Young Adult Literature: now with added vampire

I went into a local bookshop in Ballarat today, looking for a book by Lili Wilkinson. Her book, Scatterheart, is a great example of historical fiction writing for young adults, and I am planning to write about it for our Sovereign Hill Education blog. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve browsed the young adult section of a bookshop, but instead of seeing a whole lot of my favourite authors and stories (as good or better as ‘regular’ adult varieties), I found this:

Young Adult books on offer...

Take a moment to glance at some of the titles: Bloodlines, Vampireville, Kissing Coffins, Drink Slay Love, Vampire Beach: Bloodlust, Love Bites, Blood Promise….

I actually walked past those two shelves at first, thinking they were devoted entirely to the Twilight Saga. But after a while I realised they were the only two shelves in the shop to have ‘Young Adult’ written above them – I had actually been looking in the much more appealing ‘Younger Readers’ section.

Once I realised that I wasn’t seeing cover variations of the same book, I was astonished at what I was looking at. I seriously had trouble finding a book that wasn’t about vampires, ghosts or angels. Not only that, they all seemed to be teen romance stories. I don’t mind vampires in stories, and I have read the Twilight Saga with some enjoyment – NB: I am not trying to open a discussion on the literary merits or moral content of Stephanie Meyer’s writing, I just want to acknowledge that books don’t have to receive literary acclaim to be enjoyable.

What I was shocked by was the lack of variety. Sure there are a number teen readers who have book type or author obsessions, I will admit to spending many a late night in early high school engrossed in a Saddle Club or two. But surely not ALL teen readers are obsessively interested in vampires and the supernatural? My husband even asked if it was a young adult section for girls only.

What I wonder is: are all Young Adult shelves in bookshops looking like this? Is this all that sells?

I have been, one of those 10 year in-the-wing projects, writing a couple of young adult novels (which, I might add don’t have any vampires in them, or angels) so I am interested if this is really highlighting a trend, or there is just influx of post-Twilight-jumping-on-the-bandwagon books?

Young Adult literature, I believe, has produced some of the best books around. Witty, fun, informative and brilliant pure-escapism. Thankfully there are great organisations like the Centre for Youth Literature and their website Inside a Dog, who support and encourage a range of readers and writers of YA Lit. I just hope that the bookshops are still buying the books of the other (non-vampire) YA authors and YA readers are still discovering the variety of fantastic books available for them.

9 thoughts on “Young Adult Literature: now with added vampire

  1. Steph, I too have noticed this trend increasing over the last 18 months. I feel it is a fad- much the same as in the mid-late 80s when YA literature was dominated by “Point” horror books. I do find your particular bookstore surprising- was there ANY books on display for YA that weren’t of this theme? Perhaps, with the current struggles that bookstores are having competing with online distributors, they are choosing to only stock those books that they know, going by their stock takes, will move of the shelf.
    I do think it is somewhat dismaying that it takes that element of whimsical browsing away from the consumer who may wish to look across a range of themes and genres as they like variety.

    • Thanks Taryn. That photo is genuinely the entire YA section of the bookshop! I do hope it is a fad as you suggest. Lucky there are some great Librarians and English teachers out there that continue to introduce kids to a wider selection of good reads πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Stephanie, I guess one of the benefits of the internet is that readers aren’t resticted by their local bookshop anymore. I found during preparation for the Ballarat Writers & Illustrators fest last year that many YA writers have websites/blogs to accompany their work. I found a whole range of Aus authors that I had never heard of, and probably wouldn’t if I relied on the local bookstores. Having said that, Ballarat Books has a great range. Great post, I enjoyed reading it. ty

    • Thanks Melissa. Yes we are lucky there are so many great ways of finding a range of books online.
      I do still love bookshop browsing though and I think it would be a shame if bookshops didn’t provide an eclectic sample to browse through. Of course there are many great bookshops that still have that. I find myself going into secondhand bookshops more and more because of the opportunities for great surprise discoveries!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s