Over the past few years, thanks to the explosive popularity of The Hunger Games and Twilight, paranormal and sci-fi/fantasy teen lit has become hot. It seems that every week there is a new novel about girls with special talents, romances that span centuries, and the latest trend—living in a restrictive society that has banned love, caffeine (**shudder**), and pretty much anything else that is enjoyable.
Given today’s political and economic climate I see why reading about what could happen should the U.S. government go all totalitarian is appealing. No choice in your future partner? Hell no I’ve said to friends over dinner, kicking off a long discussion about the things we could live without. Conclusion: the Kardashian family, jeggings, and the idea of pizza sauce as a vegetable.
But, guys, there’s so much more great lit in the genre.
I certainly appreciate a good dystopian novel or YA fantasy as much as the next person. Delirium, The Scorpio Races, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and All These Things I’ve Done are just a few of my recent favorites—and I’m not alone. Nearly all of these books made the New York Times chapter book best-seller list at some point in the past year.
Yet in 2011 I also read a number of amazing contemporary young adult novels like Kimberly Marcus’ debut Exposed, Jenny Downham’s gritty You Against Me, and Cris Beam’s powerful I am J—just to name a few. Although included on year-end best-of lists here and there, these books never managed to garner the same widespread love, and I don’t understand why. Personally, for every heart-pounding moment of action outrunning a sinister government agent/zombie I read, I found an affecting passage that made my chest thrum just as loud.
It’s wonderful to see how much the YA genre has grown in the past few years and I can’t wait to see what comes next. But whether it’s robots or mermaids or maybe just a good old high school friendship gone awry, lets honor the authors who show us our world in new and beautiful ways right now.