YA Book Trend Report & The Trends of 2018
This is an article I wrote for The Nerd Daily earlier this year. I really enjoyed the throwback and analysis of what might be to come for YA. I’d love your opinion on it! I think I’d like to make this a series and do one for 2019 as well.
The category that is Young Adult is filled with so many different types of books and genres nowadays that it can a bit tricky to find what to read since there are so many options.
However, like most things, there are certain styles and genres that create a trend.
Many trends have emerged to worldwide acclaim this century and are part of (now) adults’ teenage reading favourites including mine. Trends peak and fade with time and interest by readers and many new ones emerge every year, so let’s go down memory lane and see the biggest trends in the last decade or so, as well as the current trends and predictions for 2018 and beyond.
The Paranormal Band: Vampires, Werewolves & Witches
It would be an understatement to say that the paranormal trend took to young adults (and adults!) by storm. It was so hugely popular especially with the fast development of social media that it began a domino effect and crossover into hollywood as YA book to movie adaptations smashed box offices around the world. Many consider Twilight as the pivotal origin of the paranormal hype as sparkling vampires became famous. More and more successful novels and series such as Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood), and House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, were consequently eaten up by readers, some adapted in movies and many remain current favourites for readers. This trend didn’t only apply to vampires but also to witches (Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia), ghosts (Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake) and werewolves (Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater).
Angels and Demons
There’s nothing more attractive to teen girls than the heavenly dream of finding the perfect boyfriend that is literally an angel or at least angel related, despite all the angst and probable family issues it brings. Angels and Demons was another huge trend, as a subcategory of the paranormal and fantasy genres. Angels were all the rage, with the building of backstories, describing those beautiful wings and the challenges of falling in love with an angel – an angel who might’ve literally fallen out of heaven and fallen for you too. Demons played their part too of course, and some might say the mixed elements of angel and demon drama in The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and the entire Shadowhunter Chronicles it triggered is what continues to make it the most successful angel-themed YA book series to date.
A Recipe for a Utopia with a Dash of Science Fiction
Dystopian and science fiction was another massively successful trend that created many book to movie adaptations and loyal fandoms worldwide. The concept of different worlds and societies in the future gone wrong was fresh and thought-provoking for young adults. It sparked discussion on themes of identity, society, class, politics, power and different versions of reality in a unique way. It even had teenagers taking personality tests for which faction you’d be in (Divergent by Veronica Roth). The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the obvious game-changing novel that began this trend with many more that preceded it like Matched by Ally Condie and Divergent by Veronica Roth adding to the fuel.
Fantastic Female Fronted High Fantasy
Any current YA reader would have heard of Sarah J Maas at least once, since her Throne of Glass series was among the great number of amazing female fronted high fantasy series to influence YA books in the last few years. These fantasy books are packed with action, intricate world-building, a bit of romance here and there, and a wide cast of characters to choose your favourite from. The protagonists aren’t delicate ladies either but are strong women who won’t back down or give up the fight and inspire other young women everywhere. Not only do these high fantasy books create an addiction for more but they have also popularised sub-genres of faeries, assassins and dragons which are all current trends of today. These high fantasy books had so much imagination to offer and are still cult favourites in the YA high fantasy genre since they brought so much to love. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder brought gorgeous magic, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard brought spies in disguise and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo brought the most badass villain who likes to wear black. It is no wonder that this started a trend and is still successful to this day.
Retold Again and Again
Retellings have also become a trend in the last few years, with many more reaching beyond the usual Grimm Brothers fairy tales. While books based on these tales like Cinder by Marissa Meyer and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, inspired by Cinderella and Beauty & The Beast respectively, are still extremely popular, there has been a great turnaround for alternatives. A unique and well-loved series by Rick Riordan is of course Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, which is based on greek mythology. Other alternative inspiring retellings are The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, a retelling of the Arabian Nights and Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff which is a retelling of japanese mythology. These books have become quite popular and trending with readers because the innovation of having the same story retold in a different and new way that is fresh and well executed is very appealing. Let’s hope this trend doesn’t die out too fast and continues its minor reign within YA fantasy books.
The Diversity Movement
Diversity has become a huge issue with readers and within the publishing community as more people demanded and expressed their need for equal and widespread representations. Race, sexuality, disabilities and gender themes have been some of the issues young adults have been craving to read in YA Fiction so they can relate what they’re reading to who they are and their everyday lives. The huge push by readers for more diversity has been a slow and successful ongoing trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon and sure has gotten some incredible diverse novels out there for us to enjoy.
YA Trend Predictions for 2018
So, these are some of the trends that have occured in the last decade, but what about what’s happening now? Currently many of the trends below are predicted to make it big and rise in popularity. The success of certain novels in these genres in the last year shows how future books in those same categories can truly boom.
Thrillers & Whodunnits
Novels like One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco in the last year has shown how powerful and addictive thrillers and mysteries can be, and this genre really seems like it’s about to take off especially because of the second rise in popularity of the book to TV adaptation of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
2018 Book Recommendations:
All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor
Four teenagers obsessed with a novel called Undertow make a plan to befriend its author Fatima Ro, and they can’t believe their luck when she lets them into her life. Until they are shocked to discover that Fatima’s latest book unveils all their secrets and revelations with devastating effects.
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
After the multiple consecutive deaths of cheerleaders, Sunnybrook High disbands its cheer squad. Yet 5 years later it seems that there is more to it and something is still going on as Monica, the sister of the last cheerleader killed, unravels secrets and suspicious activity. Some people in Sunnybrook may be hiding more than they’re willing to admit, and even though there are no more cheerleaders, it doesn’t mean everyone is safe.
Hi-Tech Worlds & Games
With the massive fandoms and widespread love for gaming, social media and new technology in this era, it makes sense that young adults would embrace these high tech sci-fi books that show the potential technology may have one day in the future. The thought of spaceships and virtual reality gaming The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman and Warcross by Marie Lu have brought in the last year are pretty mind-blowing and interesting to read about. It seems logical that this YA genre and its themes will remain consistent in 2018.
2018 Book Recommendations:
The Leveller by Julia Durango
Nixy Bauer is a bounty hunter with the task of taking kids back to their parents in the real world from their virtual reality gaming world. However when the game’s rich developper loses track of his own kid, Nixy has the biggest challenge of her life finding him especially when it seems that he wasn’t trying to hide but is being held captive against his will within the game.
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
A space action-packed Anastasia retelling, this fun sci-fi novel depicts a girl named Ana, who was found aboard a pod with no recollection of her past. Desperate to help fix the android named D09 who was aboard with her, she tries to find the coordinates to the lost ship that may hold all her answers. Until a spoiled Ironblood boy beats her to it, yet events unfold that have them both running for their lives, marked as fugitives, and not everyone wants to capture them alive.
Horror has always be a favourite genre for many people in fiction, however for young adult fiction it can be quite rare. Not all young people tend to want to be scared, however this genre might just be on the rise. With the popularity of Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (Sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper) and recent release The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, many more older young adults may lean more towards this direction.
2018 Book Recommendations:
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
The sequel to the its predecessor Scythe, Thunderhead follows the adventures, deadly tasks and dilemmas its protagonists must endure following the last event of Scythe.
Scythe introduces a dystopia far in the future where humans are no longer affected by age, disease or war. Now scythes are the only ones who can and will end life to manage the world’s constant growing population. Rowan and Citra are two teenagers unwillingly chosen to apprentice for a Scythe. They must master the art of killing yet they must also understand learning the consequences of failing to take a life, as it may take their own.
Contagion by Erin Bowman
An urgent SOS is sent from a distant planet. A small crew is dispatched for search and rescue yet what they find is something best left uncovered as they try to piece together who or what decimated a whole operation on this planet.}
As mentioned above, the explosion of diversity in YA literature has created so many more representations and opportunities of expression. The diversity movement has also helped create another subgenre of Realistic Fiction. This genre is basically fiction that describes real life issues of today, more serious points of discussion everyone should be exposed to regardless of what format they’re influenced by including books. This subgenre is great and it seems like a major theme in 2018 for YA contemporaries and fantasies as well. There’s hope that more novels with themes such as mental illness, race, lgbtqia+, the effect of terrorism as well as teen depression and suicide are well read by teens to engage in discussion about important social and life issues we may all face.
2018 Book Recommendations:
Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter
Maddie’s best friend Logan is the President’s son, while her dad is a secret service agent. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and forces her to be dragged to the middle of nowhere in Alaska where she gets not word from Logan. Then he shows up, 6 years later, and an assailant gets in the way of Maddie killing him herself and she really wants to.
The Place Between Breaths by An Na
Grace is in a race against time and she doesn’t even know it. When her mother flees in fear of hurting their family due to the schizophrenia she’s been struggling with for years, her dad’s schizophrenia research continues in full force. Grace does her part by interning there, and they find what might be a breakthrough, but Grace starts to unravel and starts to question what’s real and what isn’t. Is her discovery real or a side effect of schizophrenia taking hold?
Under the Sea:
While many mermaid novels and series have come out in the past decade such as Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, there hasn’t been a whole lotta love for them but there may be a change in the air. These book recommendations below could mean a massive turnaround for mermaid to come in the future.
2018 Book Recommendations:
To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Princess Lira is a lethal siren royal, known for bringing prince’s hearts home to her collection until she’s forced to kill one of their own. As punishment, she’s made a human and has a year to bring home the heart of Prince Elian, a prince who’s siren killing hobby is peaked when a drowning woman he saves promises him the key to wiping out all sirenkind.
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Evie has become an outcast witch ever since her best friend Anna drowned, yet she’s convinced Anna survived as she meets another girl with limited time on land who resembles Anna. However, she’s got secrets of her own and Evie will try anything to keep her humanity as well as a prince’s heart with her magic until she discovers too late, the truth of the bargain she made.
Do you know any of these iconic novels and series in these older trends? What do you think of these trend predictions for 2018? Let me know in the comments!
Images sourced from Goodreads.
Cailin @ Rose Petal Pages
I love this post! It’s so cool to see the rise and fall of certain genres’ popularity looking back. I remember only reading a few of the paranormal/angel books when I was juuust getting into YA, and then really getting into dystopians like The Hunger Games and Divergent which kind of fostered my love for young adult books. Now I’m happily immersed in the flood of fantasy books we have xD And I love all your recs too! I completely agree w/ Stalking Jack the Ripper + Hunting Prince Dracula–those books are SO good and I wouldn’t be surprised if they launched a trend of their own.
Thank you! I totally agree, I remember myself reading all those books (well-majority) and it’s crazy the phases YA has gone through! I hope SJTR starts its own historical fantasy thriller trend, that would be amazing!