Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Themes in YA Contemporary

The contemporary genre hits or misses for people. Some people hate it, some people love it. I have heard bloggers and readers say that it's either "too boring and has too many issues involved" or "I live in this time period already!" Then there are others, like myself, who get wrapped up in it. Whether it be for the connectable characters or relatable storyline or for the writing styles, we adore contemporary. When I was thinking about this genre the other day, I realized there are a lot of subgenres/themes in contemporary. Here are some of the common ones and my favorites: 

Summer


With summer approaching, I thought this was the most fitting. I don't know about you, but when I'm at the beach or enjoying the summer (even if I just want to imagine the summer during another season), I like to pick up a contemporary novel set in the summer. Camps, relationships, friendships, family, "finding yourself." All of these can be focused on during a great summer book.

Fame


Haven't you ever imagined what would happen if you were suddenly thrown in the spotlight? I love reading about people going out of their comfort zone and dealing with outside pressure of the spotlight. While the first book is listed is about a celebrity who is used to the attention, the other two are great Meg Cabot novels focused on a girl being thrown into a whirlwind. 

Road Trips


Road trips. I know how many people love road trips nowadays. I have only read the one in the middle, but really, road trips are a wonderful experience. "Magical" things can happen in a contemporary novel when a road trip takes place.

Undercover


Spies, criminals...undercover business. Who says you can't have fun when you're trying to take down a powerful opponent? Or can't fall in love with a normal boy? 

BONUS: I am having a giveaway of the last book pictured along with its sequel. It ends this weekend! Go here to enter.

Humour


While you can have humour in any genre, you can easily find it in the contemporary field. I like to laugh. I like to smile. Humour is a big factor in keeping me entertained and it's a great emotion to possess. It's also a great themed book if you want a fun, light read.

Serious


Some people think of serious contemporary books as "issue books." You may be right. But if you turn your nose up at the thought of reading one, you will miss such great emotion. Overcoming death, issues, drama...it's a great way to bring your emotions and feelings out.

Transformation


 "Transformation books" are also usually really light reads. It can range from changing your whole lifestyle like in Going Vintage or changing your looks like in the hilarious How Not to Be Popular or changing your name like in the more serious What Happened to Goodbye. Either way, the character goes on a journey. It might sound cheesy, but usually they have a self-discovery on the way.

~*~

So there you have it. Not only are these the major themes that I see (and love), but they can also serve as some book suggestions. 

Happy Reading!

Wait! First...what are some of your favorite contemporary plots? Are you pro or anti contemporary?

24 comments:

  1. I used to be VERY anti-contemporary, preferring to spend my time with sci-fi and fantasy novels. But last year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave some contemps a chance, and now I really love the genre. And I love all the themes you've mentioned in this post. I actually think I might b adding more contemp to my TBR pile than anything else these days. Great post! I've read a few of these and have many more on my TBR list. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, a contep convert! I loved contemporary and historical the most and then I went into a really big dystopian phase...now I'm hitting contemporary harder than ever :)

      Delete
  2. Great post! You couldn't be more accurate about contemporary YA. I know a bunch of people who hate it because it isn't very climactic and heart pounding or doesn't have enough this or that. I for one, love it! My favorite subgenre/group/theme is summer. You hit the nail on the head about loving to read books in the summer that set during the summer. Sarah Dessen is my favorite all time contemporary YA author. Love all of her books!

    If you haven't already read them already, there are two books by Katherine Applegate called BEACH BLONDES (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2135550.Beach_Blondes) and TAN LINES (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2882778-tan-lines) that came out back in 2008 and are amazing! They both have everything you could want/need from a summertime contemporary YA book! They are really big books, too--perfect vacation reads :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Christine! I totally agree. It doesn't have to be SO hard hitting. There can still be great conflict in contemp.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

      Delete
  3. This is such a great post, especially since, as you probably know, I am very pro-contemporary. I second Christine's comment about some people thinking contemporary is slow, but that is far from true, as anyone who has ever read the books of Ally Carter (or the many other realistic fiction authors who write fast paced books) knows. And besides, dragon fighting isn't the only thing that can be heart-pounding; the stakes are often lower in contemporary but not necessarily less exciting.

    I love these groupings, especially the "transformation" one, which I had never really thought about as a sub-genre. You just made made me realize how much I love transformation books and how fun they almost always are! :) This is pretty much the perfect post to show to someone who doesn't read contemporary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Emily! Yes, I do know ;) Yes! Gosh, the last sentence in your first paragraph needs to be on a bulletin to all readers.

      Thank you :) They really are! I get really excited when I can tell a book will be in that group.

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much for sharing, I will have to check them out

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're right on point! I love contemporary too :)

    new follower

    ReplyDelete
  6. I went through a few phases with contemporary. First I refused to read it, then I loved it, and now I only like it if it features something new. It seems like they always feature the same plot. LOL I love how Sarah Dessen is taking over the Summer section, I've only read one of her books and I loved it! I ALWAYS love fame and roadtrip books :) I pretty much like all the sections you listed, some of those books up there are my favorite. Fun post, Sunny!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the undercover and humor contemporary books! :) I don't enjoy contemporary books with really 'gritty' issues, but I love it when contemporary books can deal with some issues in a way that is serious enough to tug at your heartstrings, but light enough to be solved by the end of the book (as in 52 Reasons to Hate My Father or The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight; or some Sarah Dessen books) and have a happy ending. Great post! :)

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam here. I don't usually like to read "gritty" books, but I love emotional ones. Thank you!

      Delete
  8. I love the Undercover, covers..very fun!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Um. I absolutely LOVE posts like this when people make connections between types of books, because it is exactly how my mind works. I also love that within the 'types' you can see that there are a lot of cover similarities as well. I will admit that I'm a tad weary of road trip books, and I'm always scared of the issue books, but I find them to be the most rewarding usually. I'm definitely a sucker for the undercover/spy books and a good comedy though (as long as it's not too over the top silly). Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that made me smile :) Thanks, Lauren! I realized that too, funny. Same here, I don't want it over the top silly, but I love humor.

      Delete
  10. I am very picky with my contemps but I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything by Miranda Kenneally and Jennifer Echols!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still haven't read Jennifer Echols!

      Delete
  11. I love contemporary! It's definitely my favorite genre, and the one that caused me to start reading young adult. Road trips, undercover, summer and humor are my favorite types of contemporaries (lol, I feel like I just named most of them) Have you ever read The Daughters by Joanna Philbin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, same here!

      And yes I have, but I haven't been able to read the latest book yet. I really need to find it somewhere. Have you?

      Delete
  12. My favorite genre is Contemporary YA. My favorite books are all from this genre. It's just that I can always find something close to my heart in these books, something real and easy to relate too.
    My favorite types of contemporary are both the serious and the funny ones. I also have a special love for books about a great transformation or about fame.
    Great post!! I really enjoyed reading it (:

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, exactly, I feel the same :)

      Thank you so much!

      Delete