Looking at ’90s and ’00s Young Adult Fiction: How Far Have We Come, Really?

A curious look into the 90s!

Comparing 1990s 2000s Young Adult Fiction: What's the Difference?

Nowadays young adult fiction has become an important part of the literary world, from notable movie adaptions to huge YouTube communities the popularity of YA has drastically increased over the years. But let’s turn back our clocks and see what young adult books were like almost 20 years ago.

The first Chosen One…

There was a time in YA when every other book had the “chosen-one-to-fulfill-the-prophecy” trope before people started to scowl every time they saw it. And you will not be surprised to know, all of this started with Harry Potter. Sure, Harry was not the first chosen one ever, but this teenage hero was the first one of note, charged with the destiny to destroy the dark lord. With the first book written in 1997 and the movies spanning a decade with huge commercial success, Harry Potter was probably the reason we got so many teenage chosen ones to save us from a terrible evil.

Comparing 1990s 2000s Young Adult Fiction: Harry Potter series

Paranormal epidemic

In 2005, Twilight came and made vampire romance a thing and set off an epidemic of horrible vampire novels, that still continue to plague us. But vampirism was also the hot topic in the 90s, The Vampire Diaries being one of its products. And not only was vampirism a running theme, the 90s focused on the paranormal genre a bit too much, witches and ghosts were the norm, and horror was all the rage.

You’d think that love triangles, jerks for love interests, and a suitor from the dark side were a curse of today’s YA literature, but it might be the 90s that really got it off the ground.

With heroines behaving no differently than they do today, and if you didn’t know the publication date you would definitely think it is a modern novel.

Comparing 1990s 2000s Young Adult Fiction: Twilight vs. Vampire Diaries

Some old, but what’s new?

Unlike the paranormal genre, the 90s fantasy game was strong, unique, and unforgettable. Books like, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Sabriel, and Stardust are stories that keep resurfacing and can be enjoyed in any era.

A lot of what we read today was also in the ’90s, showing that not much has changed in all these years. Part of their timelessness could be because these famous pieces of work have been adapted into either movies or TV series today, making the old new again.

Or it could be that the authors of today grew up reading and enjoying these stories, and want to give a similar experience to the next generation.

Whatever the reason may be, it is clear that not much has changed between the YA of the ’90s and 2010s. The only area that YA has truly revolutionized is recognizing the mental and emotional issues today’s teens face. Although the 90s were not completely devoid of acknowledging this fact of life it wasn’t a popular theme of the time. With teens facing more social problems than ever before, young readers need a positive role model they can relate to and 2010s YA offers them that solace.

What is the ’90s series you think stands the test of time?

Tell us in the comments below!

Sara Shoukat
the authorSara Shoukat
Sara is a nocturnal creature who will be a student of psychology this year. When she is not reading, she is binge watching Gilmore Girls. And when she is not doing that she is contemplating her fascination with the dark side.