First of all, keep in mind that I’m not a book expert. I am just a girl who loves to read and owns a huge number of books. Second, forecasting might be a strong word. I’m just sharing my observations.
I’m always looking for new books. I spend equal time to browse for new books as I spend on actually reading them. For years, Goodreads has helped me a lot. Allowing me to keep tracks on my books, giving recommendation, helping me make list of my to-read books, and so on. And in all those years, I can’t help but notice a shift in the book plots, especially concerning YA fantasy & dystopian genre.
Sure, authors have always been creative. I mean, to talk about Harry Potter. One read and everyone knows it is damn creative and original and it is loved by sooo many people. It also set the bar pretty damn high. Ever since, there have been thousand of books telling about different creatures, like vampires, fairy, angels-there’s like a million books about angel I barely give them a shot. On the dystopian genre, we have so many kind of world buildings, like factions, districts, the poor vs the rich, etc.
Back then, the main plot is usually about the good versus the bad. A hero or a group of heroes fight some deadly villains to save the world and BAM! They win-even if not without some deathly sacrifices-and somehow, live happily. Also, there’s almost always a love story between the hero and the heroine. Sometimes, the love story gets too complicated it overpowers the plot itself. Some other times, the love is too instant it becomes annoying.
Recently, I notice the trends have shifted. I’ll try to elaborate them in points.
It’s not about being out there to save the world anymore. It’s about saving the family, the best friends, lover, or even one’s self. While Harry Potter was busy fighting Lord Voldemort to prevent the wizarding world from collapsing, Penryn Young marched to the angels’ nest to save her sister. Penryn isn’t the only one though. Adelina Amoterou and Mare Barrow are out there to save herself from execution and Laia to save her brother. Sure, there are still a lot of books which the characters are fighting for bigger cause than their own like Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Cinder, Under the Never Sky, and many more. But even they still think about themselves, occasionally considering to choose themselves or the people they love instead of the world’s safety. I personally like this change, it’s refreshing, and it’s wayyy more realistic. The stories became more relatable to me.
Say goodbye to your good heroes and heroines, for the trends have shifted. A few years ago, all the heroes are good people. Mostly. Or at least they’re on the good side. But recently, the role has shifted. There are a lot of books with villains as the main characters. Sometimes we see their struggle to fit in the world that wishes them harm, sometimes we see them strike back and bring the whole world down with them. And it’s very… captivating. The authors provide a rich back story that makes the characters who they are so we can understand them. We don’t judge them based only on what they do, but for the reasons why they do them as well. We’re forced to look into their world, their sufferings, the pains inflicted on them by other people, their willingness to avenge and strike back, until we actually see them do so.
I think it’s very brave for authors to write an antagonist main character. They’re not afraid we’ll hate them for what they do. Instead, they make us understand–even justify–their actions. For me, it’s amazing. I’m all for character development and in the stories where the main characters are evil, we got to see so much of characters development. I’m also glad that the authors nowadays are able to dig deeper to the emotional part of the story. They show, not tell, the emotional inner conflict of the characters that draw us readers to lose ourselves completely. It is emotionally overwhelming, heart breaking, and mind blowing.
There’s also that. I’m having trouble explaining this but I’ll try.
Back then, there were somewhat a clear line between good and bad, right or wrong, allowed and forbidden. But recently, the line is getting blur and there’s no clear division any more. Authors address more diverse and controversial issues like slavery, murder, and prostitution and turn them into a beautiful read. Like I said, I personally don’t judge the characters based on their actions anymore, I looked beyond to see their reasons. Things are no longer in black and white, but relatively gray. I think it’s good for older readers (20something). As we passed through teenage, we start to see things differently. So naturally, reading that kind of story suits my taste perfectly.
Aren’t you sick of a sweet, instant, everlasting love story between the hero and the heroine? Well, I’m not 😉 I’m a sucker for cheesy love story. But, I also want something more. For me, love story is always interesting, a mandatory spice to every story, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the whole plot. It’s just ridiculous to watch a heroine went through a lot of trouble to save the world and then got distracted by her lover. It’s frustrating. I need a hero and a heroine who’s able to see the bigger picture and be rational, not stupidly driven by their attractions to each other. It’s also very mainstream.
and I’m sooo glad that authors aren’t afraid to write a different kind of love. Penryn and Raffee’s love story is cute and refreshing but they know it’s a dead end. Kestrel and Arin love each other but they keep each other away for the sake of their countries. Those kind of love stories, although tragic, gave so many more emotions to the readers. It wrecked me, ripped my heart out of its cage, and torn it to pieces. And I love it. I just do. It shows us that love isn’t always enough and not every love story is going to end well. As I said earlier, it’s more realistic and doesn’t sell us lies.
It’s not just witches and vampires and angels anymore. Authors are digging deeper and deeper in the world of fantasy and imaginations. Some went through histories and myths, some went through children stories, and some even create their own.The characters also possess every kind of powers imaginable, from the power to produce lightning to the power of illusions. An author goes a little too far and portray her character as a plant-fairy. But no, I just can’t take that.
So, what are the good books among those trends? I’ll recommend you some books that I find really, really interesting.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
This is about a girl with hidden power waiting to be unleashed. One day she was nothing, and the next day she becomes… many things. This book has it all. Actions. Rebellion. Heartwarming yet also heartbreaking love stories. Betrayal. Amazing, thrilling, although not-completely-original plot. Strong and lovable characters. A lot of character developments and inner conflicts. Major twist. Heart breaking, mind blowing, mouth gaping twist that probably will leave you with severe trust issues. and even after those betrayals, you can’t entirely blame the person. You somehow still understand why he became the way he is. And for me, I still love him. I’m Team Maven for ever and ever. Also, pretty cover. Read my review on Goodreads.
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
One word to sum up this series : heartbreaking. It’s probably not for everyone. The story revolved around two characters. Kestrel, an honorable lady, daughter to a highly respected general and his slave, Arin, once a leader to a lost nation. BUT, it is so much more than a love story. It is about love, lies, sacrifices, betrayal, trust, it’s about doing things you hate to keep your loved ones safe. And it’s just heartbreaking on so many level. There are so much emotions playing in this book and it made my heart ache. Find my review of the first book and the second book on Goodreads.
By the way, the final book comes out on March 29! I. just. can’t wait. Argh!
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
It is one of the darkest book I’ve ever read. The main character is a twisted villain who gets even darker in each book. She was an abomination. People despise her and treat her like she was nothing. Even his father treated her the same, if not more cruel. But she’s not without power. She has such a strong, destructive power waiting to be unleashed. And once it is unleashed, she will avenge everyone who betrays her and makes them pay. There are plenty of lies, murders, betrayals, hard truth, and twists. It gets darker, the second book is much darker than the first. But it is also… intriguing, to see the world through the eyes of a villain. I hate her, but I’m still dead curious of how things would progress. If you’re the type of reader who don’t see things in black and white, I recommend you read these. My reviews are here and here
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
It’s like The Goddess Test x Beauty and the Beast x Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s a modern retelling of the classic Arabian story, 1001 nights. The king is a boy who takes new bride every day only to have them murdered in the morning. One day, a girl volunteers to avenge her late best friend and things change. She learned things about him that weakened her will. And they fell in love, leaving the world with its consequences. This is a very fascinating reads for me. It’s face paced, full with secrets, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and the characters are just lovable despite their flaws. This book screams LOVE ME. And I do. and talking about moral ambiguity, this book definitely has it. My review of the first book is here.
Anybody has another recommendation? I’ll gladly consider it!