Archive for May, 2012


Whats hot in YA Lit?

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 by mrsdillemma

Whats hot in young adult literature?

Well, 10  years ago a teenage wizard named Harry Potter was unstoppable; you couldn’t pass a bookshelf anywhere without seeing the boy wizard.

Launch days were 12 hours long, queues reached around the store, out the door and down the street and orders for the following book were placed months in advance. Thousands of spin off products were on retailers’ shelves and sold like hotcakes.

Then a couple years ago a vampire named Edward came along and pushed poor Harry aside to win over the hearts of teen lit fans across the world. The Twilight saga is still with us and we would still expect a surge in sales when the final instalment is released in November 2012.

So, What’s hot? Well, Vampires, werewolves, fallen angels and all of their brooding kin still crowd the young-adult shelves of our stores, but they’re having to make room for a new wave of dystopian fiction.

Dystopian fiction’s not new; it’s just experiencing a new wave of popularity – kicked into high gear with the Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

This is something we don’t need to tell our readers, they’ve already read each and every book in the trilogy twice, all of the associated movie tie in product has raced off the shelves just as fast.

Dystopian fiction titles are essentially hero stories, our teenage protagonist against the world, far removed from everyday reality, yet they, like their teen readers, have to deal with very recognisable everyday concerns and problems; friends, family, loss, love, and sex.

What is it that attracts teenagers to dystopian fiction?

  • “my own private dystopia”
  • Story
  • peer pressure
  • environment

There seem to be a number of opinions, but the main theory proposes that books set in either chaotic or strictly controlled societies mirror a teenager’s life; at home, at school, with their friends, online and in the wider world. Some would choose to call it Let’s call it the “my own private dystopia” theory.

There are another couple of theories, I use that term loosely, that may explain the huge surge of popularity of the “ground zero” book – the Hunger Games. 

Firstly, an astoundingly simple explanation. Teens like to read dystopian fiction because it’s fast paced and exciting, it all comes down to the story, if they can’t relate to the story in some way then it won’t succeed.

Secondly, peer pressure, if your BFF is reading the ‘hottest new thing’ then surely you want read it as well? In some cases, popularity does not reflect quality.

 Finally, environment, we live in a world filled with tragedy whether it be war, disease, or manmade and natural disasters. Dystopian literature warns us about the dangers of our current way of life, these titles detail the consequences of our political, military and  economic decisions.

According to Lisa Parkin of the Huffington Post, in 2012 the number of dystopian-themed books for teens will peak at the highest level since the 1960s.

 Some commentators are now questioning the trend, is it good for our kids? Is teen lit getting to dark? Are the current crop of YA stories darker than previous? In reality this trend is one that has existed for decades, it’s just been rehashed, reimagined and technologically advanced.

What are the upcoming trends?

So, Dystopian fiction will continue to dominate the market for a least the next 18 months but is that is only thing our teens are devouring?  

Dystopian appears to be drenching the market and the newer titles have to be something special to get noticed, the author has to bring something fresh to the table.

It’s the same with paranormal romance, hasn’t it all be done now? It may be, that the stories that will be successful (and become trendy… ) will be told in a different way, perhaps a paranormal thriller with a twist of romance?

Contemporaries are an area that will always have a strong readership and those that are stunningly well written will always stand out above the rest, One I think has huge trend setting potential is Gayle Foreman’s “Where She Went”.

Back to trends; trend theory tells us that trends in literature come in the three forms; content, format & interaction. The content is the responsibility of the authors, agents, editors, publishers and booksellers. The format is provided by the same group of people but the buying decisions, and therefore the interaction, are made by the customer;

hardback (I want it now and I don’t care how much it costs – import it if necessary!), trade paperback (I want it on release day, I need to sit and read with my friends – there is no other option), b format paperback (I’m prepared to wait, cause the others might be just a little out of my price range) or the game changer; ebook format. 

The interaction part of setting a trend is the key, it’s the one that makes the trend local, regional, national, international or global.

How teens interact with the title and with the information they have about the title is crucial to its success, they can start chatting with their global network of friends on facebook, twitter and via mobile apps,* they can blog on wordpress, and start posting pictures of book covers and movie adaptations on tumblr and pinterest, they are the ones who set the ball in motion. Once this movement begins it can be backed up by social media campaigns waged by publishing houses, book retailers and movie producers.

*YALSA’s teen book finder app has been released from itunes this month

As I made mention ebooks are the game changer they can make or break a trend, they made up 25% of all YA sales for Harper Collins  in January 2012, a 6% increase, on top of the fact that YA booksales are booming, it’s all in all a growth industry, up by over 25% between 1999 and 2005.

In retailing, and I guess publishing, one trend finds massive, market dominating success with a few key titles, it then picks up steam, publishers start buying it left and right, the market gets flooded, then quality drops, and POP! the bubble bursts. On to the next big thing….

So, what do you think it will be?




Cruel Death

In Book Reviews,E books & E readers,what i'm reading now. . . on May 7, 2012 by mrsdillemma

OK, I admit it, I have a guilty pleasure – True Crime. I know the writing is not great and the subject matter pretty brutal but once I get started I just cant put a good true crime story down. I have recently acquired a sony ereader and that gives me an opportunity to purchase true crime at a superb low price… FREE! (or at least under $5.00)

I have just finished reading “Cruel Death” by M. William Phelps, a prolifiic true crime author who appears to be very thorough in his background research and open to questions should you end up with any at the end of the book – I really wanted to have a question as an excuse to contact him!

Cruel Death is the story of a grizzly double murder committed by a husband and wife, the descriptions of the crime itself are disturbing but necessary to determine the means by which the couple are completley and utterly bat shit crazy, its a lurid and gruesome tale of madness, money, sex and murder.

The premise goes a little like this – Erika Sifrit was once a high school basketball star & an honours student, then she met  Navy SEAL Benjamin Sifrit, and married him three weeks later.

Some say Erika was abused by ‘B.J.’ Some say she pulled his strings. But by the time they reached Ocean City, Erika was packing a gun in her Coach bag and was caught in a drink, drugs, guns, burglary downward spiral.

In the resort town, a loving couple crossed paths with Erika and B.J. & shortly thereafter, Erika was wearing a bloody wedding ring on her necklace, while what remained of two dismembered holiday makers was buried in a Delaware landfill, and a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” story was being written.

The investigation portion occupies a major part of the book,  Phelps includes chapters on the backgrounds of the Sifrits (and their victims) mixed in between with the running current investigation. Each chapter would end with an exciting bit of information but not all of it, then it goes back to the investigation again – leaving the reader with an exciting “edge of the seat” feeling.

True crime titles are a guilty pleasure but Phelps writes well enough to convince me to read another and I’ve just downloaded it!