Friday, 20 July 2012

Discussion Post: Are You Over Paranormal YA?

I've always been a huge fan of the paranormal, ever since I can remember. Vampires mainly, but I also like werewolves, ghosts, angels, everything really. I like it in TV most, but I'll take books and films too. Recently I've found myself becoming bored with paranormal when it comes to YA books, and I wondered if it's just me. There's a chance I've just read too much of it but I've noticed a steady decline in paranormal titles read over the last year and a half, so maybe not.

Twilight really started me off reading more YA and exploring all kinds of genres within that age range. I love that series with a passion (yes, even now) though I'll refrain from mentioning Breaking Dawn as I don't think it's worthy of being classed as part of the series. These days, dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels are huge, and fantasy (especially dragons) seems to be making its mark on unsuspecting YA readers. So where does that leave paranormal? There are still plenty of titles being published - some part of a series like Becca Fitzpatrick's Finale, the last part of the Hush, Hush sequence - others are standalones (very rarely, it seems). But are readers still clamouring for more?

The only paranormal novel I've bought recently is Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins. I like the cover and the sound of the plot, so I thought I'd give it a go on my Kindle. Whether it's good or not, I don't know, but reviews so far are positive. I think one of my main problems is that I read quite a few novels in this genre that didn't hold my interest and seemed to be too similar to other books. Weeding out the good from the bad can be a difficult task, which is why I rely so heavily on Amazon, Goodreads and fellow blogger's reviews.

A fairly recent book I enjoyed along these lines is Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. It's about zombies so falls into my supernatural criteria, but it's also horror with a bit of post-apoc chucked in there for good measure. It kept me on my toes, the characters are brilliant and it somewhat restored my faith in the genre. Others I'm looking forward to reading are The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda (vampires), Unrest by Michelle Harrison (ghosts), Deadly Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (werewolves) and Zom-B by Darren Shan. All of these books just happen to be published by Simon & Schuster in the UK who are, in my opinion, still the best for paranormal and supernatural YA reads. I'm hoping I enjoy all of these and that they might inspire me to get back to reading more of this genre I usually enjoy so much.

What I want to know is are you past paranormal? Have you found genres you enjoy more, or do you just think it's been done to death? I know YA crazes come and go (I'm listening to the Game of Thrones soundtrack as I type this which should give you some indication of my current genre preference), but I thought this one would have lasted longer. Instead The Hunger Games blew Twilight out of the water, kick-ass female warriors are the new vampires and mermaids seem to be all but forgotten. Have people had enough thanks to the success of franchises like The Twilight Saga, has the helpless female heroine been overdone or are there just bigger and better ideas out there? I'm interested to find out.


Hermine said...

I've also always been a lover of the paranormal and in particular Vampires - ever since I read Dracula.

But I must admit I'm getting sick of YA paranormal now. I recently read the latest in the Lauren Kate Fallen series and found myself unable to finish it because I'd simply lost interest in the characters and the scenarios. I felt the same way about the latest Mortal Instruments book and I'm not counting down the days to the next House of Night as I was a few years ago.

Maybe a lot of us just need to have a break and come back to it. Or maybe we need to find the next big genre to hit YA.

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

I still love paranormal (it was my first YA love) but I admit I've been branching out with my reading lately. I'm reading a lot more contemp nowadays, but books with the swoony love interest and supernatural elements still hold a special place it my heart. That said, there is a lot of BAD paranormal out there - stuff that just follows a tried and tested formula and I'm bored with that.

The thing about me is that I haven't really gotten into any of the latest or emerging trends in YA. I hate zombie fic, can take or leave dystopian and fantasy is just not my thing, so for me, Paranormal still constitutes a major part of my reading.

CarlyB said...

So. Over. Paranormal. Although I was never massively into it in the first place so I might not count. I just find almost every paranormal romance so formulaic and the romances generally make me want to throw things. That said, I love anything by Alyxandra Harvey and the Unearthly books by Cynthia Hand are fab. I tend to count things like The Hunt (which is awesome) and the Darren Shan books just as horror, which is my fave genre along with contemporary.
So, yes, that's my very long winded way of saying I'm definitely over paranormal :) x

Jana said...

I still love Paranormal YA. Gotta admit that even though I really enjoy fantasy, contemp, dystopian, sci-fi, Paranormal still remains my favourite :).

prophecygirl said...

Carly - I've always thought of paranormal and horror as one in the same when it comes to my YA books. Just easier for me to categorise. ;)

And I totally agree about formulaic romances. GAH. Had enough of those!

prophecygirl said...

Hermine - I haven't finished the Fallen series either. I just can't find any enthusiasm to pick it up. :/

Leanna - it's my first YA love too!

proseandkahn said...

The problem for me with the latest literary It-genres is that the good stories get lost in the mad rush by publishers to cash in on the craze. While I'm all for building up my "Read Alike" collection, I want it filled with books that will be read by my students.

I am with Carly in that I was never a real fan. I enjoy it, but as a school librarian, even if I were gaga over the genre, I have to read widely if I want to be effective in reader's advisory. I also found the basic formula to be rather gag-inducing as I am so sick of the disingenuous heroine, "Me? Beautiful?" "Oh, he hates me because he stares at me so smolderingly." Give me an intelligent, independent kick-ass heroine and vivid worldbuilding.

I've been finding myself disinclined to listening to buzz. I think I need to weed my blog feeder, or go back to reading just the big six journals. It seems that reviews of the hyped books all begin to sound the same, gushy. I find myself skimming and deleting more and more, always hoping for a unique review. I am tired of investing time in the latest hyped book only to be disappointed. In fact, I've developed such a knee-jerk response to hype that I've missed a couple of winners, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, for example.


Ivana said...

I also took a turn from paranormal to dystopia and (recently)contemporary. Twilight got me into the genre, but with a few exceptions, seems like the genre is stuck at that very point. Too many paranormal romances are Twilight deja vu-s and I feel to old for that. But many readers don't mind, so it's probably a thing of tastes and preferences.

Happy reading :)

Rochelle said...

YA Paranormal has become a literary wasteland for me. I've become very picky about which ones I'll read now and sadly even books from other trendy genres like dystopian, which I used to love. Too many authors and publishing companies are trying to make money on what's popular at the moment. I'm not saying that there aren't some really fantastic paranormal, fantasy and dystopian books still out there but it's exhausting trying to find them.

AE Rought said...

As this is a discussion post, please permit me to ramble:
I'm with Leanna here. I still love my YA paranormal, but I've become uber picky and feel like I'm floundering in a sea of sameness. Wave after wave of similar themed vampire, werewolf, faery, mermaid... Blergh. I've stopped with THON, I struggled through Breaking Dawn, don't like faery and am not fond of fallen angels. I find it hard to get interested in another vampire, or werewolf book unless there's a serious twist to them.
It makes it hard for me because I love paranormal for that sense of something 'other', and find I really crave it when reading. Dytopisns like Beth Revis's and Veronica Roth's give the feel of 'other' or me. I haven't found any contemp to hold my interest.
So, in summation, I don't think I will ever be over YA paranormal, but I am way, way over the same old, same old in YA paranormal.

thenocturnalreader said...

Gosh, I'm glad others are over it too. With the amount of new Paranormal titles gracing the shelves I really thought I was on my lonesome.

I think ProseandKahn and Carly knocked it on the head really. So many of the books are copy-cat and that just leads to boring reading. I have to say the covers don't help either; I just can't be dealing with any more willowy girls in ball gowns or brooding boys staring into the distance.

To be honest I'm getting to a similar stage with Dystopia too, so I guess it just shows every genre has it's highs and lows...

Donna @ Bites said...

I generally avoid paranormal because more often than not it's coupled with romance and PNR just isn't my thing. When I was younger I read horror. Maybe there was something in one of those books that could be considered romance but it was so tiny next to the overall plot that it barely registered. Now horror, for the most part, has been replaced with PNR and people are starting to equate vampires with PNR as opposed to horror. This makes me cranky. I want vampires in my books. They can even be sexy. But dammit it needs to stay horror. Enough with these brooding dicks.

Taschima Cullen said...

I've recently been reading a lot of contemporary. CONTEMPORARY (and my blog is mainly for paranormal YA reads). SOmetimes you just need a break from the repeated plot lines and not so good stories that you have to weed out from the good ones.

I have to say though, Sweet Evil? 5 star all the way. It is so good. One of my favorite reads this year for sure.

Cat @ Beyond Books said...

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal adult novels all sort of smooshed together for me for a while and then when the genre became more popular with the YA crowd, at first I thought it was pretty decent because it wasn't quite the same repetition of the adult books. There wasn't any hard core, graphic sex and I thought the stories were pretty interesting.

Then YA paranormal just smooshed together for me. With the success of Twilight, publishers seemed desperate to push out as many similar stories as possible, thereby causing a very saturated market with little originality. All the paranormal books are just so, bloody, identical to me. Like with the adult UF/P, there can be diamonds in the rough, but you sometimes have to wade through a ton of crap before you find them.

I will admit, I stopped being excited for the Next Big Thing in Paranormal YA a long time ago. I liked to read the more dystopian stories (though now THAT is becoming a saturated market, too. Ugh.)

For both adult and YA books in this genre, I now stick with authors I know I will love no matter what. I don't always stick with an author's attempt at moving from one (adult) to the other (YA). I love Kim Harrison's adult series (Rachel Morgan series) but I didn't love her YA one. Same with Kelley Armstrong. There are a few authors in YA whose writing and originality shone forth in their paranormal books (Kiersten White / Rachel Hawkins) so I have followed their series religiously. Others, I gave up on book one.

I, personally, am happy that fantasy is starting to creep up the ranks (for now). It's always been my first love in books and there isn't nearly enough in YA. BUT if they start making the fantasy novels all about the insta-love and love triangles like they do with all of the other YA out there... I will quickly give up. So far the few fantasy YA books I have read have been quite good, so maybe this won't be an area of YA that publishers and authors will try to "Twilight". (I know you know what I mean and this isn't a dig at you and Twlight, hee! Because I know you know where I stand on that series, lovely!)

Did I discuss enough? Woah. Ramble-madness!!

Lynsey Newton said...

For me, it doesn't matter what genre a book belongs to - a good story is a good story. Period. So, I may be going against the grain here but the answer is no :)

lizclong said...

My problem is finding UNIQUE paranormal and fantasy reads. Sometimes you just get tired of vampires, witches, and werewolves, ya know? And I swear this isn't a promo, but thinking that way helped me write a story with a crazy storyline that didn't fit in mainstream-book-land, so maybe sometimes the oversaturation of a genre will help authors write what they REALLY want to write instead of try to write like everyone else. We can hope, anyway, cause we all want fresh new books to read :)

Lizzy said...

I think that there are particular portions of paranormal YA that I avoid now (vampires/werewolves). It just feels like nothing unique has come out recently. Usually there's a love triangle, there is drama, etc. As for the ghosts/zombies/supernatural abilities...I still enjoy those!

Lately it seems like the major focus in YA has shifted to dystopian. I don't mind, I'm all about that haha.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I think I am pretty much over paranormal YA, but there are still authors and series' that I won't leave behind.

And I have to give the genre some credit for relaunching my massive YA love.

caroline.taylor078 said...

I would actually love a good new vampire series to start, I think we got really over saturated with them after Twilight and for the past year or so they have really dropped back. Now its mainly dystopian and while I do really enjoy it I am getting sick of reading book plots so similar.
If I could pick the next genre to trend it would be horror, I was a huge fan of Point Horror and Fear Street and recently read Maureen Johnsons Name Of The Star and loved it, also I am very excited for Ten by Gretchen McNeil.

Jessica said...

I completely agree with you. The problem I have with YA novels is that a lot of the books are the same. There's a sweet girl who meets a mysterious boy, or there's a complicated love triangle. The main character is an important to something or other. She saves the word, etc. etc. It's all the same. However, I think a few good books that are worth reading is Vampire Academy, A Great and Terrible Beauty, and To Catch a Pirate, which may not be a YA novel, but it's still one of my favorites.

Sara (of the Page Sage) said...

I think maybe this lack of interest in paranormal stems from a want for stronger female protagonists. While some paranormal books have great main characters (Kate from Die for Me is a good example), there is a trend where the girl is helpless and needs a guy to do everything for her. When there's characters like Katniss or Katsa (from Graceling) out there, who embody strength and independence, I think girls are more drawn to them. At least, I prefer to read about characters more like them than Bella Swan types.

Becky said...

Hi Jenny!

Fantasy and paranormal have always been my comfort zone. I love special powers / magic powers etc. But I go through phases of what I enjoy reading. I think I'm coming to the end of the contemporary phase I've been in. I had to go back to Goodreads to see the last time I read a fantasy novel. It was The Rogue by Trudi Canavan (I love her) and it was back in April. The last paranormal book was Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (I love her too) and that was back in January. I can feel myself getting in the mood for some magic though. I want to read Deadly Hemlock and The Circle next.

The problem for me is overkill. You can have too much of a good thing and it all blends together. The paranormal genre was becoming too much of a "high school cafeteria novel". The characters too ridiculous - Torment is a good example. What I'd really like to read is some translated paranormal / fantasy novels to see how other cultures explore the genre. I know everyone loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone but I found the love story a bit irritating. I don't mind a romance element but I don't want it to be the be all and end all.

Maybe that's why I enjoyed Canavan's writing so much. It was adult crossover / Australian writing so not as driven by our YA trends. Much more about injustice and social class. Gritty stuff to think about. That's what I want from fantasy and paranormal.

Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller said...

You could try Charlie Higson's Enemy series? Excellent books.

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