Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How have YA genre trends changed over the years?

There's something I've noticed in my relatively short four and a half years of blogging - trends in YA seem to come and go very quickly and very, very overwhelmingly.

A few years ago when I started reading YA and seriously thinking about entering the blogosphere, it was seemed like dystopia and paranormal romance were the most popular genres. Some of the most popular new books of 2013 included Allegiant, Unravel Me, Everbound, and If I Should Die.

The next year came and the dystopian novels were a little more scarce, while fantasy and retellings were gaining more traction. Then it was a couple years later and there was hardly a dystopian or paranormal romance novel to be found.

To test this theory, I decided to look at the top thirty most popular YA books of each year from 2013 through 2018, according to Goodreads. I put them all on a graph to see the change over time and, although I wasn't totally shocked at the results, it was pretty surprising to see my suspicions completely confirmed.

(Note: This isn't the most scientific graph. For books that could fit into multiple genres (fantasy and paranormal or sci-fi and dystopia, for example) I picked the one that seemed more obvious or whichever it had been shelved as most. Retellings can be fantasy, but fantasy can't be retellings. The "Other" category is mostly historical fiction. 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

You can see that the fantasy and retellings genres have steadily risen in popularity, while paranormal romance and dystopian fiction are all but gone. Science fiction has pretty much held steady while contemporary books have gotten more and more popular. It seems that although fantasy has technically fallen a couple points since its peak in 2016, it has actually stayed the same since the retellings have increased and they're primarily fantasy as well.

None of this is to say that any of these books haven't been published in any given year, but they didn't make the top thirty.

As a reader, this makes me wonder why these trends happen. Is it because we're reading more of the same in a given year? Do we as readers burn ourselves out on a certain genre and then look for something new? Is it because publishers only advertise what they think is popular? When I click on "genres" on Goodreads, I can see that there are dystopian books being published, but most of them aren't being published by the Big Five, and many of them are books I've never heard of.

I was inspired to write this post because I've recently found myself getting annoyed with extremely similar fantasy books being published all at once. The latest trend seems to be a girl with magic that are against the law or they aren't supposed to use who hides them from everyone but then has to use them and goes on the run/has to fight the system/is banished/something else inconvenient. (See: Sea Witch, Reign the Earth, Furyborn, Enchantée, etc.)

It will be interesting to see how the trend continues over the next five or six years. Will we come full circle back to dystopia and paranormal romance while retellings fade into the background? Or are those genres dated and gone forever?

Personally, I miss dystopian books like crazy! They were my introduction to YA and I was beside myself with excitement when I got my hands on Dry this year! What genres do you miss and hope to see again?