It seems like everyone is wondering what the next big trend in YA will be. First it was witches and wizards, and then vampires, and then angels had a turn.
What’s trending now? Why, oppressive societies, of course! Books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched explore a deeply-rooted fear in young and old readers alike: what if our lives were controlled by a seemingly untouchable entity?
It’s really no surprise that it’s trending. Dystopian scenarios can seem like only a step away from reality sometimes—for example, what if SOPA really did come to pass and our favourite websites were censored? Dystopian societies don’t have to operate on magic. The dark side of the human psyche has all the power here, which makes it all the more plausible. And the more plausible something seems, the more believable and relatable it is to the reader, and the more they might enjoy the book.
While it’s hard to predict what kind of book will find success in the future, let’s look at these other creature-genres:
Fairies: Fairies (also Faeries!) have seemed to be lurking in the background for quite a while now. Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series has seen some staying power, as well as Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey Series. The problem with fairies is that the lore is dark, and it’s hard to vary the theme: child gets switched at birth, and/or teen girl discovers she’s meant to be queen of the fairies and/or falls in love with the fairy king.
Mermaids: Okay, I’d like to see more mermaids. Not just because I happen to like listening to The Little Mermaid Soundtrack (it’s catchy!), but there is something alluring about being able to breathe underwater. Large parts of the ocean haven’t even been explored yet! There is a lot of potential here—it’s like science fiction, but instead of going into space, you don’t have to leave Earth!
Werewolves: They tag-team with vampires, so one could say they’ve enjoyed their time in the spotlight. Works like Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver have put a different spin on werewolves that makes them feel more real without their bloodthirsty nemeses.
Adult Fairy-Tale Retellings: Wicked has seen wild success, with multiple sequels and a musical performed worldwide (when we were in London I got to see it, it was awesome!). Some this success rides with the dystopian genre, but the real magic of fairy-tale retellings is that they play on your nostalgia. We remember the stories from our youth fondly and wish we could experience them the same way again—after all, watching your favourite cartoons as an adult as nowhere near as satisfying! Fairy-Tales can also employ multiple creature types and satisfy a variety of audiences.
What do you think? What creatures and/or subgenres of YA would you like to see more of?