So the other day I went to Book Expo America with the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, and it was pretty awesome if I do say so myself. My shoulder is still stiff from carrying the oversized bag of books that I got at the conference, but it was totally worth it! I loved being able to pick up and read books that haven’t been released yet. I also have a list of books to get this fall that look like they’ll be pretty good.
So comments on the conference (I definitely want to go back in the future!): judging from where the longest lines were it looks like YA fiction is very popular right now. The line for Kristin Cashore’s book Bitterblue (companion book to her second novel Fire – I need to read her first book Graceling this summer) was filled with avid readers. Other long lines that I saw were for Meagan Spooner’s book Skylark, Maggie Steifvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff’s book The Curiosities, (where the three authors share their creative processes for YA fiction) both of which are coming out this fall, and David Levithan’s Every Day which is coming out later this summer.
Those were the books that I couldn’t get due to line lengths but I did still come away from the conference with quite a few (free) books in tow that I’m pretty excited about, and a new notebook as well. I will delve into that pile once I finish the book I’m reading now (Jane Eyre – review coming soon) so I’m looking forward to that.
As I said before, it looks like YA fiction is really booming right now and after the conference I couldn’t help but ask myself why. Granted, there were teenagers in those hugely long lines that would fall into the median YA age group, but at the same time most of the things I hear about Young Adult fiction I either hear from people around my age or older. I knew I should read The Hunger Games, when my friend was telling me about it, but what solidified it for me was overhearing a conversation about the book between two ladies on the subway after they had a discussion about dress fittings and wedding plans . It was then that I realized, that yes, I did like YA fiction myself, but maybe there was something universal about the genre that gravitates itself towards a wide audience of readers – ie Harry Potter.
So what about this genre makes it so big? As literary agent Meredith Barns told The Atlantic in an article last year, “YA is not to the written word as PG is t0 film”.
So true. Part of why I think YA is so popular is because good YA deals with large issues in a relatable yet serious way. Not to mention that YA plots are fun, enjoyable and adventurous. I think that YA is one of the more diverse genres right now, beyond general fiction itself, although it does go thru strong phases – paranormal, dystopian… Magic, fantasy, relational stories (chick lit), and historical fiction can all be categorized as Young Adult literature under the right circumstances. So what are those circumstances exactly? The general consensus on the internet is that YA stories focus on young protagonists, and generally follow a coming-of-age narrative plot where protagonists ultimately grow and mature as a character. It makes sense that these themes would resonate with young readers, but the universality of the theme of change, and exciting and unique plots, are really what makes YA fiction stand out in the crowd today.
So overall I think that’s why the lines at BEA were so long. Just some thoughts. What do you think?