Forget an Italian-based coven of vampires who just don't get teenage love. The real-life villain in today's popular young adult novels, if you look closely, is something that's plagued the United States for the last few years: the economy. "Anyone who's actually experienced their parents losing a job knows that it feels just like it would feel to stand in a stadium and have to kill your friends. It's actually scarier than that," Y.A. editor Lizzie Skurnick told NPR, referring to the plot of the mega-hit trilogy of novels known as The Hunger Games.
"[T]o me it seems clear that the economic anxieties keeping today's adults awake at night — income inequality, food insecurity, downward mobility, winner-takes-all competition — have also invaded the literature of their children," NPR's Marcela Valdes adds.
Valdes's read of the economy being the allegorical anchor in The Hunger Games and the upcoming Divergent undercuts the idea that young adult novels are nothing but vampire fluff. And it possibly shows why adults are as enthusiastic about these novels as their young adult counterparts are — adults had to deal with the financial crisis in 2008 (when The Hunger Games was released) first-hand, after all,. And the author of Divergent, Veronica Roth, witnessed three years of economic doom-and-gloom before her book was released in 2011.
All this makes you wonder where Y.A. novels will head next: the fight over gay marriage? The Arab Spring? The possibilities are endless.