In the last few years, I turned away from the YA genre. I attributed this to two things – 1) I’m now an adult and 2) the YA genre lost quite a bit of its darkness. When I was younger, the books for YA were much darker in themes and characterizations. I recall reading R. L. Stine’s Fear Street Sagas and seeing the villains win the day and the gory plot twists penned by Christopher Pike. Blood, guts, and devilish deals were par for the course. While fluffier fare has always been dominant in the YA section, the darker stories have been fewer and far between in recent times. The Hunger Games felt like a throwback to those times. But recently I decided to pick up the YA fantasy Finnikin of the Rock and its sequel Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, and I was blown away by the amazing world building and use of language she employs. She was able to deftly convey through euphemisms and minor specific instances the darkest and most brutal parts of human nature – rape, slavery, subversion, mass murder, and the near destruction of a civilization. It was nothing short of brilliant. Unfortunately, the third and final book, Quintana of Charyn, comes out in Australia next month but the American release won’t be until 2013. Oh well, I should be done working on my novel and doing my homework for three courses until then.
Now on shelves are at least two books featuring teen girl assassins, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. The former is YA fantasy and the latter is historical paranormal fiction. Also coming soon is the sequel to Cornelia Funke’s novel Reckless (which I think doesn’t belong in YA because everyone in that story is well over 18 years old, and falls into the same nebulous YA/adult borderline fantasy category that Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett often find themselves in), currently listed as Fearless on GoodReads. Reckless is Supernatural (Seasons 1 & 2) and the Brothers Grimm meets Through the Looking Glass. I haven’t had the chance to check out Cassandra Clare yet and my reading list is still a mile high. In general, I’ve noticed a greater shift toward adventurous, epic YA fantasy novels this past year. I hope this keeps up, because I’m enjoying every minute of it.
2 thoughts on “Welcome back to the Dark Side, YA Genre”
I loved Finnikin of the Rock! For all of the reasons you mentioned, too 🙂 I didn’t realize that there were more books coming out. I’m both excited and disappointed. I’m glad to read more, but I thought it was a brilliant stand-alone book, and I’m kind of tired of every single book released in YA being a trilogy.
It’s all about marketing, that’s why we have so many sequels. But honestly, Froi is an amazing follow up and in some ways better and more comprehensive than Finnikin.