Hello friends! Today’s topic is inspired by an old Let’s Talk Bookish prompt (which is hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion – go check out their blogs as well). I saw the prompt ‘predicting trends in ya fiction’ but I didn’t have the time to write a post on it back then, and the idea stuck in my head – so here we are!

Also, the title of this post should have been ‘why Six of Crows is a trendsetter’ and you’ll see why.

And, some of these aren’t official ‘trends’ but simply patterns I saw when going through goodreads. Which is I guess what you call a trend. But I digress.

doodlecrafter the ider Do

*all book covers link to their goodreads pages; feel free to click on them and add them to your TBR if you haven’t already!

1) morally grey characters

Morally grey characters are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon in YA fiction. I don’t LOVE them but I don’t hate them either – whether I like a morally grey character or not depends largely on my mood.

For reference, I loved Felix in Felix Ever After, who made some questionable decisions, and Juliette Cai from These Violent Delights, who is straight up brutal at times, but I didn’t like Kaz Brekker, who’s pretty much the morally grey character. #unpopular opinion

For a more coherent discussion about this topic, refer to Kal’s excellent post about why she loves morally grey characters.

2) duologies

Remember that time after The Hunger Games happened when trilogies were all the rage? Duologies are shorter than trilogies and have more substance than a standalone book, while leaving room for character development and world building. It also completely negates the need for that ‘awkward middle book’ of a trilogy.

I don’t know if there were popular duologies published before 2015, but Six of Crows did kickstart this trend.

3) this synopsis style

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret

A Dark and Hollow Star, Ashley Shuttleworth

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Realm Breaker, Victoria Aveyard

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

Aurora Rising, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Okay I admit, it does look cool.

4) diversity

This is the one thing on this list that I wish would stick around forever. Pre 2010-ish YA always, always had a white, slender, straight, brown-haired protagonist, in a mostly white cast, with a black or gay sidekick thrown in for “diversity”. There’s a 50% chance that said sidekick is killed off during the story.

This ‘white is the default’ mode is very harmful (I might write another post about it??) and people need to support diverse authors all the time. Not just because it’s AAPI heritage month or black history month or pride month or so on, and definitely not because it’s a trend. It should be normal. Writing this made me question why I even added this here.

Here are some diverse recs you totally should add to your TBR!

Moving on to some non-SoC related trends,

5) protagonist has best friend. around 75% of the book, they have a huge argument with said best friend. of course they make up at the end of the book.

This is more of a plot device than a trend, but I’ve seen this in so many contemporary YA books. Probably because this is the easiest way to add conflict to a book? It doesn’t discourage me from loving a book, but it is kinda unrealistic because I’ve never yelled at a friend like that, and nothing has ever led to a dramatic breakup. I wish contemporary books would show other, more realistic ways that friends break up, like moving to a new place or just not being in touch with each other.

No recs because of obvious spoilers😉

6) {blank} of {blank} and {blank} titles

Okay I’ll stop now

7) centuries-old love interests

Twilight started it, the Darkling cemented it, and Sarah J Maas made it into a cult classic. And I’m here waiting until the day this will die down, because why can’t a girl get a normal aged love interest who is not a) the-most-powerful-of-all, b) smoking hot, c) overtly overprotective? And while we’re on this topic, why are all these people dudes?

Let’s chat! Was I accurate? Or was I not? What are some other trends you’ve noticed? Let me know in your comments!

87 thoughts on “Trends in YA fiction | a discussion & many recommendations

  1. 🤣🤣🤣 I LOVED this, Jan!! You were so on point! I’ve noticed most of these myself, but that synopsis style one caught me completely off guard – maybe because nine times out of ten, I don’t read the synopsis… I love going into books knowing as little as possible! But it’s hilarious how blatantly similar these are 😂 Though yeah, I agree – they do sound kind of cool 😎
    And boy, don’t get me started on those super old love interests 🙄 Seeing how many times I’ve ranted about them on my own blog, I obviously agree 100%. Especially after just having read ACOSF 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that you pointed out the title and blurb trends! It’s crazy how true those are for so many books! Also, I think what makes morally grey characters interesting is that not everyone is gonna like them or side with them. That prompts more potential for discussion and analysis: something we love to do when we talk books!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this was SO true! i recognised that SoC-inspired synopsis when i saw realm breaker, but the *noun* of *noun* and *noun* thing is so repeated! (the entirety of acotar, lol!) i love morally grey characters, too! this discussion was amazing; great post, jan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. omg I loved this so much Jan!! (I’ll love anything with SoC references, but this post would have been amazing without them too, and that’s HUGE coming from me) Ahh yes I have been noticing that synopsis trend nowadays too, and all the books with such synopses go straight to my asap tbr!! (can you tell I am obsessed with found families? lol) so any more suggestions with such books would be welcome!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow, it was so fun to read! Now, I haven’t read any YA books ever (atleast as far as I know), but that didn’t make this post less enjoyable.☺️


  6. omg before reading your post, i didn’t even notice so many of these trends! i mean, after you mentioned it though, they get kinda obvious haha. also completely agree with the centuries-old-love-interests, ahh why is that still even a thing? loved this post! 💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh god, Jan!! Every word of this post was accurate. I really don’t understand the centuries old love interest. Isn’t that weird? Specifically the Twillight series (that was unbearable *shudders*).
    One of the trends that isn’t much popular but I have noticed is fated mates. Especially enemies-to-lovers fated mates. Two people who can’t stand each other are suddenly in love because of some bibbidy-bobbidy-boo magic? No thanks. The two probably wouldn’t even get along if not for magic.
    I’m glad you pointed out the trending synopsis style. I don’t exactly know why but there’s something those that draws me in. Great post!!😁

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such an amazing post.
    Also you’re the first person to say that you didn’t like Kaz because he was morally gray and I totally agree??? Everyone LOVES him but for me, he’s one of my least favorite crows. He’s just so brutal and why is him being basically emotionless his only character trait (if you can call that a character trait).
    Aaaaaaaaand okay the friend argument thing, I have that in my WIP. It’s not exactly an argument but more of a ‘friend stops talking to MC’. For a reason. It’s a legitimate reason but I do see how that’s a thing that happens a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Phoenix!! Everything you said about Kaz in SoC is so true. I knew he was going to get a tragic backstory – maybe i just wanted him to be brutal just because?? Ahaha none of these trends are bad (except maybe the last one I hate that) and good luck on your wip!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Awesome post, I laughed so much!! Especially when I read about the synopsis style point, that was so accurate! And it does sound amazing, right? I always get interested when I skim book synopses and see that format, and instantly know it’s a heist book XD

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Omg, Jan…this post was sooo fun to read!! The {blank} of {blank} and {blank} is soo classy – I cant think of any title like that right now but, like you said, now that I google it, there are soo many of them! And the synopsis style looks so cool!! Thanks for the recommendations and actually pointing out the trends!!💛💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was such a fun post!! So many tropes that I hadn’t even thought of like that synopsis one! I’ve never thought about that before but it’s definitely an intriguing way to describe a book and the ones I haven’t read sound so promising!
      I’ve only read two of the books you mentioned (Felix Ever After and SoC/CK, all of which I loved) but so many are on my tbr though; like The Gilded Wolves, Ace of Spades, Spin The Dawn and Strange the Dreamer which all sound amazing!
      Loved this post and thanks for all the recommendations!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ooh, fun post! Also, you’re totally spot-on with these. I loooove seeing diversity in fiction, and that synopsis style is awesome.
    The rest of them? Ehhhh. It depends on the author, really. Sometimes they’re done well, other times not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You’ve named so many that I’ve recognized, but have never put properly into words. Love it Jan!! As a contemporary reader, there is always a conflict between the MC and another person that happens at around the 75% mark. And I will admit, it does get quite annoying sometimes lol. Absolutely love this post 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you, saniya😃 yes I saw that trope so much after I really got *into* reading contemporary. It doesn’t annoy me much – yet😂😂 – but when you see it happen in so many books I imagine it must feel somewhat annoying😃

      Liked by 1 person

  13. ahh jan this was an incredible discussion post i loved it!! definitely cackling away at the stereotype ya book title format as well as the synopsis style which agreed, sounds too cool to pass up! and ooh a morally grey character i thought was truly well done was adelina from the young elites, and i’m so surprised you didn’t like kaz brekker haha but agreed, six of crows seems to be setting the trend! ah yes, diversity is truly one that should be kept going, it’s so important and heatening to read, thank you for the recs as well!! great post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, cherelle!! Ahaha yes, that synopsis style keeps on getting popular, and yes, Six of crows is a trendsetter. I haven’t read the young elites yet, but it is on my TBR, and it seems like a really good book!
      I hope you enjoy these books when you get to them!!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You’re so right about these trends! Especially the title one haha. I haven’t seen the best friend thing a lot myself though. It could be because I don’t read that much YA anyway. Great post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love this discussion so much and I still am laughing so hard at the {word} of {word} and {word} titling explosion that happened in 2018. There was a display at my local indie for all books with titles like this! I’m a HUGE FAN of the duology trend as well because most trilogies & quartets felt… stretched out? I find the plotting is much better with duologies and I’m less likely to be bored with unnecessary filler.

    Thanks so much for linking to my post about morally gray characters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you!! Haha yes, book titles like that suddenly became common out of nowhere…I agree that the plotting is so much better and more compact than in a trilogy or quartet.
      You’re welcome, I really enjoyed that post too!


  16. I love this post! You definitely nailed number 3 hahaha! Not a big fan of that style but there are some books that work with that and it makes it more intriguing

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I have definitely noticed the common copy/paste titles, though I don’t mind them. The morally grey characters is a little annoying but hasn’t stopped me from picking any books up. Great discussion!

    Happy reading!
    -Megan @ Bookstacks & Golden Moms

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ahh I’m here late, but what a wonderful post!! You were absolutely accurate Jan, I found myself nodding in agreement with all your points. “Twilight started it, the Darkling cemented it, and Sarah J Maas made it into a cult classic” BAHAHAHA (but seriously you summed it up perfectly)!! Diverse books are becoming more and more prevalent, as they rightfully deserve, so like you said I hope it never leaves 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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