Young adult books then and now

Several months ago, one of the ladies in my yoga class asked me about my young adult books, including Bright Blaze of Magic, the third and final book in my Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series.

We started talking, along with the other ladies in class, and they mentioned something interesting — that their kids and teens in general these days just don’t seem to read the same books that their parents did. Specifically, that it seems like teens prefer to read fantasy books instead of the Nancy Drew mysteries and other classic books that their parents read when they were teens.

The Secret of the Old ClockI keep thinking about this conversation because I loved reading Nancy Drew when I was growing up, and I specifically remember the cover shown at left. I read several different versions of Nancy Drew, and I also loved reading Trixie Belden, Sweet Valley High, the Baby-Sitters Club, and just about any other book/series I could get my hands on. I checked them all out from the library and read and re-read them time and time again.

Looking back, it seems like I read more mysteries and contemporary books when I was young. I don’t remember reading a lot of fantasy books until I was in high school. That’s when I discovered authors like Terry Brooks and David Eddings.

But once I started reading fantasy, I fell in love with the genre. I just loved all the fantasy books with all these characters going on these epic adventures and trying to save their kingdom, world, etc. from the bad guys. I like to read books with a little bit of everything in them, and to me, fantasy books were the perfect combination of action, adventure, magic, danger, and romance. And they still are today. Discovering fantasy books when I was a teen is probably one of the reasons why I write fantasy books today.

Oh, I still read mysteries, romances, westerns, spy thrillers, and more, but fantasy books definitely hold a special place in my heart. And the more I think about it, the more I think that my yoga ladies are right. Just browsing through the young adult section at my local bookstores, it seems like most of the young adult books are fantasy books. And it seems like most of the big books that all the book blogs are talking about are often young adult epic fantasy books.

So why is that? I think that maybe as teens get older and start becoming more independent, that they want to read about characters who are doing the same — folks who leave the safety of their homes/towns behind, go on these epic adventures, and use their magic for the greater good. I think there’s something that’s universally appealing about that, no matter how old you are, but that it really resonates with folks when they are in their teens and trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do in life.

What do you guys think? Do the teens that you know prefer to read fantasy books? Or do they read a wide variety of books?

Bright Blaze of Magic finalBright Blaze of Magic is out now. You can order the book at all the usual sites, including the following:

Amazon Kindle / Amazon print / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-MillionGoogle Play iBooks IndieBoundKobo

The audiobook is available through Audible and Amazon, and Brittany Pressley is once again be the narrator.

And here is the book description:


As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families—and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

I hope that everyone enjoys the book. Happy reading! 🙂

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7 Responses to Young adult books then and now

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Jennifer, that’s an interesting question. I’m so not tuned into the teens/young adult culture, so I can’t say. I wonder if a lot of this is because of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter books were phenomenally popular, and maybe that’s what brought young children – who might not even been reading a lot of books before this – to reading. And they went on to read more fantasy.

    When I was very young, there were fairy tales, but after that, there wasn’t a lot of fantasy for children. Not that I can remember, anyway. I read all the Nancy Drew books, too. I loved her bravery and independence, and I think that was a good influence on me.

  2. Good point. I think Harry Potter has a lot to do with it. I think those books got a lot of kids reading, and when they were finished with the series, they wanted more fantasy books to read.

    I read several different versions/series of Nancy Drew. The Baby-Sitters club was probably my favorite series, though. I read and re-read those books so many times. Fond memories.

  3. Jennifer, I loved Nancy Drew and series like The Lone Pine which were mysteries set during WWII, but as someone who grew up in an ex-British colony, my siblings and I had Enid Blyton read to us, or given to us to read, from a young age. She was prolific and wrote fantasy and contemporary mystery series. So as a young child I had a lot of both. My kids love fantasy (and my daughter is a huge fan of the Mythos Academy, as you know :)) but I think the characters in fantasy today have the freedom the contemporary mystery kids had in the books set in the 40s, 50s & 60s where children were more independent, and parents thought nothing of letting their kids go off for long periods on their own. Whereas today, that’s just not realistic except in a fantasy setting.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Dark Horse is a PRISM 2016 Finalist

    • I haven’t heard of the Lone Pine mysteries or Enid Blyton. I’ll have to check those out sometime.

      That’s a very good point about kids having more freedom in fantasy books.

      And I’m glad that your daughter is enjoying my Mythos Academy series. 🙂
      Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Young adult books then and now …

  4. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Jennifer,

    I adore fantasy for the adventure and camaraderie, and I think you’re absolutely right that that’s what draws teens. I also read and loved Nancy growing up, but she was 18 then with a cool car. I think she’s a little girl in the current books.

    Congratulations on your excellent Black Blade series!

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