When I was a teen, like many teens today, I loved supernatural young adult fiction. The witches, vampires, werewolves and other creatures absolutely thrilled me. They still do. Unlike today’s teens, however, I didn’t have such fiction readily available. With the exception of a few classical favorites—like Lord of the Rings and A Wrinkle in Time—and a couple of contemporary amazing authors—like Christopher Pike and LJ Smith—there was a paucity of YA supernatural lit. YA lit was still good, but it wasn’t as wide-spread as read as it is today, and it sure as hell wasn’t the market it is today.
Today, you can find YA supernatural lit on every bookshelf. It dominates the teen sections of our libraries and I love it. The moment I’m done with a series, it’s time for another. I know I could switch to adult fantasy—and I do read those sometimes, especially since you can get more violent and more sexual in adult fantasy—but oftentimes the adult books are more boring than the YA ones. You’ll find a slower pace—not always a bad thing, of course—as well as pages and pages of descriptions about brocade gowns or swords or tapestries. Yeah, not what I’m looking for.
I’m looking for adventure! I want to be hooked, scared, surprised. Romance is good, but not necessary; I want a hero who has flaws but still kicks ass, and if she’s a female all the better. I want characters who are consistent but still grow, and if you can make me laugh, all the better, as well. YA authors must do this because despite popular belief, I think teens are the most challenging audience. Sure, sometimes they love crap, as many popular novels demonstrate, but they are also the hardest to hook, to please. If a teen doesn’t love your book, it’s going to be put down.
I’m not sure what caused this surge of fascination with the supernatural and the otherworldly; I think it’s always been there on the fringe, but not this insanely popular. Still, even if it’s because of said abysmal series, I’d like to issue a thanks because without it, I wouldn’t have so much to choose from. My shelf from the library is constantly full these days and I know I’ll never be able to read all of the books out there that I want to, which makes it that more thrilling to seek and find the best of the best.