Trends in YA paranormal fiction

While procrastinating the other day, I found myself browsing the recommendations that Amazon makes, following a chain of YA paranormal fiction. Three hours later, I recovered from my obsessive frenzy to find £260 worth of books in my basket. The thought of such a huge parcel arriving terrified me, so I’ve backed off from buying them (for a while).

I did find it very interesting, though, to observe the various trends in play; not all could be called ‘paranormal romance’ (some lack the romance theme). I noticed variants on the now-familiar dystopia, and hard space opera SF as well as fantasy. More than one mermaid swam into view as another kind of creature in these novels. There were quite a few arcane libraries, which appeals to me strongly. And the idea of a parallel city–often London–recurs, with a fantastic mirror image of the real city manifesting itself.

I would like some day to apply Franco Moretti’s strategy of ‘Distant Reading’ to this vast corpus of novels and see what sort of patterns emerge over a period of time. Moretti does such things as analyse the titles of all novels printed in English in the nineteenth century to see how the changes in titling reveal patterns in literature.

In the meantime, you may be interested in looking at the YA paranormal fictions I found particularly fascinating; here’s a list:

Bodard, Aliette de, The House of Shattered Wings (London: Gollancz, 2015)

Cogman, Genevieve, The Invisible Library, The Invisible Library, 1 (London: Pan, 2015)

Gray, Claudia, A Thousand Pieces of You, Firebird, 1 (New York: HarperCollins, 2015)

Grey, Melissa, The Girl at Midnight (London: Atom, 2015)

Griffin, Kate, A Madness Of Angels, Matthew Swift Novels, 1 (London: Orbit, 2009)

Hawkins, Scott, The Library at Mount Char (New York: Crown Publishing Group, Division of Random House Inc, 2015)

Headley, Maria Dahvana, Magonia (HarperCollins, 2015)

Hodkin, Michelle, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Mara Dyer, 1 (London: Simon & Schuster Children’s, 2012)

Hoffman, Alice, The Museum of Extraordinary Things (London: Simon & Schuster, 2015)

Johnston, E. K., A Thousand Nights (S.l.: Disney-Hyperion, 2016)

Kalicicki, Missy, and Abi Ketner, Branded, Sinners, 1 (Month9Books, LLC, 2014)

Kaufman, Amie, These Broken Stars (Hyperion, 2014)

Kristoff, Jay, and Amie Kaufman, Illuminae, The Illuminae Files:, 1 (Oneworld Publications, 2015)

Krys, Michelle, Hexed (Corgi Childrens, 2014)

Landers, Melissa, Alienated (Hyperion Books, 2015)

Lu, Marie, The Young Elites (Penguin, 2015)

Mafi, Tehereh, Shatter Me, Shatter Me, 1 (Us Imports, 2012)

Noble, Carrie Anne, The Mermaid’s Sister (New York: Skyscape, 2015)

Paul, Cornell, Witches of Lytchford (Tor.com, 2015)

Pollock, Tom, The City’s Son, Skyscraper Throne, 1 (Jo Fletcher Books, 2013)

Schwab, Victoria, A Darker Shade of Magic, A Darker Shade of Magic, 1 (Titan Books, 2015)

———, The Archived (New York: Hyperion, 2015)

Tahir, Sabaa, An Ember in the Ashes, An Ember in the Ashes, 1 (London: Harper Voyager, 2015)

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7 Responses to Trends in YA paranormal fiction

  1. firekrank says:

    Oh Bill, you temptress! Now I shall get nothing done! All of those look so tempting – and some of the reviews on Goodreads are excellent.

    • William the Bloody says:

      Some of them look fabulous, don’t they? I keep telling myself to get back to the eighteenth-century novel but paranormality keeps seducing me. I’ve put most of them back but just about to get four.

  2. Lucy Northenra says:

    This is fascinating. Did you find any savage children or wolf children ones? I have a weakness for sympathetic witches and dark angel fiction. It is good for the Gen Dead students to think about these categories and trends and why they appear. Thanks for posting this tempting list. You should start reviewing them on the blog that way you can get publisher’s copies and prevent bankruptcy!

    • William the Bloody says:

      No wild/wolf children, though I think sympathetic witches and angels may appear. Reviewing is such a good idea!–but I think I’m finding them some time after they’ve come out; I’ll have to find a way of being alerted to new releases in the genre.

      I’m thinking at some point of building up a database of paranormal fiction in a way that shows the trends and sub(sub?)genres more clearly–like what kind of creatures are involved, what plot motifs, what other genres interact, what modes of fantasy and realism are employed, and so on. It’ll take time, though.

  3. Daryl Wor says:

    Ha ha ha! I loved the big basket pile up of books. I have so been there. Gosh, you chaps are excellent. I don’t look at all the posts but I love this blog/community. You all really know your “onions” It’s splendid! A breath of fresh (cemetery) air. ^_^

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