Fifteen years ago, a pre-teen wizard named Harry Potter captured the imagination of the world's youth. Then, the Twilight
saga gave us a love triangle involving a teenage girl, her vampire boyfriend, and her werewolf best friend. And recently, hugely popular young adult book franchises like The Hunger Games
and the Percy Jackson series have not only sold in the millions but led to Hollywood blockbusters.
Young adult fiction is booming right now, and according to writer Lesley Livingston, you can credit the internet for that.
"Whereas reading used to be a strictly insular, individual, private experience, what's happening now is it's still that, but at the same time, that experience is being taken online and it is becoming this shared community experience, and it's really massively exciting for both the readers and the authors and for the publishers as well," she told Here and Now in Toronto recently.
This generation of web-savvy young people can discuss and dissect their favourite books with fans from around the world, and even interact with the authors in some cases. They can organize massive conferences, conventions and theme parties.
Now, glitzy marketing and hype won't elevate a story into popularity if it doesn't strike a chord with the readers. But this is where young adult fiction is a genre with a somewhat interesting advantage. Despite the wildly fantastical plots and characters (Livingston's new book Once Every Never
, for example, is about a time-traveling girl who ends up befriending a Celtic warrior queen's daughters), the overarching themes are emotionally resonant for young people.
"By its very nature, if you're writing about people who are 15, 16, 17, 18-years-old, you're writing stories that are sort of about firsts. Your first kiss, your first love, your first heartbreak, your first vampire," she said with a laugh.
"It's a very exciting genre to be writing in, it's very passionate, and it's very immediate, and I have the best readers in the world."