Is YA becoming darker?
I think the impact of the growing trend was magnified by Twilight, which started a chain of paranormal films targeting teenagers. Authors then got into it, and started writing paranormal fiction, which caused teenagers to have more paranormal books to read, which publishers thought "More! More!" and that all sums up to an overall realisation that YA, conglomerated with other books, like YA for historical fiction and such, is overall becoming darker.
That's not fair, is it? So no:
I don't think that the genre of YA is becoming darker, I think that paranormal books, which are in nature really dark, are becoming and ARE popular. More paranormal books published outshine all the other YA books.
From a writer's perspective, using paranormal elements is an easy way to make a story interesting. One can make up many things, have an already established base of creatures and background information to research from. The personality of these creatures provides for a great way to explore the darker side of things, because most fictional creatures are "evil". Writing paranormal is easier in that general sense.
Writing historical novels, all the history and the research going into that is tiresome and hard, no? Historians will say no, like me, and would say "I love history! It's fascinating and is no trouble to me" But there's still the issue of getting information wrong, of having to piece together a story from many sources and accounts.
Writing contemporary is difficult as well. What topics can you write that's contemporary? Teenagers, getting drunk, death (car crashes), coming-of-age and romance. There's not much that a writer can use, looking at all the contemporary novels published. And because of that, the writing has to be extraordinarily well done. The exploration of human nature has to be portrayed effectively, and everything, every skill, must be put on maximum functioning.
This genre in itself is just a dark genre. With it's rising popularity, more of it is being published. So what?
Is it just paranormal?
I think with our generation, the teenage generation, people are aware of our "maturity" to certain topics, like death, bullying etc... and therefore, explore more into what would have been considered a social flop back then. Contemporary has been showing a lot of books on anorexia, bulimia, suicide, drug addiction, drinking, sex and so on, because those are problems that teens need to be aware of, and need to know can be helped. Besides, it's more interesting to read about this, than about a character having a fun and amazing life right? (note my sarcasm)
Will YA recover?
I think that the genre was invented quite recently, actually. I remember, I think, that there was children's, middle grade, and Adult. Like, the middle-grade were all coming-of-age stories meant for "teens", like Romona and Beezus. And because the genre is relatively new, and booming because so many teens love reading, we're still in the baby steps. Paranormal is just a phase that will eventually pass, and hopefully more intellectual genres will become popular (My dream is for historical fiction to be as common as dirt)
I don't mean for the "YA becoming darker" thing to seem like a disease or pandemic, just know that I'm biased against paranormal, That I personally don't like reading it. But it's such big part of the YA world that it's hard to ignore.
Later in August, I'll be featuring and giving away many paranormal books, for you readers who enjoy it, so I'll make up for this bashing then!