Friday, March 26, 2010

Bologna is the New Vampire!

Today officially ends the 2010 Bologna Children's Book Fair and in case you have not been checking the #BBF10 page on Twitter as often as I have, here are two trends I've noticed that I think are worth discussing.

Trend, the 1st - Death to Vampire Romances!
Every year, agents, publishers, and writers try to come up with the new "it" trend that will finally put vampires back in their coffins (at least for a while). It's true, vampires have been "so five minutes ago" for a couple years now, and yet the industry just can't shake 'em. However, given the responses from Bologna this year, it looks as if publishers finally have had enough. Once the last Twilight movie is released, I think everyone will take a much-needed breather, and in the meantime, some of contenders as "New Reigning Supernatural Thingy" are werewolves, zombies. angels, clones, and mermaids.

Truthfully, I don't think anything is ever going to be the "new vampire" because no matter what comes next, vampires will find their way back. They will always be sexy, mysterious, and the most human-like for writers to show ranges of emotion and acceptance into society (or a high school). But I agree that writers and publishers need to give it a rest. Just not eternally. 

Now, you all know I love me some science fiction and fantasy, but personally, I'd love to see more realistic young adult fiction make a comeback. This overwhelming amount of YA fantasy, as huge as it is, is a relatively new concept. YA as its own genre in general is pretty new, and I remember the few books that were available to me as a YA-er had a huge impact on my life. They were about teens like me going through everyday situations at home and at school just like me. The supernatural is fun and can draw heavy parallels to real life, but there's something about reality that, in my humble opinion, just can't be beat.

Trend , the 2nd - Middle Grade is the new YA
Something else I was very excited to see come out of Bologna was that a lot of publishers are looking for middle grade fiction. I don't remember any book that called itself a middle grade when I was ten or twelve. Instead, I just went straight to the "Teen" or "Young Adult" section at my local Borders and called it a day. Looking back, some of those R.L. Stines could have been called MG, but that term just didn't exist yet. Neither did the word "tween."

Middle grade is not my favorite genre. Those tween, and slightly younger than tween, years are tricky and mysterious to me, so I tend to stay away. However, I am excited about this potential rise in MG because I think it is a very important genre. There are about 8 bazillion children's books to choose from and about the same amount of YA. Tween years don't get as much love, and with nothing to read that speaks to you, what do you read? (The answer: video games.)

Another reason I think MG is so important is that, even more than the YA crowd, the target audience for MG are of more impressionable ages. Young enough to still believe everything the adults tell them, but old enough to think that being around said adults is, like, the least cool thing in the world. Simultaneously independent and dependent, they are pre-pubescent children without the luxury of being young enough to act like a child. 

At twelve, I was an angsty little thing, wearing all black and pretending to be depressed. By fourteen, I was pretty much cured of this. Is it a coincidence that I was cured the very year I was old enough to read books written for me again? Think about it...

The point is, books matter. With each year of teenhood being different from the last, there need to be books written for all possible age groups. Otherwise the terrorists win.

Post-wrap up question: What trend, supernatural or otherwise, would you like to see take over MG & YA lit this year? 

By the way, Hemingway Heroine has a really great Bologna round-up that's worth checking out too!

10 comments:

  1. Diane LaPolla3/27/10, 10:56 AM

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  2. Hey Sarah,

    As far as the supernatural focus goes, I would be happy if we could get back into mermaids, ha ha.
    As far as YA goes in general, it's one of my favorite genres. When I was about 9-13, I really loved YA historical fiction/nonfiction. Like you said, books about girls (and boys) my own age, going through a lot of the same life lessons, etc. However, the aspect of the story being set in a different time period appealed to me just as much as the characters. I liked the American Girl Book collection (even though some books weren't so well written) as well as any novels about pioneer girls, Native American girls, etc. I think this tied in well to make-believe games I used to play when I was a bit younger; the combination of that fantastic historical aspect with the real life issues helped me segue into adult life in a way. Great post!:o)

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  3. I'm with you. I would love to see stories about girls just like me going through what I've gone through. Twilight and Harry Potter will always hold a special place in my heart but I need a little real. I've been turning to Nicolas Sparks. I love tragic love stories (sometimes), they are more true to life: most loves don't last and aren't fairy tale.

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  4. I think realistic fiction will make a comeback. I also love historical fiction, especially in character-driven stories, because it only proves that no matter the circumstances, human emotion is timeless.

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  5. Nicole, I agree with you about the tragic sometimes being more true to life. Nicholas Sparks is a little too sad for me! But I do see the appeal in not letting the main characters get together in the end. (Sometimes)

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  6. Ross Pattermann4/7/10, 2:06 AM

    To be honest, I am surprised that so few writers partake of the vast well of Hinduism. Why no stories about modern day avatars? Why no stories about living as a god in the twenty-first century - a landscape that seemingly has no place for gods. As someone who studied Hinduism and South East Asia for some time (UW-Madison - Go Badgers!) it has perplexed me why more authors have not chosen to utilize such a rich and vibrant culture in fantasy novels. Heck, maybe I'll write it. :) Anywho, it seems that angels and demons are the hot new item to write about. Only time will tell what will be the next "Twilight" or "Harry Potter."

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  7. Ross, I think that means you're going to have to be the one to start that trend!

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  8. Yay for mermaids! *claps fins*
    I'd also like to see genies. Can I get a story about a hot genie high school guy that will grant me--I mean the helpless MC--endless wishes?

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  9. Yes! How are genies not a trend already??

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  10. Ross Pattermann4/27/10, 2:08 AM

    Well see, everyone calls them genies when they should be called Djinn. And Djinn are truly fascinating beings: they have free will, live in a world parallel to our own, and possess great powers. Now there's a story, maybe an exiled prince of the djinn who masquerades as a human who goes to high school, falls in love with a girl, and then gets recalled by his father, but does not want to go back.

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