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.
October is the perfect time of year for creepy, stay-up-late, you-really-shouldn’t-read-this-before-bedtime kind of books. That’s right: horror!
I’m about to date myself, but here goes: horror was BIG in YA fiction when I was a teen in the 1990s. Despite the fact that I couldn’t stomach scary movies, I remember being absolutely hooked on Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike books as a 13-year-old. I couldn’t get enough of being scared! Lessons learned: astral projection is dangerous because your evil twin could steal your body while you’re away from it. Also, don’t even think about participating in chain letters. Just … don’t.
Alas, for a time from the 1990s to early 2000s, horror seemed to take a backseat to other genres in YA. Whither the serial killers? Sure, there were vampires … but they were sparkly and alluring instead of terrifying. Cirque du Freak author Darren Shan did his part to keep YA horror afloat with his Demonata series (published between 2005 and 2009), but there simply wasn’t a very wide selection of titles for the teen horror fan.
But have no fear — or rather, have plenty of fear: YA horror seems to be on the rise these days. Perhaps it’s a natural progression after the rise in paranormal romance in the mid-2000s and the current trend of often-disturbing dystopian settings. Clearly today’s YA readers enjoy a little darkness in their literature — why not take it a step further into full-fledged horror?