Trends in YA & How Things Have Changed Since I Started Reading - The Butterfly Reader

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Trends in YA & How Things Have Changed Since I Started Reading


I have been reading YA hardcore since 2007 but I've been into the genre since I found the Daughters of the Moon series in like 2004. That was my first huge book hangover and the wait for The Final Eclipse in the Daughters of the Moon series was real. It took two or three years for the series to be finished. 

Anyway, you're probably wondering why I'm telling you all this, my point is this; I've been reading YA a long time and today I wanted to talk about the changes that I've seen in the fifteen years that I've been reading this genre. So strap in and let's get down to it! 


Daughters of the Moon #1
So the first YA book I ever read (that I can remember), was Goddess of the Night. I loved it. Up till this point the only books I read was the ones from school. Which I mostly didn't like until The Giver. That book got me into reading. I didn't know I could feel that way about books or stories. So I went looking for other stories. 

After I read this series, I slipped into more middle grade until one day I came across The Vampire Diaries. I devoured that bind up of the first two novels and wanted more. So then I moved into Wicked Lovely and read every book that was out in that series. 

Then a friend told me about Twilight and my first thought was 'why on earth would anyone want to read about vampires that have no fangs and sparkle in the freaking sunlight?' But she loved it so much and then people at my school were getting suspended for drinking each other's blood because of this book, so that sold me. I had to read the series that had caused normal people to be so damn weird. BTW, I never drank anyone's blood, I wasn't that crazy as a teenager, I swear. 

But I did give in and read the books, even though the vampires didn't have fangs, I loved this series. I read the other three within just a few days... well almost all of them. I found I couldn't finish the last few chapters because I just couldn't say goodbye to these characters that I had fallen so deeply in love with. 

Moving on, YA in those early days was very different from how it is now. There weren't any swear words, the only drugs mentioned were in books like Crank, that showed how bad drugs were, sex was very fade to black and kissing in YA was so freaking childish that it wasn't funny. Plots were simpler in some cases and pretty much everything coming out was paranormal to jump onto the Twilight craze. 

During this time, me and even my one reader friend wanted more realistic YA books. We wanted the 'dirtier' stuff, like cursing or sex. The teens we were reading about were just too clean, too fake. Humans can't be that perfect. It's just never going to happen. 

Slowly, things began to change, not only in terms of getting more gritty characters and stories but the shift changed from paranormal to dystopian because of huge hits like The Hunger Games or Divergent. Then it seemed that was all we were getting. 

By this time, stories were getting much more real, we now had characters that had flaws and made stupid choices, there were teenagers making bad choices. I was really happy with were the genre was going and then the new trend was fantasy. Every super hyped book/series was fantasy. By this point, YA felt so very real to me, sure there was still some Mary Sues or characters that just felt so fake/bland but for the most part, we got quality characters. 


Contemporary had a tiny window where we were getting a lot of those because of books by John Green or books like Everything, Everything but it's stayed pretty low key. With The Hate U Give, that might change, but we shall see. I hope not, I'm not the biggest contemporary fan. 

YA by this point has really developed into its own, while still very trendy with the things that are released. Hopefully, we get to the point were we stop following trends and just get good quality stories of all genres (because I miss paranormal).

I just can't believe the little genre that I followed from the moment it got huge has grown so much. I feel proud to have been a part of it's growth and hope it gets better in the future.
We are still in a huge fantasy craze but I believe the next trend is already here and slowly coming to take the crown. Can you guess what it is? Let me know below, I'd love to hear your thoughts, what trend would you like to see next? Honestly, I'll forever love the paranormal craze because that's just how I roll. 

This year I'm going to be doing the Discussion Challenge. I said I was going to do it years ago and failed. I hope to do better this year. If you want to join, just click here or here to sign up. I'll be going for the level Discussion Dabbler, so if I fail, it won't be as bad....?

As always, have a great day and happy reading little butterflies! 

16 comments:

  1. People drank each other’s blood? That’s disgusting! Anyway, YA seems a lot “older” than it did when I was a kid. The topics are more serious. Or, maybe I only had access to tame books as a kid. I’m not sure.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Yeah, they were. When I heard of it I just couldn't believe it myself. Crazy stuff lol. I agree! It does seem older now or maybe we did read tamer books lol.

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  2. Excellent essay! I hope your discussion challenge goes well this time. I have given up on on-line discussions. I like IRL reading groups because the exchange of ideas is in real time and feels much more vital. I am a member of 5 of those. They feed my reading in huge ways, even when I have to read books I would not have chosen. Yesterday my Tiny Book Club (named that because there are only 3 of us) chose a poetry book for our next meeting! A first. One of us is a poet, I just started reading poetry last year, see it all flows around in such a great way!

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    1. Thank you! I hope it goes better this time too lol. I would LOVE to be a part of of a real book club, so I'm jealous that you're in five of them! I'd love to read more poetry, if you find any good ones, let me know!

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  3. It's so weird to see how far YA has come! I had never thought about it before, but you're definitely right about the fact that teens used to be really perfect in older YA books. I'm so glad they're much more realistic now!
    I'm a huge fantasy fan, so I have been loving the fantasy trend, but I wouldn't mind seeing paranormal make a come back :)

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    1. I'm glad they're more realistic too! Makes for a much better story! I'm loving what this new wave of fantasy is bringing. the early YA fantasy weren't the best in my opinion but in the last few years, we've gotten some great stuff!

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  4. I started reading YA in the 1980s, and I think the books were out there, but they may not have been as popular as others. I read Go Ask Alice, The Best Little Girl in the World, Forever by Judy Blume -- all dealt with serious topics, but I also read a lot of fluff, because I loved those books. Judy Blume, SE Hinton, Paula Danziger, VC Andrews, Lois Duncan were popular at the time, and their books were far from shying away from bigger topics. I think maybe there are some topics that get a lot more attention today, because they are more in the forefront than they were back then.

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    1. Sometimes I forget that books like Go Ask Alice and the like are YA. I think it's because YA like we know it today wasn't YA like back then. I honestly used to think Daughters of the Moon was MG because it wasn't in the adult section lol (I was a young one back then). But you're right, YA books did tickle some tough issues even then.

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  5. Great post, I love that Twilight got banned because people were drinking each others blood - school was a weird place. I like how more YA books are getting more 'real', I remember reading those Song of the Lioness books when I was eleven or twelve and there's a whole chapter in the first one when the main character gets her period. It seemed like a big deal for teen fantasy and I really appreciated that!

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    1. Yeah high was a really weird place. I'm so thankful to be out of there lol. Yes! I'm so glad that we are getting more books like that, teens need them!

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  6. "people at my school were getting suspended for drinking each other's blood because of this book" LOL amazing.

    The next trend....I'm gonna say sci-fi. Like space-themed books. I've seen a lot of those in YA recently.

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    1. It was a crazy time for sure!

      Yes! That's what I was thinking! Sci-fi is upcoming and I see so many more coming out this year.

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  7. As someone who has been reading YA for um...many more years (we'll leave it at that, lol) my favorite YAs were often on the darker side at least topic-wise - sucide attempts, runaways, abductions. I loved the Face on the Milk Carton. But yes, they were clean reads though in high school I did read one that had some explicit sex scenes. I was totally shocked. I tend more toward contemporary when reading YA, though I've read the blockbusters - Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent.

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    1. The darker topics just seem to pull more people in, so I can see why you were drawn to it. I'd have been shocked finding explicit sex in YA too!

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  8. I agree that YA has gotten edgier and edgier as the years have gone by. It's good that we have YA available that hasn't been scrubbed clean, but it seems that now there's a bit of an outcry for YA books that cater to younger teens or kids who just aren't interested in the darker stuff. It's looking like maybe there's a push to have a place for both? We'll see what happens!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  9. This is so true! I was just reading someone else's post (now I can't remember who for the life of me...) and they were asked by a someone to recommend a YA book that had minimal swearing, etc and they struggled to find an answer for them in terms of new releases. Personally, I have definitely seen a maturing of the YA genre over the past decade or so like you have and while I think the majority of that change is for the better (yay for more realistic characters and life situations!) I think there's also a problem to be addressed where there's too much NA that's being marketed as YA because people think that NA is all contemporary and overall NA isn't marketable. But anyway, before I get off on a rant about that topic, this is so spot-on! It's strange to go back to the depths of my Goodreads shelves and look at all those late 2000s and early 2010 YA books I read and how they're so different compared to the books being released now (and also, I was thinking of making a post all about the fads in YA because that is a whole big topic to be unpacked!).

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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