undead – about ghosts, ghouls, fairies and werewolves?

Young adults feel affinity with supernatural characters in books – The Boston Globe (via Ypulse)

It’s ranting time.

I’ve spent the last 2 weeks MILLING around book stores, piecing BIT BY BIT through the YA section, and still… why is everything about vampires and self-spoiled teenlet princess-wannabes?  Gaaaaaaah.

Seriously – go take a look.  There’s like 200 books that allude to, are about, or skip around the idea of Vampires (or, hell, same story lines but with werewolves).  Forbidden love with fantastical species that *used* to be horror creatures, but now are modern day Romeos in unlikely situations with a modern Jane Austen heroine.

I liked Twilight. Sure.  And I’m sure 10 of these 200 extra wannabe titles are just as good, if not better.  BUT SERIOUSLY… can we change things up a bit?  I appreciate the attempt at updating Pride & Prejudice with Pride & Prejudice and Zombies… sadly, that title falls FLAT.  It literally is Pride & Prejudice with Zombies – seriously.  Break all the sentences/paragraphs down, and you get: slightly edited Austen sentence for modern/young readers + ending in something tacked on about Zombies.  1/2 through, I put it down. 

If there’s a good title out there with fantastical elements to it – I can’t find it buried on the shelves with all those darn Twilight-wanna-bes.  And do you know how hard that is to say?  I’ve had TWO books come back from editors with the sentence “Too much like Harry Potter.”  Gaaaaah!  Any reference to magic = Harry Potter.  Okay, okay… I get it.  People like Twilight, and with the series “finished” (I say that lightly, as I’m putting money down on a sequel series starting Jacob), and they’re looking for more.  I actually saw a display last night at Borders with suggestions for Twilight users pimpin’ out TWILIGHT DARK CHOCOLATE.  I actually guffawed at that.  Clever marketers.  Heck, I’m always looking for my next Harry Potter read.  I enjoyed that series.  I don’t want to read another book about a boy wizard, sure.  And I don’t want some contrived series that feels like it’s wringing a wet towel to get the last drop of magic (I won’t name the 5 book serieses that have been going since 2002 that have boy names in the titles ). 

And then there’s the snotty princess books.  Pink books with prom dresses and pretty girls who have some sort of mischeif glinting in their eyes.  I like the dresses… but then I read the back and it’s a book about cliques and schoolyard heirarchy at the priveliged level.  They all feel scripted and gossip-y.  Ugh.  Not what I want either.

If I were going to suggest books right now to people who are like me – wanting something a little DIFFERENT than the onslaught currently on the shelf – here’s my list (I’ll add more as I continue with my summer reading, and fighting through the crap currently covering the shelves – my apologies to anyone who disagrees and loves the current titles, to each his/her own 😉 ):

  1. Foundling and Lamplighter (Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish)- Rich, creative, epic.  I really hope the third book comes soon.  Of all the series I’ve read in the last two years – I’m the MOST excited about the third book here.  It’s inspiring.  More boy oriented, or if you like the more colorful/darker side of Harry Potter
  2. The Books of Abarat by  Clive Barker – Modern Alice in Wonderland but a little bit more edgy… VERY unexpected.  I, personally, think this series is the most underrated of them all.  I love it.
  3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I’m sorry, but never before has a book complimented a movie, and vice versa. I absolutely love it. Brilliant!!! And there’s a twist to it… can you ask for anything more? Love it.
  4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  There’s a follow up Fire, but I’ve not read yet.  This reminded me a LOT of Garth Nix’s The Old Kingdom series (Sibriel, Lireal, etc), but with a good dash of Shannon Hale.
  5. The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets by Shannon Hale (3 stories compliment each other).  I am not a fan of the new covers (with the human faces) and much prefer the covers with the graceful artwork.  I also love her Austenland TREMENDOUSLY.\
  6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – I LOVED this book (despite not feeling partial to the american book cover – the british cover is designed by Chris Riddell, and by default, much more to my liking).  I LOVED this book. Seriously. Very, very well done.
  7. The Edge Chronicles by Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart, these two are my favorite authors of this decade (aside, naturally, from JKR).  Their book Muddle Earth is also one of my favorites – fun, light, silly, amazing.  They have a shelf of other titles that I also very much recommend, and happily.

Others I suggest (not in any order of preference)

  • The Neverending Story
  • Artemis Fowl (mainly the first two books)
  • Septimus Heap (primarily the 1st book, the follow-ups get a little long-winded)
  • Fablehaven
  • Princess Ben
  • Princess and the Hound, Princess and the Bear
  • Coraline
  • His Dark Materials
  • Stardust
  • The Grimm Sisters
  • The Last Dragon
  • The Inheritance Series
  • The Naming (It’s a series)
  • Exodus
  • The Borrowers
  • Bartimaeus Trilogy
  • Ella Enchanted (best of the Gail Carson Levine Fairytale remakes)

And for those of you who want a fairytale, but feel a little too old to read teen/tween books – I wholeheartedly suggest anything by Lynn Kurland.  She does both romance and sci fi (her romance isn’t “Heavy Bossums” as my sister has dubbed the books a certain family member of ours reads – not trashy, just fun & light).

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  1. July 1, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Try looking to overseas authors for alternatives e.g danger, suspense and adventure without the supernatural/science fiction.
    For example, Dangerous Days by J. William Turner, an Australian author being published in the USA. With the similar thriller-type elements as the Harry Potter series, good vs evil, this is pure biographical fiction set in the early 1980’s

  2. Reidun
    August 5, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Poison, is a awesome book. Unique,thrilling,adventures, I wish the book didnt end!!! tHe purple cover may look weird but it is awesome!! Maximum ride novels are also at the top of my Reading list. Funny, suspense,thrilling, usually 200-400 pages long! By James Patterson.. Generation dead and the sequel,Kiss of life, is also good. Zombies and romance… Fruits Basket is a japanise manga cómic. Another fun romance that i tottally luvd . The novel got me into other manga books. I could roam on and on about cool books for 12 and above.. The Clique novels is real good too!! Email me if u want more teenage or young adult books. Ellison73@netzero.com 🙂

  3. Reidun E.
    August 9, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Izzy? You have’t posted in like, Ever!! Neither have I seen alot of recent comments. I used to see lots of people on this site with ALOT of comments in 08 and 09.

  4. Alyssa
    August 27, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Ooh!! You just named so many of my favorites! His Dark Materials, The Borrowers…. I also must add Neverwhere (more Neil Gaiman), the Tripods trilogy by John Christopher (starts with The White Mountains), and if you’re in the mood for something more grown-up, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell is truly fantastic and one of my all-time favorite books.

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