Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paranormal Frenzy

I spent two hours at a local Barnes & Noble the other day, and of course I ventured over to the Science Fiction/Fantasy section. And I noticed that the Paranormal Young Adult Romance section was sitting right up next to it. Granted, it had been a long time since I had gone into a big book store. But what struck me was the amount of books in that genre. The second thing that caught my attention was that a vast majority of them were marketed to females.

But just on the other side of the book display was the regular Young Adult stuff, and even that area was pretty full of more paranormal books. Now I'm not going to tackle teen paranormal romance right now, as that deserves it's own post. But I did want to talk about the popularity of everything paranormal.

As you probably know, paranormal is hot right now. But why?

Stories dealing with the paranormal is nothing new. X-Files, Stephen King, all the super hero movies, The Twilight Zone, The Ghost Whisperer, any of M. Night Shamalamalammading-dong's movies...dealing with things that go bump in the night is nothing new. Authors have been writing about vampires, ghosts, werewolves, UFOs, people with powers, etc. since forever.

The big shift is that the paranormal theme is hot among teens. Growing up, I read Goosebumps. Those in their upper teens/20s grew up with Harry Potter. And of course, the book that really propelled Paranormal YA Romance, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series and the billions of copycats that have followed it, has put paranormal subject matter up front and center.

This world is just full of all kinds of tragedy. On September 11th, America had lost its "innocence" like no one had ever seen since the attack at Pearl Harbor. Our country has been in an economic tailspin going back to 2007. Mom and/or Dad has lost their job. Houses foreclosed on, forcing families to vacate homes and move to a new town. In the information age, eyes and ears are everywhere - so we know about more murders, beatings, and heroes that have fallen and let us down. All in the blink of an eye.

We live in a very uncertain and oftentimes cruel world.

The paranormal strikes a deep-rooted nerve within many of us in our thirst to understand the unknown. To try to make sense of the senseless. Geez, adolescence is already such a difficult and trying time when young adults are trying to figure out who they are, who their friends are, what the world is like, and what their future holds. For a teen, the world is one big uncertainty where bad things can happen to good people. And that's scary as hell.

In many of these books, the protagonist has powers and is able to use those powers to save the day. Often, that main character is an outcast or was quite ordinary until the powers manifest themselves during puberty or something. Or maybe the protagonist falls in love with someone with powers. The common denominator here is that you have teens coming to terms with maybe being different, or dealing with change and the unknown, and in the end coming out ok. Maybe even end up being a hero. Or being loved. Or being accepted. Or at the very least, understanding a little bit more about life and learning about some of the things that we, in fact, can control. The unknown isn't so scary.

Stories dealing with the paranormal is not only appealing, but it's therapeutic. Reading these books might give teens a sense of  empowerment, maybe help them gain a little more insight into this crazy mysterious world.

And that is quite normal.

*I took a lot of adolescent psychology in college, and then I was a high school English teacher for five years. On top of that I coached sports. I even coached the girls tennis team where the truth of female adolescent behavior and attitude slapped me across the face. Hard.

36 comments:

T. S. Bazelli said...

It's not just in the YA section, but the adult as well. It also seems like most agents out there these days are looking for paranormal rather than traditional fantasy. I wonder how long its popularity will continue.

Jay Noel said...

T: I used to think it was just a fad. But now I'm not so sure. It's formulaic, yes, but the buyers like the formula! Publishing comes down to one thing: sales. As long as it keeps selling, they will keep stocking the shelves with it.

I think eventually, it will have to evolve, however.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

I don't think it's a fad as you say. I'm just throwing this idea out there without any facts to back this up, but do you think it's possible that some of the paranormal rage has to do with the degrading quality of education in the United States?

Here's what I've observed. In Utah where I live, my co-workers believe in magic. They think it's real. One co-worker believes that if he is in a fire, that the garment he wears because it is blessed will keep him from burning. Many also believe that the world is only 7000 years old.

As a man that appreciates science, I hold my tongue on most of these things because I don't want to end up in an argument at work. But these paranormal books are widely popular here and adults and kids alike read them. I have to wonder if (when they are reading) they think that what they are reading may be based in real life. If there really are vampires, zombies, ghosts, and goblins, etc. I don't believe in that stuff...but they do.

So my "theory" is that this may be behind some of the interest in this field of books. Again...no facts to back this up. Just personal observations.

But yeah there is no denying the fact that YA paranormal is a huge loot pinata just waiting for the next author to come along and strike it rich. Agents and publishers know this so that's what they push. And for the record, I've read one or two of these books and couldn't stand them. I thought them poorly written and wondered why on earth people soaked them up like a sponge. Again...maybe it has something to do with how educated the population is.

I do know that Stephanie Meyer's Twilight saga is an allegory of the LDS life. They believe in a celestial marriage (which is why the vampires sparkle in her book--it's supposed to be kind of angelic). When Edward takes Bella to be his wife, it is like a temple marriage thereby ensuring her immortality and that their union will last forever (also a thing with their church).

Jay Noel said...

Michael: I've been thinking along the same lines as you, although not as literal. I'm thinking more that it's the degrading of not just education, but our intellectual fibers as a whole that have rotted out.

I mean, look at the array of shows we love. Jersey Shore? I grew up with the dawn of Beavis and Butthead. Maybe we love stupid stuff because we're stupid.

Is YA Paranormal Romance mean the downfall of literature??? I won't go that far Remember, people thought the exact same things about comic books, pulp fiction, and even Westerns.

But I do see their popularity as a need for escape. The adult readers know how poor the writing is, but many of the women fans just can't get enough of it.

And I did read some things about Meyer's religion and how it is subliminally in her books. I think authors inject their own beliefs in their writings quite naturally, so I don't doubt it at all.

But if only she could learn not to use so many damn adverbs. Oh, and the use of a good editor would be good too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In my day, we read fantasy and science fiction to escape. Paranormal does seem to be everywhere. And on overload.
I've also been trying to follow your site for the last week, but Google has been a pain, and I still can't. I will add your site to my Google Reader - hopefully some day I can actually follow!

Jay Noel said...

Alex: I read comic books and stuff too. But I don't think you can ignore the Twilight Factor.

Weird how it's not working. I think I had a couple issues yesterday with it. I'd try to follow, but then get an error message.

David P. King said...

I went into a B&N recently and had the same reaction as you described, Jay. Kind of ominous for me, as I'm trying to find a home for a paranormal fantasy MS right now, meant to appeal to all genders. Paranormal wasn't the trend when I started it. It's hard to know if the main guy and girl sharing the stage is an issue or not.

I don't see why it should. Then again, I didn't notice any of the current titles having male POVs (or male authors for that matter).

Good thing Monster Hunter International is around for balance! :)

Jay Noel said...

David: And no offense to the ladies at all. We all know women buy WAY more books than men. Which is sad, since we seem to lose male reader right around 14-18. They turn to magazines, and I got a ton of heat from fellow bloggers/writers when I said there isn't much for young adult males to read.

The recent surge of YA Paranormal Romance for females has also brought a new standard for book covers. It seems you had to have a scantily clad hot girl, laying on something, with a splash of red somewhere.

Now it's the hot girl/tough girl cover. It's of a scantily clad hot girl with a sword, or a gun, or magical lasers coming out of her hands.

I think, once again, it is all part of that escapism. But it can't be good for female body image issues.

Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

I'd never looked at the paranormal genre from a teen's perspective like that before, though it makes sense. I wonder if adult's reasons for liking it are much different?

(For women it always seems to be associated with romance. Personally, I'd like to see/hear about more successful paranormal adventures whose core plots don't revolve around some scantily-clad woman romancing a werewolf/vampire/what-have-you.)

M Pax said...

I noticed the YA section, too. I hadn't seen it before ... maybe because it wasn't next to sci-fi before. Fantasy is a great escape & facing a scary obstacle strikes a chord on many levels.

Mr. Shife said...

Good post, buddy. Anything that is legal and can help people escape for a few hours is a good thing especially during these uncertain times. Speaking of an escape, I still need one. Having a hard time getting over Pujols leaving the Cardinals.

Jay Noel said...

Mary: I just wish we could get more boys to read. Judging by what the bookstores are putting on the shelves and what's selling, girls are reading at a much higher rate.

Jay Noel said...

Shife: I like how you had to include "legal."

You should see what it's like here in town. They have a security officer guarding the big bronze statue of AP5 outside his restaurant.

People are PISSED.

The Desert Rocks said...

I can't see myself giving my kid occult, witch or paranormal books at all, and yet Harry Potter deals with all of it. We live in a weird world.
:)

Stephen Tremp said...

In a a sense I have a paranormal element woven into my books. But it all makes sense in the realm of theoretical physics, where sci fi and the paranormal may not be that far fetched. I think the Theory of Everything needs to include the paranormal, something 90 percent of human civilization has believed in, if it truly wants to be a Theory of Everything.

Jay Noel said...

Eve: The way Harry Potter deals with magic is such is harmless. Nevertheless, before my oldest started reading them, I read a few first just to make sure. They're not bad books!

Stephen: I love the paranormal. But I find placing very ordinary people in paranormal (extraordinary) circumstances to be more interesting. It seems there's just a ton of books about ordinary people becoming superheroes (i.e. vampire hunters, shape-shifters, etc.)

Riann Coltan said...

I had a comment. It's awesome. It went on and on and on and ooooon. So I made it a post. Uhm...thanks for the post idea.

But in relation to your post and not mine: I think why paranormal is so popular it let's the reader escapes from the ordinary world into the extraordinary.

Joel Gray said...

Hey Jay,

Thanks for the comment on my blog. You have an interesting article, too. Paranormal things seem to be more popular than than before. The uncertain times do lead people to want something to rest on.

Regarding your comment on my article:

There are so many strange monuments around the world. To document and investigate all the evidence would require many books.

That's interesting about the Easter Island statues. So, they are actually heavier than what was once thought? I believe it. There is no way the natives could have constructed those heads with primitive tools. We would probably have great difficulty if we applied our best science to the task of rearing up those heads.


Thanks for the comment.

~Joel

Anonymous said...

Touche. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.


Also visot my blog post ... Watch Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Online

Junda Xu said...

20150724 junda
ray ban sunglasses
kate spade bags
oakley sunglasses sale
ray bans
tory burch shoes
cheap ray ban sunglasses
michael kors handbags
true religion outlet
gucci uk
kate spade bags
kate spade
jordan shoes uk
coach outlet
fitflops shoes
ralph lauren pas cher
gucci sito ufficiale
burberry sale
hollister kids
chanel bags
louis vuitton borse
true religion sale
coach outlet
ed hardy clothing outlet
tory burch outlet online
ray bans
kate spade new york
cheap jordans free shipping
oakley sunglasses wholesale
michael kors
michael kors outlet online
replica watches for sale
michael kors bags
pandora jewelry sale
cheap oakley sunglasses
ray bans
ed hardy outlet
mont blanc
kate spade handbags
pandora charms
christian louboutin shoes

John said...

ray bans
tory burch outlet
air max 95
louboutin pas cher
nike roshe runs
mcm outlet
prada
insanity workout
instyler curling iron
fitflop uk
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cheap oakleys
gucci
juicy couture
north face
ed hardy clothing
coach outlet canada
michael kors outlet online
nike roshe run women
ghd hair straighteners
ralph lauren
gucci shoes
mulberry handbags
ugg sale
gucci outlet
mizuno running shoes
timberland uk
christian louboutin uk
cheap jerseys
giuseppe zanotti sneakers
rolex watches
2015923yuanyuan

John said...

replica watches
uggs outlet
giuseppe zanotti sneakers
prada uk
uggs boots
canada goose
canada goose jackets
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet
adidas superstar
toms
hollister jeans
gucci outlet
coach factory outlet
michael kors handbags
uggs sale
north face uk
michael kors outlet online
abercrombie and fitch
abercrombie & fitch
jordan shoes
abercrombie and fitch
michael kors outlet stores
nike running shoes
polo ralph lauren
air max 95
uggs sale
ray ban sunglasses
timberland boots
ugg clearance
20151105yuanyuan

mmjiaxin said...

canada goose outelt
tods shoes
abercrombie and fitch
canada goose coats
lebron shoes
belstaff outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
chanel handbags outlet
air jordan shoes for sale
chanel outlet store
abercrombie and fitch
abercrombie and fitch
tory burch outlet
ray ban outlet
denver broncos
cheap nfl jersey
herve leger dresses
lacoste pas cher
michael kors online outlet
rolex watches,rolex,watches for men,watches for women,omega watches,replica watches,rolex watches for sale,rolex replica,rolex watch,cartier watches,rolex submariner,fake rolex,rolex replica watches,replica rolex
mm1112

mmjiaxin said...

ugg boots outlet,ugg outlet
true religion outlet uk
lacoste pas cher
burberry outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
true religion jeans
michael kors handbags
christian louboutin,louboutin,louboutin outlet,louboutin outlet italia,scarpe louboutin
true religion outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton handbags outlet
mulberry outlet store
cheap football shirts
cheap nfl jersey
cheap ugg boots
oakley sunglasses wholesale
fred perry polo shirts
mlb jerseys
mm0114

ninest123 said...

ninest123 16.01
prada handbags, longchamp outlet, longchamp, ray ban sunglasses, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ugg boots, replica watches, tiffany jewelry, louboutin outlet, burberry, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, nike air max, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet, louboutin, replica watches, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, nike free, burberry outlet online, gucci outlet, nike outlet, chanel handbags, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, uggs on sale, louis vuitton, michael kors, michael kors outlet, ray ban sunglasses, jordan shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, ugg boots, louis vuitton outlet, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin outlet, louboutin shoes, tiffany and co, oakley sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet

ninest123 said...

burberry, hollister pas cher, hollister, nike blazer, lacoste pas cher, air force, michael kors, nike free run uk, north face, true religion outlet, hermes, nike huarache, true religion jeans, new balance pas cher, north face, air max, true religion jeans, nike air max, longchamp, louboutin pas cher, vans pas cher, nike trainers, mulberry, nike air max, true religion jeans, nike air max, replica handbags, michael kors, nike free, sac guess, michael kors, ray ban uk, vanessa bruno, ray ban pas cher, ralph lauren uk, abercrombie and fitch, oakley pas cher, tn pas cher, michael kors, timberland, ralph lauren pas cher, sac longchamp, lululemon, nike roshe, coach purses, nike roshe run, air jordan pas cher, converse pas cher, hogan, longchamp pas cher, coach outlet

ninest123 said...

iphone 5s cases, oakley, nike air max, p90x workout, mont blanc, iphone 6s cases, nfl jerseys, converse, giuseppe zanotti, mac cosmetics, jimmy choo shoes, herve leger, instyler, timberland boots, hollister, s5 cases, iphone 6s plus cases, insanity workout, north face outlet, babyliss, mcm handbags, chi flat iron, ralph lauren, vans shoes, reebok shoes, vans, celine handbags, iphone cases, ray ban, north face outlet, iphone 6 plus cases, birkin bag, nike air max, soccer jerseys, asics running shoes, beats by dre, abercrombie and fitch, iphone 6 cases, ghd, new balance, valentino shoes, bottega veneta, hollister, soccer shoes, wedding dresses, lululemon, baseball bats, louboutin, ipad cases, ferragamo shoes, gucci, nike roshe

ninest123 said...

juicy couture outlet, canada goose, hollister, moncler, ugg boots uk, lancel, marc jacobs, moncler, juicy couture outlet, links of london, swarovski, pandora jewelry, barbour, moncler, montre pas cher, louis vuitton, canada goose, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, moncler outlet, canada goose uk, wedding dresses, canada goose outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, coach outlet, canada goose, pandora jewelry, moncler, ugg pas cher, replica watches, louis vuitton, toms shoes, louis vuitton, pandora charms, converse outlet, karen millen, moncler, supra shoes, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton pas cher, doudoune canada goose, barbour jackets, moncler, thomas sabo, doke gabbana outlet, canada goose outlet, bottes ugg, canada goose, moncler
ninest123 16.01

林磊 said...

2016-3-17 leilei
hermes outlet
hermes belt
lululemon outlet
cheap basketball shoes
kate spade outlet online
fitflops outlet
ray ban outlet
coach outlet store
ugg sale
michael kors
coach outlet store online
toms shoes
coach outlet online
toms outlet
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors
ture religion outlet
cheap ray bans
christian louboutin outlet
true religion jeans
michael kors outlet
polo outlet
michael kors outlet online
michael kors watches
cartier glasses
michael kors handbags
hollister clothing store
ralph lauren
ray bans
adidas superstars
canada goose uk
true religion jeans
coach factory outlet
oakley sunglasses wholesale
louboutin pas cher
coach factory outlet
michael kors outlet online
prada handbags on sale
fitflops shoes
coach outlet store online

John said...

michael kors outlet online
ugg australia
levis outlet
adidas nmd r1
true religion jeans outlet
adidas nmd runner
polo ralph lauren outlet online
oakley vault outlet store
adidas yeezy boost 350
louis vuitton bags
2016922yuanyuan

Unknown said...

hollister uk
hollister uk
uggs canada
canada goose outlet
true religion jeans
louis vuitton
cheap nhl jerseys
ugg boots
tiffany and co jewelry
cheap jordans
chanyuan11.18

raybanoutlet001 said...

polo ralph lauren outlet
fitflops
green bay packers jerseys
sac longchamp
adidas nmd
nike store
chicago bears jerseys
yeezy boost 350
chaussure louboutin pas cher
michael kors handbags

Gege Dai said...

hxy2.08
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton uk
mulberry handbags
tiffany and co
ray-ban sunglasses
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
coach outlet
ugg boots outlet
christian louboutin sale

raybanoutlet001 said...

ray ban sunglasses
michael kors handbags
nike blazer pas cher
cowboys jerseys
fitflops
toms outlet
michael kors handbags
new york knicks jersey
louis vuitton sacs
new york jets jerseys

caiyan said...

michael kors outlet online
adidas store
discount oakley sunglasses
giants jerseys
red bottom shoes for women
adidas outlet store
longchamp bags
coach outlet online
polo ralph lauren outlet
fitflops sale
0406shizhong

sarah saad said...

شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
شركة نقل اثاث بجدة
شركة نقل اثاث بمكة

Post a Comment