June 01, 2014
The world seems to be divided into two groups: the trend-setters and the trend-followers. This is true in fashion, in food, and in life in general, and the book world is no different. As publishing and bookselling continue to change, a “sure thing” will be even harder to predict. When readers respond to one particular book, other writers, editors, and publishers take notice and strive to capture the same lightning…and trends are born. Here are three trends—one past, one current, and one emerging—that we have seen in the last few years.
Mash-Ups Way back in 2009, Seth Grahame-Smith and Quirk Classics had a surprise smash hit in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—and the race was on. Suddenly, we were bombarded by the literary-monster-mash-up, in which our favorite classical characters met the forces of darkness. The flame died as fast as it sparked, however; in part because, well, after P&P&Z, the others just weren’t that good.
Dystopian Futures Dystopia has been around for a long time (1984, anyone? Brave New World?), but it took Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games in 2008 to ignite the genre. Collins’ trilogy struck a lot of chords—it’s a tale of family, survival, and nasty politics in a setting that is sci-fi enough to be new, but familiar enough to be now—and soon the young adult market was flooded with other stories of teens striving against shadowy governments. The Hunger Games had another impact, as well—Katniss Everdeen led the charge of a slew of kick-butt teen girls headlining YA fiction.
Fictionalized Stories about the Wives of Historical Figures This one is still developing, but it has been picking up steam. I point to Paula McClain’s 2011 novel, The Paris Wife, as the beginning of this trend. The Paris Wife imagines the meeting, courtship, and marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. It landed on the New York Times bestseller list, but its biggest legacy seems to be as the frontrunner of a new spate of fictionalized stories about the women behind some of history’s favorite men. At least three such titles made a splash in 2013, suggesting that this trend is just beginning.
Peyton J. Buckner Branch