YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.
Today we come to the end of our month-long look at the Next Big Thing. We’ve looked at the Next Big Thing in horror, romance, historical fiction, manga, science fiction, and more. And now I’ve come to throw water on the whole project.
I give you five (possibly contradictory) reasons we shouldn’t be looking for the Next Big Thing:
1. There’s no such thing as the Next Big Thing
By which I mean, that’s simply not the way teens actually approach books. Sure, teens, like anyone, will be happy to jump on the bandwagon of a new popular book or series, but teens are in the wonderfully unique position of being constantly introduced to old books for the first time. For every new generation of teens, or for any one individual teen, something like A Clockwork Orange or Catch-22 can be the Next Big Thing as easily as Twilight or zombies.
2. It’s a fools errand
As we can see from the month of predictions on this site, everyone has predictions, but nobody knows until it happens. Sure, one or more of these predictions might come true, but that’s just statistics. No one really knows what’s coming next, or our jobs would be a lot simpler.
3. It’s a ploy for hipness
We librarianas really like to look like we’re in the know and to look like we know teen habits better than anyone. So we try to jump on the Next Big Thing before it becomes the Next Big Thing. Unfortunately, when we’re wrong, it makes us look desperate and out of touch. Why take the chance when it’s coming so soon anyway? Which brings us to the next reason:
4. There’s no point of knowing the Next Big Thing before it happens
The Next Big Thing is coming. It’s going to happen. It’s going to surprise most of us … and then we’ll catch up, buy all the right movies and books, talk to teens about them, and savor all the beauty of being part of something new. No need to waste so much time and energy beforehand.
5. But really, there’s no such thing as the Next Big Thing
Finally, and completely paradoxically, if we somehow could say in advance what the Next Big Thing will be, teens would reject it. They don’t want to be told by a bunch of adults what they should be reading or watching. That’s why it’s so hard for Hollywood to predict what movies are going to be blockbusters.
So there it is: five reasons we’ve just wasted a month of your life on predicting the Next Big Thing. (It was pretty fun, though — wasn’t it?)
— Mark Flowers, currently rereading Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz