Wednesday, as part of the celebration of National Children's Book Week, the winner of the Teen's Choice Book Awards was announced. Readers on Teenreads chose the top five books: Ellen Hopkins' Smoke, Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, Veronica Roth's Allegiant, Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave and Cassandra Clark's Clockwork Princess. Then teens voted from March 25 - May 12, 2014 at ccbook awards.
And the winner is . . .
Science Fiction. Again. Don't get me wrong, I love fantasy (for brevity's sake, I'm lumping sci-fi, paranormal and wizarding worlds), but there are other genres. And there are so many well-written, compelling books ignored for the trendy books, the ones Hollywood turns into blockbuster films. This is my worry -- those films are steering readers to bookshelves, virtual and real. They're creating readership for people like Roth. I enjoyed Divergent and I wish her success but do we really want our literary tastes determined by Hollywood?
The movie industry is counting on teens' supposedly insatiable appetite for fantasy. There's still the final Hunger Games, Hobbit and Divergent movies to come. Plus a film trilogy based on JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I expect those movies to drive readers to those books, tightening fantasy's grip on the literary throne.
Despite this trend, John Green's contemporary novel The Fault in Our Stars won the 2013 Teen's Choice award, beating four fantasy titles. And Hollywood noticed. The Fault in Our Stars, the story of two teens who meet in a cancer support group, is being released June 6th. Will the movie achieve the blockbuster success of YA fantasy? If it does, will more contemporary books be converted to film and will that catapult the genre into readers' hands?
No doubt, Green, Rowell and Hopkins are super stars writing award-worthy YA books. If their books become movies that lead readers to contemporary work, well, that's not a bad thing. But I encourage readers to diversify. Sample titles outside your preferred genre and try authors who aren't on Hollywood's radar. Check out the lonely books.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist, and I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti at Open Book Literary.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor