In the past few years, there’s been a surge in popularity among young adult fantasy novels. There was a huge boom in paranormal romance novels with all the Twilight fanfare, spurring a multitude of vampire novels that seemed never ending. Yet now readers seem to be losing interest in vampires in wizardry, but not necessarily in fantasy—sales of post apocalyptic fiction, dystopian novels and end of the world books are booming.
While young adult fantasy novels grow increasingly popular in the publishing world, readers are growing more and more discerning with each new release. Readers aren’t just looking for supernatural elements that serve as obstacles to the romantic storyline anymore—they want to read about strong, empowered characters who they can relate to, even when the story lines have paranormal or magical elements or take place in a post apocalyptic world.
Librarians from all over the country report that the popularity of dystopian novels is continuing to rise. Books that combine fantasy with real issues and concerns that are relevant to teen’s lives are the most in demand. For example, in Twilight, even though Bella is in love with a vampire, we can relate to how she feels as a newcomer to Forks as well as her instant attraction to Edward and the impediments that stand in the way of their young love, even though they’re fantastical. Despite the fact that the obstacles are Edward’s undead attributes and doomed fate, the storyline has elements that are relevant to the lives of modern day teens, and are, therefore, compelling to the young adult audience.
While the popularity of paranormal romance novels starts to decline, the acceptance of magic and fantasy in young adult novels is here to stay. The recent popularity in zombie books and films is testament to that, as well as the continued growth in sales of end of the world books. Whether the trend is a result of the rampant 2012 prophecies and increasing hysteria about a zombie apocalypse, or the economic and political climate of the world today, the grim settings of dystopian literature clearly appeal to the young adult audience and beyond. Whether the protagonists find themselves struggling to survive or exist in a dark, depressing post apocalyptic world, they still have to cope with issues of peer pressure, sex and drugs. While young adult fantasy novels may take place in an otherworldly setting, they’re more focused on understanding real issues than escaping reality.