|YA Epidemics is an original feature in which I |
numerous trends and cliches plaguing the YA genre. The Epidemics are posted most Saturdays.
Comments and discussions are encouraged!
This week, I'm discussing something I've been thinking about for awhile now. It might not read like a typical YA Epidemics post, and you may disagree with it, but I really wanted to work this subject into a post.
Harry Potter brought us schools for magicians. Twilight brought us romantic vampires. The Hunger Games taught the world what the word dystopia means, and Hush, Hush and Fallen proved that even an idea as kickass and cool as a fallen angel could be made cheesy and unoriginal. These are all powerhouse YA books. They all opened the door for their respective genre...and a whole lot of crap walked through it.
I love books. My room is overflowing with them, hundreds of them, lining shelves, stacked in boxes, on tables, even in empty drawers. Sometimes I get so caught up in my obsessive adoration that I forget that the publishing industry is, like all other industries, a business. That at the end of the day, their prime objective is to make money, and to make as much of it as possible. Quality isn't nearly as important as sales figures, and in this age of instant gratifaction, what sells is what's been successfully done before. Which is why it (usually) takes an amazing book to start a trend, but a dozen mediocre ones can fuel it.
Is there anyone who can argue that the quality of YA fantasy has gone down since Harry Potter? That what was original and fun in Twilight is now eye-rollingly annoying? Few dystopian settings have captured the chilling realism and brutality of The Hunger Games, and fallen angels are largely considered the laughing stocks of YA mythological creatures. Trends are being discovered and monetized on at an alarmingly increasing rate.
What does this mean for the future of YA? I won't name titles or point fingers, but is there a single one of you who hasn't read a book that you just know was published to cater to a trend or two? (Or five?) I know I have. From forgettable to hair-pullingly bad, these books have topped bestseller lists and sent GoodReads and bloggers into a frenzy of 5-star ratings and gushing reviews. Is it just a case of one-woman's-five-star-is-another-woman's-one? Or the beginning of a spiraling descent into bestseller bandwagons, trading substance for sell-outs, chemistry for cliches?
Let's face it; quality has gone down as sales have gone up. With the publishing crisis, publishers have figured out how to print what hooks and sells, for better or for worse. This is an Epidemic that isn't going away any time soon, but there will always be quality amid the quantity. There will always be authors who never disappoint (Laini Taylor), debuts that shine (Everneath), and writers who know stepping outside of the box can still be the right way to go (R. J. Anderson with Ultraviolet).
In the meantime, it's important for us bloggers and reviewers to always be honest. To not skip the negative review and only write about the positive. It's important to be that trusted reviewer that others turn to, because believe it or not, we really do have the power to shape the way books sell and to impact the future of publishing.
What are your thoughts? Have you noticed an increase in mediocre Bestseller Bandwagons? Is this problem getting better through bloggers and reviewers, or worse? How do you think the crisis publishers are facing impacts what they choose to publish?
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