Trends are impossible to predict, even for people in the publishing industry. And, for the most part, I don't think the conversation about "the next big thing" should be had with much seriousness. But, it can be really fun to imagine trends; to do so involves projecting ourselves into the future and imagining what future readers will respond to. For book nerds, it doesn't get much more exciting than that.
One thing we know with certainty about the book that sparks the next trend is that it'll be innovative--something we haven't seen before, or at least not for a long time. I think YA is the genre best suited for true innovation--YA authors aren't hemmed in by genre rules the way other authors are, so it's possible to create something completely unique. I think, in the coming years as YA grows its broad and diverse readership, trends sparked first in YA will ripple out into the wider literary world. It's an exciting time to be a YA reader!
So, I've done some research and, along with reader suggestions, compiled a list of upcoming books that, based on their descriptions and early reader feedback, are doing something innovative. Could one of these spark a trend? Certainly! But, in the mean time, I'm just going to enjoy reading them :)
Time travel is a bit like dystopia in that it never really goes away, but does have big revivals every once in a while. If we can use the increasing popularity of Doctor Who in America as a barometer, perhaps it is time travel's time (so to speak). One forthcoming novel with time-travel elements is Hourglass by Myra McEntire, a book I've been hearing about for a long time, particularly since the beautiful cover was released. Another is Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, which was temendously popular in its native Germany before the American rights were sold.
Many readers suggested fairytales were on the rise. I see fairytale retellings as something that will never leave YA; there's always a market because fairytales continue to be pervasive in our culture. However, in order for a new trend to ignite, authors need to be doing something a little different with an established trend. I think the books Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab may inject some new, unique perspectives in this tried-and-true subgenre.
I wasn't quite sure how to categorize this next trend I see emerging other than to call it "Dark Magic." By this I'm referring to stories with magical elements, but not of the friendly dragon, hot vampire, or wizard buddy comedy variety. These are stories with dark elements: death, evil, curses, and dangerous ghosts. Some notables in this genre are Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey (which, excitingly, has an LGBT love story--readers have been calling for more paranormal stories with gay characters for a long time) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and Posses by Gretchen McNiel.
I think magical realism lends itself extremely well to YA, perhaps more than any other genre, partly because I think YA readers generally tend to be more willing to suspend disbelief. Luminous by Dawn Metcalf stands out as a future example of the innovative possibilities for magical realism in YA. The story of a girl who can step out of her skin and slip through different realities, the plot is nothing if not unique.
In the survey, readers picked mythology as the next big trend, and the book they referenced most to defend this was The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, which is currently making waves in the blogosphere.
Another is Wildefire by Karsten Knight, which takes on Polynesian gods and goddesses. Though the setting, an American high school, is one we've read a million times, the fantasy elements seem different from what we've seen before.
In the survey, some readers indicated they wanted a return to epic fantasy. I have to agree. There's almost nothing better than a sprawling fantasy chock full of characters and interesting settings. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is the first in an epic fantasy series. And, while it does seem to go down some well-worn roads (princesses, kings, dark magic, and political intrigue) the fact that YA has been short on epic fantasy lately, along with a glowing review by Tamora Pierce, seems enough to recommend it to fans of the genre.
It's likely very wishful thinking on my part to imagine literary fiction could become a trend. After all, though literary fiction dominates the adult fiction world, few become real blockbusters. Still, I thirst for a more literary bent to the writing in YA, and debut author Nova Ren Suma has described herself as a literary author. Her novel, Imaginary Girls, is out in June.
I have no idea whether shape-shifters will be the new vampires, but at least one future book, Shifting by Bethany Wiggins, seems to be tackling this topic in a unique way. There's also a bit of Navajo legend thrown in, which touches on another of our potential trends, mythology. As of yet, we don't have a cover, but I'd expect to hear more about this book when we do.
Maybe dystopia isn't dying as quickly as some suggest! The book Blood Red Road by Moira Young is making quite the splash for its bleak, post-apocolyptic setting and inventive characterizations. Two indications it could be big: It's the first in a series and the movie rights have already been purchased by Ridley Scott.
Did I miss any? What are some future releases you think could ignite a new trend?