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Top 10 Trends in Teen Fiction 2011

Every year you notice them, the trends in teen fiction.  After the wild success of Harry Potter there were a ton of new Fantasy novels being written for teens.  For the last couple of years vampire fiction was without a doubt super hot, due in part to the success of the Twilight saga.  Then all of the sudden there were zombies everywhere.  And thanks to the success of Hunger Games, we can’t get enough Dystopian fiction.  I have minded none of these trends to be honest.  So, what is going on this year in teen fiction?  After throwing out a survey on the TLT FB page and the Yalsa-bk list serve, here is what we have come up with . . .

You can download the poster at http://www.box.net/shared/ksdm16quocvfela9fz2e

1.  Evil Geniuses
The evil genius trend probably began quite a few years ago with the success of the Artemis Fowl books.  And with Heist Society being turned into a film (with the help of Drew Barrymore), it is likely to continue to be popular.  Plus, they are a lot of fun.  Suggested titles in this category include Heist Society by Ally Carter and the H.I.V.E. series.  Other recommended titles include The Squad by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty, and the Hero.com/Villian.net series by Andy Briggs.  For younger audiences you can’t pass up The Mysterious Benedict Society.  And for just plain fun be sure to check out Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog, not a book and not necessarily for younger teens – but too awesome not to be included!

2.  Paranormal Romance
There is no escaping the popularity of paranormal romance.  If you walk into a bookstore they have entire sections of teen fiction now individually labelled paranormal romance.  Amazon.com even has a separate page for paranormal romance for teens.  Vampires, werewolves, faeries, half demons and more . . . they are all represented.  There are way to many to even begin listing them all, but my favorite has to be The Wolves of Mercy Fall series by Maggie Steifvater.  For faeries be sure to check out the Darkest Mercies series by Melissa Marr.  And for vampire readers try Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber (also available as a gn series), Richelle Mead or the Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.  For Buffy fans you will definitely want to check out The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, also soon coming to a theater for you.

3. Twins
The Lying Game by Sara Sheppard is now a series on ABC Family.  At the same time Sarah Michelle Gellar has returned to the CW in a series entitled Ringer.  Both are about twins.  There are also a lot of titles featuring twins in teen fiction.  My current favorite twin title is Bruiser by Neal Shusterman.  Bruiser is the story of, well, Bruiser – a boy who can literally take the pain of others, but at what cost to him?  The twins come in the form of Tennyson and his twin sister Bronte.  When Tennyson learns that Bronte is dating Brewster (aka Bruiser), they both learn a lot about themselves and the power of pain.  This is such an amazing story and I highly recommend it.  Other twin books recommended include Pretty Bad Things by C. J. Skuse, Kindred by Tammar Stein, This Dark Endeavor by kenneth Oppel, Envy by Gregg Olsen and Night School by Mari Mancusi.  Not enough twin titles?  Also try Chime by Franny Billingsley, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, Wither by Lauren DeStefano and Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

4.  Steam Punk
There is no denying the current popularity of steam punk.  Steam punk usually takes place in Victorian times and involves steam powered machinery.  The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld is perhaps one of the most popular steam punk series for teens out there at the moment.  And everyone at yalsa seems to recommend listening to the audio.  In addition to the Leviathan series, you’ll want to make sure your teens check out The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

5.  Multicultural, especially Japanese inspired
Graphic Novels and Manga have been popular for quite a while now.  Bookstores now have HUGE areas devoted to the genre.  Often times they have more gns/manga then they do teen fiction to be honest.  Of course this genre spans all age levels.  The influence of Japan can now been seen in teen fiction, too.  In fact, a lot of martial arts seems to be seeping into the pages of teen fiction, which should greatly appeal to boys.  Martial arts makes an appearance in the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford.  They also played a role in the Nine Lives of Chloe King which had a brief run as a series on ABC Family (it has been cancelled sadly).  Martial arts also plays a key role in the new Dark Territory series by J. Gabriel Gates (I recently reviewed this for VOYA).

6.  Mermaids and Sirens
Last year it seemed like everything was about fallen angels (see Lauren Kate and Becca Fitzgerald series), this year it seems like fins have replaced wings with a huge crop of mermaid tales coming out.  Recommended titles include Mermaid’s Mirror by L. K. Madigan, Forbidden Sea by Sheila Neilson and Forgive My fins by Tera Lynn Childs.  One of the character’s in Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is a mermaid.  Mermaids also appear in the Lost Voices trilogy by Sarah Porter.

7.  Boarding Schools
One of the trends mentioned involves location, location, location.  In this particular instance: boarding school.  It seems like the best way to get rid of parents in teen fiction these days it to send a teen off to boarding school.  Titles recommended include Anna and the French Kiss, Viola in Reel Life, the Mockingbirds and Variant.  Variant is the first in a new series and I highly recommend it.  I recently reviewed it – highly recommended – for VOYA.  I can not wait to read what happens next.

8.  Dystopian
Filming for the Hunger Games movie recently wrapped up and the movie is set to open across the US in March of 2012.  Make no mistake, the popularity of this series has opened a floodgate of Dystopian fiction.  Dystopian fiction is typically set in a post-apocalyptic world which is bleak and individuals have little control over their lives as their is strong government control.  School Library Journal has run some recent dystopian lists for your convenience.  One type of dystopian tale involves environmental issues – the world ended by climate or environmental disasters.  You can catch SLJ’s list here.  They also have a really good list of all dystopia here.  I love love loved the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and can’t wait for the movie.  I am currently listening to Delirium by Lauren Oliver on audio-cd and am enjoying it, also.  You can throw some classics into the mix and make sure your teens get their hands on 1984 by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

9.  Mythology and Fairy Tales
Probably due in part to the popularity of the Percy Jackson series, there is a resurgence of mythology and fairy tales popping up in teen fiction.  This is also true for TV and moves, Twilight’s Kristen Stewart will be appearing in a new version of Snow White on film while another version of Snow White will soon be coming to your local tv station.  Titles recommended in this category include the works of Rick Riordan, Abandon by Meg Cabot (a retelling of Hades and Persephone) and Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, also ironically twins).

10.  Zombies
The dead are rising everywhere – and that is true in teen fiction as well.  Last year The Walking Dead took off on TV, an adaptation of a highly popular long running graphic novel series.  Suddenly it seemed that zombies were everywhere, including in your favorite classic works of literature (see Pride, Prejudice and Zombies).  One yalsa contributor threw out a classic Buffy reference, earning major bonus points, and said that this year zombies were the new “big bad.”  Totally true.  The Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry is quite frankly, hands down, my favorite.  But I am enjoying them all.  For a look at zombie books see this poster.  Be sure also to check out the Charles Higgens series.  And although World War Z is technically an adult book, teens will enjoy this look back at the zombie wars that destroyed our nation (coming soon to a movie theater near you starring Brad Pitt).

And a couple of trends that didn’t quite make the cut . . .
One trend mentioned that didn’t make the poster was the length of teen books today.  Without a doubt they are lllloooonnnnnggggg and tend to be in trilogies; but that didn’t seem like a strong selling point LOL (although definitely true).  Some other trends that got votes include girls that kick butt (seriously, check out the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter) and books in multiple voices, which occurs in a great deal of teen fiction today.

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