Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2000-2010: The Decade of YA

Amazon.com Omnivoracious blogger Heidi Broadhead has nicknamed the past ten years "The YA decade." And I've gotta say, I'd agree.

Broadhead writes:

No other genre (except maybe graphic novels) has grown and changed as much during the last decade as young adult fiction. Inspired by Harry Potter (and probably a little bit by Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl), a whole generation of voracious readers emerged, and a whole new group of writers came up with stories to keep them reading well into their teens.

Over the past few years, we've seen a lot of YA controversies: Is the drinking in this book appropriate for young adult readers? What's the deal with these adult readers of YA? Should Rebecca wear the red dress or the blue dress to the prom? Should she go with the dark faerie or the newly-made-vampire geek boy?

Read the rest of her post HERE

YA has just gotten more and more controversial over the years, with darker themes and edgier characters fighting their way to the surface. Broadhead goes on to spotlight eight authors who have helped to shape the genre in the past decade.

Laurie Halse Anderson and Scott Westerfeld are my personal favorites from this particular list. Broadhead describes Anderson as "writing about the things you're not supposed to talk about; enduring a book ban now and again with grace; general awesomeness," and Westerfeld as "supernatural teen romance crossover; author as celebrity; book-writing mommy; person who dreams about something and writes it down and it becomes a best-selling series."

Both of these descriptions are pretty spot on (minus the "book-writing mommy" which I don't quite get to be honest), and they'd absolutely be on my list of the most influential authors of the past decade. Some of her others would be on my list as well (Stephanie Meyer, anyone?). I'd also toss on my list Elizabeth Scott for Living Dead Girl and Stephen Chbosky for Perks of Being a Wallflower (technically 1999 but close enough) to name a couple.

But one of Broadhead's choices is surprising to me: Meg Cabot, most famous for her book turned movie The Princess Diaries. Broadhead describes Cabot as "cheeky girl humor; writing one of the first super-series; constantly encouraging aspiring writers." While that description is mostly accurate, I don't see Cabot as doing anything particularly exciting or inventive. She's basically chick-lit for teens and I don't think I'd call her books a "super-series," let alone the first one.

But oh well. Different strokes for different folks.

Also, check out this interesting article by Mark Haverstock on what makes YA so controversial and why it's changed so drastically, originally a magazine article published in the June 2004 issue of Children's Writer/Newsletter of Writing and Publishing Trends.

Who would be on YOUR list of the most influential YA authors in the past decade?

1 comment:

  1. As a young adult reader myself, I would say that Lois Lowry belongs on that list without a doubt! Another YA author that I was stunned not to see is Sarah Dessen(who is mentioned at the end), whose novels, while definitely girly, are, I feel, far superior to and more influential than The Princess Diaries series. I was, however, pleased to see Scott Westerfeld on the list.