The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'd love to know how many of you are out there following this thread of Room for Debate on the Opinion Pages of the New York Times.  The question is:  "Why do bestselling young adult novels seem darker in theme now than in past years?  What's behind this dystopian trend, and why is there so much demand for it?"

The chosen debaters are Paolo Bacigalupi, Maggie Stiefvater, Jay Parini, Scott Westerfeld, Andrew Clements, Michelle Ann Abate, and Lisa Rowe Fraustino, with many others chiming in.

I rather like the tact Maggie Stiefvater takes.  I value Paolo Bacigalupi's sensibilities as a writer.  I have long struggled, especially since chairing the Young People's Literature jury for the National Book Awards in 2001, with the questions posited by Michelle Ann Abate.

What do you think?


Kelly H-Y said...

I like Maggie S.'s take on it, and had never quite viewed it that way. I tend to go the opposite direction ... I don't like 'dark', and so I'm not drawn to those for the young teens in my life, such as my nieces. I appreciate the opinions shared.

Melissa Sarno said...

Thank you for sharing this article. I found it really fascinating. I'm so interested in trends and love to try and understand them. As a teenager, I truly believed that every strange event that happened to me (and high school was full of strange events) was the absolute end of the world and I was often frustrated with authority but too much of a goody-two-shoes to challenge it. I think dystopian novels would have appealled to me at that age. I would have been shouting "Look what's going to happen us if we don't stand up now! Apocolypse I tell you!" I don't think the dystopian trend is a huge mystery. Everybody wants to take down the capitol, especially a 15 year old.

Sarah Laurence said...

I saw that article too. I didn't think it said anything new, but it was nice to see the NYT paying attention to YA. I also liked Maggie S's opinion. I'd add that dystopia for teens tends to be less gloomy than dystopia for adults. That opinion was voiced by Hunger Games editor Kate Egan in my blog interview.

Lilian Nattel said...

I went through a phase of dystopian writing in my teen years. Do you think there is something new in this, Beth?

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