With a year since the completion of the Harry Potter series, the blowout success of the Hunger Games, and the upcoming release of the final Twilight series, a reasonable question to ask of the literary world is “What’s next?”
With the completion of many popular series, both in book and movie form, now is the time for writers, particularly those in the Young Adult genre, to make their move to be the next big thing. Despite the perfect timing for a new series, there is no way anyone can truly predict the next trend; kids are even more unpredictable than adults, and ultimately it’s the kids who are responsible for introducing new series to the rest of us. But as my high school English classes have taught me, there are timeless themes in literature that, when expressed thoughtfully and in a way that resonates with readers, simultaneously entertain and teach us the lessons we secretly want to learn.
So what are these themes? What are the ingredients necessary to write a book series that garners millions of dollars, a devoted fandom, and movie deals that make everyone sick with anticipation?
Well, there are lots of themes and they tend to change slightly from series to series depending on the plot, but my personal favorite and one that is fairly consistent is Good versus Evil. Ah yes, nothing better than the timeless tale of the little man who stands for all things right in the world, rising up to defeat his antagonist who happens to be the very face of evil itself. There are probably a thousand, deep rooted, anthropological reasons why we love these tales but the best reason I can come up with is that we love these fictional stories because we want to know it’s possible for good to defeat evil in reality.
Literature pulls from reality, and if it’s good, it can offer direction when real life situations resemble fiction. For example, the tragedy in Aurora, Colo., is the result of James Holmes villainy, a diabolical and senseless event that occurred solely for evil’s sake. But, pulling from the movie playing that morning, what does Batman teach us? For every villain there’s a hero, and you don’t need super powers to be one. Evil exists because we’re flawed as humans, but as our favorite books and the most popular series teach us, evil can only be defeated if we care enough to stop it.
So if you’re looking for the next big series, it’s likely found in the tale of little man who listens to his conscience, and who may not be fearless, but does the right thing despite his fear.
Or the next big series will continue to be 50 Shades of Grey, which in that case is just about, well, you know.