This past weekend, the Times Book Review published one of their semi-annual children’s book supplements, and I have to say, it made me a little sad. Typically, the reviews are either raves or at least generally positive, which makes sense considering how few books get reviewed—seems like it should be easy enough to feature the good ones. Yet running through the YA reviews, I sensed a collective disappointment, if not for the books themselves, then for the YA genre.
For one, it seems like there’s a lot of ink about trends and sub-genres like dystopian, time-travel, problem novels, etc., and how the current crop of book measure up (or don’t) to their predecessors. It also feels like the reviewers go out of their way to highlight conventions and clichés, like dead mothers and green-eyed boyfriends. Even the rave review for Mary Hooper’s Fallen Grace opens with a lament for the state of kids’ historical fiction.
Taken as a whole, it just feels like the readers aren’t particularly excited by these books, even the ones they like. Which makes me wonder if there’s some general YA exhaustion going on here—have the post-Twilight, high-concept, paranormal “big” YA books finally run out of steam and taken down everything else as well? On the one hand, I hope that’s not the case, because I think there are plenty of original stories to be told in YA, especially ones with more realistic settings. On the other, maybe some of the creativity will trickle down to middle-grade now, which (as I’ve written before) is in need of a serious reboot.
What do you think? Are you feeling any YA ennui? Do you find the latest crop of books just isn’t doing for you? Or am I just projecting negativity here (it is a pretty crappy day outside in NYC)? Please share!