Grim storylines continue to remain popular in the young adult reading section. Vishnupriya Bhandaram tracks the tales
Thanks to the PS3s and the Xbox, one would think we were living in the society in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, where books are outlawed. When children like Harshita Sudha, a seventh-grader, say they're looking forward to spending the summers re-reading the Harry Potter series, it's reassuring to know that book-reading survives. “I hope to make a list of spells! Apart from Harry Potter I am looking forward to reading a few of Suzanne Collins' books,” says Harshita. While we're happy for Potter, and that the charm of the scarred forehead, a noseless enemy and round glasses still holds good, there has been growing buzz around dystopian themes.
Brave new world like Aldous Huxley's, where universal happiness has seemingly been achieved and natural processes of reproduction are done away with, have been around for a long time. Those were futuristic interpretations emerging from the sinister human psyche. From battling small conflicts, post-apocalypse novels are dark and grim storylines about broken societies, wicked, twisted and sadistic dictators, and brave heroes battling the force is how the plots go. The Hunger Games trilogy probably ushered in this trend again and other authors have been only glad to grab a piece. Veronica Roth's Divergent, the first novel in a trilogy she is working on, is about a futuristic Chicago in which society is divided into factions based on virtues.
This summer, characters like Edward and Bella may be losing their charm to zombies and survivors of apocalypse. While paranormal romance plots are not being completely done away with, the trend has definitely gone south. Still love vampires? Try Keturah and Lord Death, written by Martine Leavitt. It is a story about 16-year-old Keturah on her encounters with Lord Death and how she saves herself by spinning tales. Chuck the vampires and lean over to ‘Shadow Hunters' who walk the streets of New York. In Cassandra Clare's first book, City of Bones, she brings out a world of angels and monsters. Meant for readers aged 10 to 12, the Geronimo Stilton series remains popular. The stories narrate the adventures of the Thea sisters.
Moving away from the fantasy genre that is always held in high regard by tweens and teens, some readers are giving the classics a chance. Malgudi Days still remains popular with young adults, apart from Nancy Drew, Famous Five and Hardy Boys books. Even historical fiction is gaining with young girls. Shayoni Sen, in standard VI, is settling down to devour her older sister's collection of The Royal Diaries, published by Scholastic, a series of historical fiction on princesses, duchesses and queens from different countries.
All said and done, this summer dystopian and post-apocalypse novels will remain popular. Perhaps what's most appealing to any teenager is rebellion against authority or censorship and these novels are cashing in on that. Siddharth Kinghar, a ninth grader who admits to being a comic geek, says that while almost all his classmates are devouring The Hunger Games series, he has kept away so far. “Everybody around me is reading them. That makes me want to read it less, but because the plot seems interesting, I might try it,” he says and goes back to his Gameboy.