Trending Topics in YA: Fairytale Retellings

As I’m sure most of you have noticed, fairytale retellings are hugely popular lately! I can’t even tell you how many books I’ve looked at in the past week alone that have been a retelling of a story I used to read as a child. What is the reason for the spike in retellings? I would say nostalgia plays a role–it’s nice to read something that we loved as children and brings back all of the memories and feelings that we had when our parents read us bedtime stories. Also, I think it’s really interesting to see the different spin that authors put on familiar stories and it revives a story that has grown old and somewhat boring.

I think the key to a good retelling is definitely the originality that an author can bring. For instance, Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer are retellings of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, respectively, yet the stories are completely different and original. While keeping some of the familiar aspects of the story, such as Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters or Little Red’s famous red cloak, each book offers an entirely new take on the fairytale and Meyer incorporates dystopian, steampunk, and scifi elements as well. Splintered by A.G. Howard, while not one of my favorites, also offered a new perspective on a familiar tale–Alice in Wonderland. It presents a much different version of Wonderland than either Lewis Carroll or Disney gave us, and its originality is what makes the story stand out.

Other fairytale retellings include Kill Me Softly, a book by Sarah Cross that has multiple fairytale retellings in one, Entwined by Heather Dixon, which is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Beastly by Alex Flinn, which retells the story of Beauty and the Beast.

What fairytale retellings have you read recently? Which retelling would you like to see written? I personally, would love a retelling of The Little Mermaid, which was my favorite as a child.

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Trending Topics in YA: New Adult Fiction

New Adult fiction has become increasingly popular lately and a lot of new authors are also self-publishing books in this genre. New Adult typically features characters over the age of 18, usually in college and going through a different type of “coming of age” experience than what is normally seen in Young Adult fiction. A lot of people who read YA also read New Adult books, so NA tends to have a larger group of readers because people who are in their twenties and thirties tend to read NA along with the large YA audience.

I personally have very mixed views on this emerging genre–some NA books that I have read are fantastic but others are awful. Since the age range is much larger for NA books, authors can get away with more racy scenes and curse words, but some NA books just go over the top with this. For example–I started to read Wanted by Kelly Elliot a few weeks ago and I literally only got 25 pages in before I had to put it down. Aside from a multitude of grammatical mistakes and a very strange style of writing, it seemed like every other word was a curse word. I don’t have a problem most of the time with cursing in books, but in this book it was completely random and awkward and the frequency of it did not make sense at all.

Another NA book I read recently is The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski. This had much better writing than Wanted but seemed borderline Fifty Shades of Grey. This brings up another interesting point with NA fiction–there is much more sex in NA obviously, because of the age of the characters, but how much is too much? I suppose this is also a personal opinion–some people may not mind it but others may have a problem with it. It just seems that authors are using NA as an excuse to write sexier scenes, and I really don’t think this should be the sole purpose of the genre.

I have read some excellent NA books, however. Easy by Tammara Webber was a really great book with a reasonable amount of steaminess and a beautiful story. It was wonderfully written and dealt with a lot of issues in a really great way. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is another NA book that I really loved. This book has many mixed reviews because it does touch on some controversial issues such as possessiveness and a borderline abusive relationship, but I personally liked the way McGuire deals with these issues and does not sugarcoat the story at all.

I think New Adult is definitely a genre that I am going to keep my eye on because it seems like it does have a lot of potential. Have you read any NA books recently? What are your opinions on this emerging genre?

Trending Topics in YA

It seems like YA literature keeps going through different trends each year. There was the whole Twilight phenomenon and now The Hunger Games has taken the lead, but what’s next? Here are some current trends emerging in young adult books today:

ZOMBIES ARE THE NEW VAMPIRES

Now that the Twilight saga is (finally) coming to an end, vampires seem to have taken a backseat to a different type of creature: ZOMBIES!! As a huge fan of all things zombies, I am thrilled at the comeback zombies are making in pop culture today. A few years ago you almost couldn’t turn on a TV without some mention of vampires, whether it be Twilight, True Blood, or The Vampire Diaries. Today it seems like most people are over the whole vampire thing. After the release and subsequent explosive popularity of Twilight, everyone and their mother tried to hop on the vampire bandwagon and write a book/TV show/movie about vampires. This year there is a serious lack of vampire books, with two notable exceptions:  The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. When picking up both of these books to read, my first thought was that these authors are really pushing it by still trying to keep the vampire craze going. However, I have to say that with both books I was pleasantly surprised. And the reason that I enjoyed both immensely was not because I am still a sucker (no pun intended) for all things vampire, but rather because each of these novels sought to distinguish themselves from the traditional portrayal of vampires and from the supremely overdone trope of vampire meets human girl/boy and falls in love.

With the vampire trend dwindling down, there has definitely been a rise in books/TV shows/movies about zombies. I would attribute a lot of this to The Walking Dead, which has gained an insane following and put zombies back into pop culture. There has been a definite increase in YA books about zombies, a couple of examples being This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers and (still to come) The Infects by Sean Beaudoin. There has also been an increase in the number of YA zombie books being made into movies: World War Z, Warm Bodies, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth, all three of which are set to be in theaters next year. With the significant decrease in vampire books and the rising popularity of zombies, I definitely think it is safe to say that zombies are the new vampires.

RISE OF THE MERMAIDS

Mermaids are HUGE now! This year alone there have been so many YA books about mermaids:  Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, Wake by Amanda Hocking, Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown, and The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova are just a few. I can honestly say that I did not see this trend coming, but I’m glad it did! I don’t think I had ever read a book about mermaids before this year and will definitely admit to being a little skeptical about the subject at first but Of Poseidon definitely changed my opinion and left me craving MORE MERMAIDS! I look forward to seeing how this trend evolves in the future.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE WIZARDS/WITCHES GONE??

There has been a serious lack of YA books about magic lately. I don’t know if it’s just because people feel it has been overdone or if everyone is worried that they will be unable to live up to Harry Potter (which is most likely true) but for some reason there has been a big decrease in the amount of witches and wizards present in YA literature. There have been some great books about wizards/witches in the past few years–Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia for example—but 2012 hasn’t really seen anything in the way of magic. However, with the Beautiful Creatures movie being released early 2013, it is possible that magic will have a bit of a revival.

SERIES VS. STANDALONE

It seems to me that nearly every book that I pick up lately is part one of a series/saga/trilogy. It is very rare that you find a standalone YA book today and I believe there are pros and cons to both series and standalone novels. The drawback of a series is that (at least in my case) it seems like you’re always waiting for the next book to be written/released. I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up a book, not knowing that it is part one of a series, and got to the end only to see the words END OF PART ONE, TO BE CONTINUED, or something of that variation. There are times when I love this, and it is usually because the book is so good that I just want to read more about the characters and the world they live in. There are other times when I hate this, either because the book is so good that I’m angry that I have to wait months/years for the next one, or because I’m just pissed that every book has to be part of a series. I can understand why many authors are writing series instead of standalone novels–sometimes there is just so much to the story that to fit it all in one book would be ridiculous–but in some cases it seems like the author is just dragging the story out so that they can make money off of yet another book about the same thing (i.e. The Fallen series by Lauren Kate). Then again there are some series, like Michael Grant’s Gone series, that keep going on and on and just keep getting better as they do. I suppose it just really depends on how good the author is at keeping the series alive but I still wonder–can nobody write a good standalone novel anymore? The only exceptions I have found lately have been Courtney Summers and John Green. Both have written exceptionally good standalone novels that in no way seemed incomplete or left me demanding a sequel.

What do you think? Are there any other trends that you’ve noticed emerging this year? Which trends do you love and which could you do without?