Why YA Fiction Trends to Fantastical


Take a look at the Young Adult fiction sitting on bookshelves — both physical and digital. You’ll find that a large percentage tend toward the fantastical and speculative: Dystopian fiction like "The Hunger Games", "Maze Runner", and "Divergent"; Science Fiction like "Skyward" and "Ender’s Game"; and, of course, Fantasy in the contemporary vein of "Harry Potter" and the epic flavor of "An Ember in the Ashes" and "Air Awakens".  But, why is that?

Why do so many Young Adult novels trend in this direction, rather than dealing with more true-to-life, grounded stories set in a familiar present?
The answer lies in what makes all the speculative genres so amazing…
The Wondrous Appeal of the Fantastical
There are lots of reasons why people enjoy speculative fiction like Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Superheroes, and all the other sub-genres. These types of fiction appeal to younger audiences on a number of levels.
A great escape. Life as a young adult is hard, no doubt about it. High school and college bring an immense amount of pressure, challenge, and struggle, and there are always concerns over what the future may hold.
So, there’s something to be said for a story that allows a young reader to escape from the cares of their lives, if only for a few hours at a time. These stories paint a flavor of “fantastic” on a world that, at times, seems so bleak and grim. Problems can be set aside and forgotten for a while to enjoy an amazing story about a young protagonist who does spectacular things. It’s the same sort of distraction that is provided by browsing videos or scrolling through social media feeds—it temporarily puts struggles out of mind, making life momentarily better.
Difficult subjects made more palatable. Young adults live in a world that is growing increasingly more complex. Things like climate change, politics, and social justice make for countless shades of grey, and
nothing seems to be simple anymore.

Read the entire article in the June 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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