By Reese Petrie
From Jane Austen to Suzanne Collins, the brilliant minds of so many amazing authors have shown the fire they possess within their souls. This fire has created some of the most incredible books, storylines, and pieces of literature in the world. The literary world has changed quite drastically from the days of Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, but these classic books of the 1800’s and 1900’s still hold a place in modern day bookshelves. Novels share stories that have changed lives, and within the young adult genre, new stories are really adding to the fire. The New York Times is a major newspaper in the United States, and every Wednesday at seven p.m, they update their bestseller list. There are many different categories of the lists, but one in particular is young adult hardcover books.
Although the YA list contains only ten books, some of them have been on there for over a year. Karen M. McManus’s book, One Of Us is Lying, has been on the YA hardcover bestseller list for 166 weeks. The novel revolves around five high school students in detention, but when only four of them come out alive, who’s to blame for the death of the fifth student? The Cousins gives off the same mysterious story-telling that One of Us is Lying does, but with a completely different story line. The author also has two other books out, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One Of Us is Next, which is a sequel to One of Us is Lying, which are currently not on the New York Times list. McManus has created a whole new world of murder and mystery within the young adult genre, and has given the idea of literary art a whole new perspective. She has proven that literary fiction isn’t just about love and romance, but has shown that the thrilling aspects of her novels deserve to be equally appreciated.
The YA world contains some of the biggest book series, and in so many different genres within the young adult category like contemporary fiction, fantasy, romance, and dystopian. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, has been one of the most read book series throughout the world, and falls into the dystopian/science-fiction genre. The series captures what happens in a time when the United States no longer exists, and follows sixteen-year-old girl Katniss Everdeen as she fights for her life in the Hunger Games Arena against twenty-three other kids. The story continues in a trilogy of books with the sequel, Catching Fire, and the final book of Katniss’s story, Mockingjay, which were both best sellers along with the first book for five years. The first book was published in September of 2008, and its first movie of the series was released in March of 2012. Some teen readers have attracted to YA novels solely because of movie adaptations like the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, After by Anna Todd, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Everything Everything Nicola Yoon, The Fault in Our stars by John Green, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and the Divergent series by Jennifer Roth.
As the world of literature is constantly changing, so is the idea of what defines a brilliant book. Every time someone reads a book, they could interpret it in a completely different manner than someone else may, and that’s the power young adult novels have given to the generation of teen readers. Dystopian novels have allowed the conspiracy of the future, and how living in a perfect society will never be possible. Fantasy books like Twilight tell the gravitating, supernatural story of a human and a vampire falling in love, and the series contains four books, and was even adapted into five movies. Even the importance of mental health has been put into YA novels like All the Bright Places, and The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Different races have also been included in book series such as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, which follows Lara Jean, a young Asian American girl who’s love letters have been released to all of her former crushes. New York Times paperback bestseller We Were Liars by E. Lockhart even takes on the power of drugs. In today’s society, teenagers struggling with mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, have been able to look to these types of books as an outlet. Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places captures the story of two teens who confide in one another to pull them out of their sadness. Niven has created a fandom, called Lovely’s, for her young readers where they can feel that they are a part of something. Social media opens up communication for everyone, and the world of books has been expanded by platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok. The apps have created ways to share your opinion about books, and get to know people from around the world who share the same feelings. The social aspects of young adult novels have made teens feel like they get to be a part of something that’s bigger than just a book.
Young adult authors have addressed a variety of topics that have been considered “inappropriate.” Many young readers have experienced that reading about what they relate to makes them feel like they aren’t alone, and this encourages teens to know all emotions are okay to feel. Novels hold the power of fiction for everyone’s entertainment, but also to make its readers feel connected to something. Characters, settings, and storylines have made people all over the world feel like they are experiencing more than just their lives have to offer. Great authors around the world contain a fire within their souls, and it has been expressed through this new generation of literature. They have used their power to connect with and entertain their readers, but most of all, they have used their fire to change lives.