Last week, I posted the first half of the many trends that I’ve been noticing lately in YA. Even with both of these lists together, I’m sure there are many more trends that I’ve been missing, but these are many of the common themes that I’ve noticed in the past year or two. Like last time, I’ve listed several books that I’ve noticed that fit each theme, with a link to the Goodreads pages for more detail. Some of them are books that I have read, but many are books I have not read yet.
1) Famous People/Trying to Become Famous – The main character (or one of the major characters) is famous, usually as a musician or some kind of Internet figure, or sometimes an actor/actress. Or, the character dreams of becoming famous and is actively working toward that goal.
- On the Come Up – Bri wants to become a famous rapper to follow in the footsteps of her deceased father, a hip hop legend who died, and to help support her family, who are struggling financially
- Let Me Hear A Rhyme – A group of teens try to make their recently deceased friend into an underground rap star, using the tracks he had already written and recorded
- Now That I’ve Found You – Evie is supposed to become Hollywood’s next big star until circumstances lead to her being blacklisted. She decides a public appearance with her grandmother, also a famous actress, is the way to restore her career
- Permanent Record – College student Pablo meets Leanna, a former Disney Mouseketeer and now-famous singer, at 4 am one night in the middle of snowstorm and they try to keep their connection off Instagram
- I’ll Be The One – Skye Shin, who is plus-sized, dreams of becoming a K-Pop star and sets out to participate in a televised competition to become one, but her sudden fame opens her up to a lot of online scrutiny, especially about her size
- Somewhere Only We Know – A K-Pop star named Lucky, who is about to make her American debut, meets a boy at a hotel who does not know that she is famous, giving her the chance to take a break from all the stress
- I Was Born for This – Angel is obsessed with a pop-rock band known as the The Ark, and unexpectedly meets their frontman, Jimmy
2) Political settings/royalty – I’ve grouped these two together but they could easily be seen as trends on their own. Characters are involved in political campaigns in some way, or are the children of political figures. Or, at least one of the main characters is in a royal family.
- The Voting Booth – Marva is voting in her first election when she sees a boy, Duke, turned away from the polls. She takes it upon herself to help make sure that his vote will be counted
- You Say It First – Meg is working at a voter registration call center, where she connects with a boy named Colby, and they develop a long-distance friendship over the phone
- Red, White & Royal Blue – I think this is technically New Adult and not YA, but it still fits. Alex, who is the son of the president, and Prince Henry need to fake a friendship to preserve political ties between the US and Britain, and it soon develops into something more
- American Royals – Follows the three children of the American royal family, in a world where George Washington was offered the crown after the Revolutionary War
- The Royal We – Rebecca Porter finds herself living down the hall from Britain’s Prince Nicholas at Oxford, and her relationship with him propels her into a world of intense media scrutiny and the pressures of royalty
- Yes, No, Maybe So – Jamie and Maya meet while volunteering for their local state senate candidate, and connect with each other while door-to-door canvassing
- The State of Us – Dean’s mother decides to run for president, and he wants nothing to do with her campaign until he meets Dre, the son of the opposing party’s nominee
3) Sex education/sex positivity – This is kind of a trickier one to explain, but I’ve noticed a resurgence on books talking about topics such as STDs, pregnancy, and decision-making around sex. In general, I’ve seen more variety in books that deal with sex and more positive representations of sex/sexuality.
- Full Disclosure – Simone, who is HIV-positive, is worried about her classmates at her new school finding out about her diagnosis, especially once she becomes interested in Miles. After someone threatens to reveal her diagnosis, she beings to wonder if the only way to move forward is to face her classmates directly
- Like a Love Story – Set in New York in 1989, and involves three teenagers who are connected to the AIDS crisis
- Unpregnant – 17-year-old Veronica is shocked when a pregnancy test comes up positive. She wants to get an abortion and turns to her ex-best friend to drive her to nearest place to get one legally
- Not So Pure and Simple – Del has a crush on Kiera, and accidentally signs himself up for a Purity Pledge while trying to impress her, but when other boys show an interest in her, he decides he needs to act fast, even though he doesn’t know what Kiera really wants
- Have A Little Faith In Me – After her boyfriend breaks up with her, CeCe decides to follow him to a Christian camp to win him back. When she sees that he has a new girlfriend, she decides to fake a relationship with a new guy and soon starts to realize her ex may not be the good guy that she thought
- The Birds, the Bees and You and Me – 17-year-old Lacey objects to her school’s abstinence-only approach to sex education, and decides to take a stand and give out advice and contraception to her classmates
4) Social Media/Gaming – Characters meet and/or interact through social media, or social media plays a significant role in their lives (ie. Internet fame, cyberbullying, online friendships, fandoms, etc.). Or, the characters have a strong interest in video and computer games
- Don’t Read the Comments – Divya is an online gamer who uses the sponsorships she receives to help support her family, and through the game, meets Aaron, and the two of them face online harassment from a group of trolls
- Slay – Kiera is secretly the developer of an MMORPG called SLAY, where she and other Black gamers play as Nubian characters. When a teen is murdered over a dispute in the game, SLAY is labelled racist and violent, and anonymous trolls threaten to sue Kiera for discrimination
- Tweet Cute – Pepper and Jack are the children of rival fast food restaurants, and are each in charge of their restaurant’s social media feed. A conflict over a stolen recipe leads to a Twitter war between them, but at the same time, they are falling for each other in real life via an anonymous chat app
- An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – April May discovers a giant sculpture in New York City, and decides to make a video about it that quickly goes viral, and soon has to deal with all the attention that the fame brings her
- No One Here Is Lonely – Eden has recently lost her crush Will in a car accident, but is able to stay connected with him because of In Good Company, a service that creates a digital companion
- Girl Gone Viral – Opal, a talented coder, decides to take part in a contest where the winner has the opportunity to meet the billionaire founder of a virtual reality game. This founder worked closely with Opal’s father, who disappeared, and she believes this man knows what really happened to her dad
- Starworld – Sam and Zoe form a friendship through text messages, where they develop their own secret world called Starworld,
5) Supernatural Twist – Books that are set in a mostly realistic setting, but have some sort of paranormal or supernatural twist to the characters. Characters might be witches or have a connection to ghosts, and often the supernatural twist is not a romance.
- Undead Girl Gang – When Mila’s best friend Riley dies, along with two other classmates, under suspicious circumstances, Mila decides to bring the girls back to life to find out what really happened, giving them 7 days to find out the truth
- The Babysitter’s Coven – 17-year-old Esme has a babysitters club to earn money, and soon meets Cassandra, who is surprisingly eager to join her club due to a mysterious note from her mother, leading them to discover the unusual powers connected to babysitters
- Now Entering Addamsville – Zora is blamed for a fire that killed the school janitor, and finds that the only way to stop them is to find out what really happened, leading her to dig into her town’s history. A popular ghost-hunting show also arrives to the town, only further stirring up the townspeople against Zora and forcing her to work quickly to find out what happened
- City of Ghosts – Cassidy Blake’s parents are famous for their ghost-hunting show, but Cassidy herself is able to really see ghosts, including her best friend Jacob. When she meets another girl who can see the dead, they decide to team up to send the ghosts away and fight the sinister Red Raven
- These Witches Don’t Burn – Hannah is a witch living in Salem, but is intent to keep her powers a secret. When a terrifying ritual interrupts a school event, Hannah is forced to team up with her ex-girlfriend, also a witch, to find and stop the attackers