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Upcoming trends we see in YA lit

by flickr user Cea
We here at The Hub read a lot of YA lit, which gives us a broad perspective on what’s come out recently and what trends in what’s published might be emerging. I asked our bloggers what they’ve been seeing recently; here’s what they had to say.

Jack the Ripper. Between September of last year and this month, three Ripper-based books have been published: Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star, Ripper by Stefan Petrucha, and Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves. I actually think this is a sub-trend of a bigger serial killers trend (see also: Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers) but three books featuring the same historical figure in seven months is worth nothing.
Emily Calkins

Serial Killers. Maureen Johnson was onto something with The Name of the Star. Books with serial killers that either just came out or are soon to be published include I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, Ripper by Stefan Petrucha, Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves, and a nonfiction book on the Boston Strangler by Paul Hoblin.
Erin Daly

One mini-trend I’ve noticed is teens scavenging to survive. I think this was inspired by the success of the Printz Award-winning Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, but I’ve also recently seen it in Trash by Andy Mulligan and The Glass Collector by Anna Perera. I’m sure there are more!

I’m also not quite sure I’ve seen enough of these for it to be a trend, but I’ve noticed circuses popping up in YA lit recently, too. There’s Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan and Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby, but I’m not sure two books constitutes a trend. The Night Circus was written for adults but was an Alex Award recipient this year, so maybe I can count that?
Gretchen Kolderup

One thing I feel like I’m seeing more and more of is dual-perspective books where the chapters go back and forth between and male and female characters’ perspectives. Some examples off the top of my head are Incarceron, The Scorpio Races, Across the Universe, and Legend.

Also, I swear a couple years ago I had never heard the word Nephilim before, and then after reading the Cassandra Clare books I’m seeing it everywhere–from Becca Fitzgerald’s books and other supernatural series to Printz winner Where Things Come Back.
Annie Schutte

A trend I continue to see in YA is how to get rid of the ‘rents. I’ve taken to predicting how the author will get those pesky parental units out of the way so the teens can {save the world, have a romance, catch a killer, see dead people, etc}. We can even look for “sub-trends” in this. Will it continue to be boarding school, or car wrecks, or death by a mythological creature, or complete unobservancy, or abandonment, or going on a trip and leaving the kid home alone? What will these ingenious YA authors think of next?
Michelle Blank

Game of Thrones for teens is one of the trends I’ve been keeping an eye on–there are at least two I can think of coming out this fall: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Razorbill) and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury).
Kelly Jensen

I don’t know if the authors are aware this but my teen readers are constantly asking for science fiction, not dystopias. They also ask for books where they aren’t any grownups. A trend of a futuristic world where everyone is young would be very popular in fiction with my readers.
Laura Perenic

A trend I see coming, other than a glut of dark dystopian/whimsical dystopian novels (is that even a thing?) is straight-up, non-dystopian, space-ships-and-aliens science fiction for teens. Possibly this is wishful thinking on my part, but a handful of titles have surfaced that make me hopeful. I’m thinking books like Across the Universe, Glow, Black Hole Sun, Partials, the Star Kingdom series (first book by David Weber, the ones to follow by Jane Lindskold), Losers in Space, John Scalzi’s Redshirts (which is published for adults, but should have big crossover appeal), Cinder, etc. I’m seeing more books actually set in space, and with the excitement building over the Ender’s Game movie (plus lots of other SF films coming up) I think (hope!) there will be more and more.

What would I like to see as a future trend? Girls’ adventure novels, exceptional mythic fiction, and more books about completely average teens with no special powers, super-lineage, or extraordinary fates who manage to be amazing anyway.
Julie Bartel

I’ve been noticing a trend of amateur girl-sleuth stories, a more hip and updated Nancy Drew. Examples include Kim Harrington’s stories Clarity and Perception, Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig (who does the opposite of solving a mystery, instead perpetuating a crime–but it definitely has the same feel to it), Deadly Cool and Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday. The female protagonists may not be the most popular girls in school but they stumble into murder and mischief, cheating and scandals very easily and then use clues to help their classmates. There’s a bit of romance and snappy dialogue and they’re just really quick and fun reads!
Sarah Wethern

I just read two separate series that feature poisons explicitly: This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (book #1 in a trilogy; the second, Such Wicked Intent comes out this August) and The Poison Diaries and The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood (book #1 and #2 in a trilogy).

I’ve also seen a few ballet titles come out in the last few months. Zombies are also popular, so I think zombie ballet dancers are going to be the next big thing in dance-related books.
Amanda Margis

A trend I see? Girls who know how to kill people. Trained assassins, bodyguards, mage warriors, and girls who are just good with knives. It’s a long-standing trend, but it’s definitely building momentum. Ismae from Grave Mercy immediately comes to mind, as well as Tris from Divergent and Insurgent, Vienne from Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun and Clary in The Mortal Instruments. There are probably more!
Jessica Pryde

Ghosts are a Girls Best Friend–or ARE they? In Ruined by Paula Morris, graphic novel Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, we see girls with ghostly friends. I think this is an interesting trend because so often the ghosts and the girls they befriend both embody the loneliness of being an outsider and finally finding that ONE friend, but also the slightly sinister way that manipulation and mistrust can play into teen girl relationships.
Mia Cabana

Additionally, we had a few playful ideas about what might be coming in YA lit:

We’re going to see hard-boiled noir detective stories come back. Big time. The world-weary detectives, the femmes fatales … these books will be trouble, but we find ourselves irresistibly drawn to their danger, their allure. We know we won’t come back from this trend.
Maria Kramer

YA fiction will spill over into other categories, and we’ll see self-help books that capitalize on the popularity of YA fiction, including Make Your Relationship Sparkle: Un-dead Your Marriage, Dystopia in the Cubicles: Surviving at Work, The Zombies Next Door: A Guide to Suburban Living, and He Who Must Not Be Named: How I Learned to Stop Hating Myself and Conquer My Rivals.
Joel Bruns

What trends have you noticed in what you’ve been reading lately? Let us know in the comments!

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6 Comments

  1. Sarah Sarah

    You guys pinpointed a lot of great trends!
    A trend I’ve noticed recently are a lot of MUSIC/Rock band related books coming out! Disenchantments by LaCour, Rock On by Vega, Brooklyn Burning by Brezenoff, My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Jeschonek, and lots more!

  2. Laura says that “A trend of a futuristic world where everyone is young would be very popular in fiction with my readers” — I’m hoping that Dom Testa writes more books in his Galahad series–the space craft carrying teens to its new planet has finally reached its destination… It’s a series that would fit well in Julie’s list.

    It sure would be nice if we could leave love triangles behind….one of my favorite things about Bitterblue was that there was no love triangle, and she didn’t find perfect, all encompasing love!

  3. Another YA pure Sci-fi title: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad. I ordered it for our YA collection and it flew off the shelf.

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