Saturday, March 16, 2013

YA Trend Watch

Contrary to popular belief these are NOT the latest YA trends although maybe they should be

The other day, I noticed that a lot of female heroines had very similar names that start with K, which I thought was funny. I'm not the kind of person who's inherently for or against trends. I've read a lot of books I've loved that happen to fall into some of the trends I've noticed popping up in the YA world lately. So this list isn't meant to be a condemnation, nor is it meant to imply that authors made these choices just to hop on the badwagon. I just think it's just plain interesting how so many authors somehow make such similar decisions, even when writing vastly different genres. Obviously, I left out a lot of trends-- trends so vast, like books about mental health or angels or vampires or witches-- and limited it to more specific trends I've spotted among my recent reads.

Story Trends

Redheads Rule

Considering how few redheads there are in the population, it's amazing how many redheaded protagonists I come across in YA literature! I am a total red hair lover, though. I wish more than anything to be a natural redhead, and I'm actually thinking about dying my hair some day soon. Examples: America Singer from The Selection, Scarlet from Scarlet, Rachel from Defiance, Clary from City of Bones, Fire from Fire, Amy from Across the Universe, the twins in Delusion, Jacinda from Firelight, Alanna from Song of the Lioness, Gemma Doyle from the Gemma Doyle series, and many, many, many more.

On the Road Again


Road trips, baby!  John Green gets the appeal of a YA road trip, having written both An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns, but there's also Saving June, Reunited, How To Be Bad, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, Two-Way Street, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, You Are Here, Kiss the Morning Star, In Honor, including others.

Everything's A Competition
Well, there are people competing to stay alive in The Hunger Games, assassins competing in Throne of Glass, girls competing for a prince in The Selection teenage chefs competing on TV in Taste Test, the boys in The False Prince are fighting for a crown, and a whole lot more books are jostling for first place on your TBR list! And yes, that is the cheesiest joke I've ever made no it's not.

Rock On
So many books out there about famous and not-so-famous rock stars. Books like Audrey, Wait!, Being Friends with Boys, Where She Went, Decked with Holly, Born to Rock, Fat Kid Rules the World, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, Rock Star Superstar, Heavy Metal and You, etc.

Title Trends

It's All a Numbers Game
Revolution 19, 17 and Gone, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Mila 2.0, 34 Pieces of You, Pretty Girl-13, Level 2, Monument 14, and even 3:59. And of course there are a billion where the number is actually spelled out as well.

"The Insert Title Here's Daughter", plus other types of daughters
The Madman's Daughter, The Mad Scientists Daughter, The Courier's Daughter series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Iron Daughter, etc. SO MANY DAUGHTERS.

"Bone" "Blood" "Shadow"
 The Book of Blood and ShadowShadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)
Before I read these three books, I honestly could not keep them straight. I can't tell you how many times I called it "Daughter of Shadow and Bone". After reading at least part of all three novels, though, I know they're all completely different and I'm able to keep them straight. But these are hardly the only three YA novels with one of these three words in their titles. There's Bloodlines, Shadow Kiss, next year's The Shadow Cabinet, The Ruby in the Smoke, Blue Bloods, City of Bones, Days of Blood and Starlight, etc. Which brings me to the BIGGEST TITLE TREND IN HISTORY but not actually.


For Darkness Shows the Stars, All These Broken Stars, The Fault in Our Stars, Starglass, Across a Star-Swept Sea, Defy the Stars, Days of Blood and Starlight (a DOUBLE WHAMMY), on and on and on. There are a LOT of stars. It's any wonder we can keep these books straight!

I'm not even going to get into all the cover trends going on, since that would be a VERY long post for another day, but these are a few to look out there, and I'm sure there are others I've missed. Now I'll just be over there reading the next book on my TBR list, The 2 Bloodbones Shadow Daughters of Stars' Racing Road Trip Ultimate Playlist starring Anne Shirley and Pippi Longstocking.

Tell me-- what YA trends have you noticed lately?


  1. Weird thing is I didn't even notice the whole 'Stars' trend but now that you mention it I'm like Ohhhhhh.
    I've totally noticed the road trip trend and I love this particular trend-There's something awesome about them.All the best love stories and all those 'eureka moments'?It always happens when a bunch of people are riding down some road in the middle of nowhere!
    The redheads is a trend that I like too!
    Another trend that I've noticed is the single parent thing-Most protagonists seem to be dealing with issues like a divorce or the death of a parent.Not a bad thing,just an observation.

    Great Post,Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Oooh, yeah, definitely a lot of single parents! Good one.

  2. wow this is so funny I didn't realize how many books had similar titles and concepts !

    1. I've been noticing the "Stars" one for a while, but once I sat down to think, I noticed all the other trends. Another one is the word "Dark". It shows up in a LOT of titles as well. All those nice atmospheric words!

  3. What's interesting to me is that when I first submitted the proposal for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, in 2009, one of the reasons I titled it that was because we were in the midst of a veritable epidemic of one word titles in YA. Every book had a one word title, and as the author of a "one word titled" series who had gone through about four different options for the second book before landing on one that wasn't being used, I was determined that my next book would be a long and ornate title that would stand out from the crowd. Maybe if the book had come out in 2011, as originally planned (and Star-Swept in 2012) it would have beaten the trend. And yet, the one world title trend is still the most prevalent by far, and shows no sign of letting up. I'd say about 80% of the YAs on my shelf are one word title, and more than half of those are past tense verbs (Matched, etc.)

    I was actually joking with my editor not too long ago about a determined effort to AVOID a one word title with a recent book. It was "anything but a one word title."

    1. I was going to point out the one word title thing, but figured I'd have to list nearly every book I've read in the last two years! I personally love your long, ornate title, and have been loving the long-title trend (your book, Something Strange and Deadly,and a whole host more. I also love the "Stars" trend. It's a gorgeous word, after all!

      Thank you for your comment *quietly goes to fangirl in the corner*

    2. LOL! Thank you. I love the titles, too. My agent and I texted each other back and forth for a whole day trying to come up with Star-Swept. I think you're right, that things like "Dark" and "Star" have a moody atmospheric quality -- that's why my book has "sea" instead of say "Bay" or "Inlet." It's a little more poetic. ;-) I *did* email my friend Carrie Ryan, though, since Star-Swept was not a little inspired by "Dead-Tossed".

      One title I'm super-jealous of is Shadows Cast by Stars. I would TOTALLY use that for my series otherwise. It's so rough with the one words. I'm working on a book now that has a perfect one word title, but I don't WANNA one word title!

      I know, I know. #authorproblems. But seriously, Ascendant titling was like a month out of my life. :-(

    3. Bwahaha, I like hearing #authorproblems! I would probably throw a similar tantrum. :D And "Star-Swept" is absolutely gorgeous, and VERY atmospheric. It provides such a lovely image! I've always liked the title "Dead-Tossed" as well.

  4. Love this list! I definitely have had a hard time keeping all the blood, shadow, and bone books straight. Once I think I have it, I mix up the authors! I never even realized the stars one (maybe it was back in my brain), but that is a very true trend. Basically, I agree with every single trend you have on here. I think they do the redheads because they are more unique than brunettes or blondes? It's like having your main character have some really unique name, it makes them "stand out." As of right now, I'm not sick of redheads but who knows :)

    I love observing and realizing things so your post makes me happy!

    1. I think the same thing about redheaded heroines. It automatically sets them "apart" in their books, even though in the reading world they're commonplace! Every time I hear about a redheaded heroine (unless its integral to the plot, like in STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD), I roll my eyes a little.

  5. I think the redhead thing is part of YA's obsession with special snowflake types.
    The worst is when you come across redheads with heterochromia (blech).

    1. The ultimate special snowflake! But yes, I definitely agree with this. As I said above to Sunny, it's an automatic way to make your heroine seem unique or special, when in fact doing so makes them NOT so special.

  6. Yes! To all of this. I was just thinking about the redhead thing, myself (reading City of Bones). Why can't we brunettes be kickass??

    I'd also note unhistorically-empowered gals in historical context (Gemma Doyle trilogy, Madman's Daughter, etc). Honestly, I like empowered women, but I raise an eyebrow when they are inexplicably more educated/physically empowered/trained in 'masculine arts' than any woman of their day would be.

    1. Yes! That is something that's always somewhat bothered me too! It's a fine line with historical fiction. On the one hand, we don't really want to read about meek, doormat girls content to be subjugated by men. On the other hand, nearly every historical heroine seems somehow blessed with VERY modern notions on gender equality and whatnot. That's why historical is so tricky!

      And I think brunettes are VERY kick-ass! :D

  7. Also: I think the 'daughter' thing may have snuck over from historical fiction. Every other hist/fic book is called 'The [interesting occupation]'s Daughter' or 'The [interesting occupation]'s Wife', because, you know, ladies can't have interesting occupations in the past, that's just gauche. I don't know what those titles are doing in YA though. Maybe they heard YA was the thing to be.

  8. I wouldn't really consider the redhead thing much of a trend; when you compare the redheaded characters to the number of ones with other hair colours, there's really not that many. But I am a redhead (my hair is naturally an auburn kind of colour...and my name is Alanna o.O) and I know quite a lot of redheads too so it doesn't seem like a "special snowflake" type quality to me (but I live in Scotland, so maybe that's why I know more redheads).

    I didn't really notice the title trends until I read this post. =P

    1. Haha, I'm sure it's very different in Scotland! Per Wikipedia: "Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads; 13 percent (13%) of the population has red hair and approximately 40 percent (40%) carries the recessive redhead gene."

      By contrast, only about 2% of Americans are redheads. I still maintain it's a trend, and definitely a "special snowflake" decision, but what's more important is that you may secretly be Alanna of Trebond, and that makes me excited! Also I love Scotland and am aching to go there! :)

  9. I am so glad I'm not the only one who took forever to get straight all the blood and shadows and bones! I am still secretly afraid that I am getting it wrong whenever I recommend a book to someone. @Kirsten, good point! Ladies totes can't do anything but be attached to dudes lol. Those daughter and wife titles really need to go. Though I think it's just as often a sign of a "sequel" or "spinoff" to a classic, like Shylock's Daughter (very old, but still) and the Madman's Daughter.


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