Friday, November 9, 2012

YALSA Conf report - Big things on the horizon

 HOT, hot topic at the conference
Speculation from the librarians attending the conference on what will be/remain big. This area was a huge discussion topic, filling several sessions and off-session discussions. These results relate to reader answers to surveys, the kinds of books young adults ask librarians for, and personal observation.


Paranormal will remain big. The genre continually reinvents itself, from ghosts to witches and wizards. Then vampires and shape-shifters arrived and became (and remain) huge. Zombies are a big and growing thing now, along with fallen angels. Speculation about future incarnations of the genre included mermaids and leprechauns and supernatural beings from other cultures. (There was a big cheer at the idea of a leprechaun paranormal). Many also speculated/hoped for paranormal stories based on myths and legends from other countries and societies, not just ancient Greek and Roman. Examples librarians hoped to see int he future were the chupacabra fromMexico and orishas from Africa. 

Reissue, but with a twist

Everything old is new again. A lot of old classics are being reissued by publishers with bright new covers to attract teens. But what the kids are are asking for is the new-style twist on those old favorites, like:
  • Android Karenina
  • Cinder (Cinderella)
  • Jane Slayer
  • Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

 “The WEIRD”

Oddball things are always big good with teens, and librarians see that as something that will continue to grow.  Especially the scary stuff - horror never really died off
  • Where things come back – John Corey Whaley
  • Why we broke up – Daniel Handler
  • Dead End in Norwelt – John Gantos
  • Rotters – Daniel Kraus (a personal favorite that changed my funeral plans and includes the worst revenge of the bullied teen scenes since Carrie. Do NOT read this book on a full stomach)

Other areas

 Quest novels, both in science fiction and fantasy, seem primed for a comeback.


The thing to remember is that successful YA authors tend to put out strong books that even adults will enjoy because they know how to create something that fights to be read. Teens will "put down a book in a heartbeat" if it's not compelling. 
Librarians see growth in books with strong “World Building.” Young adults are asking for protagonists facing strong external conflicts while dealing with complex inner challenges. Librarians speculated that this was part of the allure of Dystopian, based on the kinds of issues and characters kids ask for books about. But they often add they want the story to be in a world they would want to live in, unlike most dystopian societies.
Which brings us to realistic fiction. There was a lot of speculation that the next really big thing could be a wave of realistic fiction with strong world building and protagonists who have heavy-hitting inner conflicts. Kids want to get away from their regular world, but not too far. Many want to believe that what they read about COULD be true.

More on realistic fiction in a future post.

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