ABB link-up: novel trends

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 Permalink

** The second of the Aussie Book Bloggers’ LinkUps **

I missed the book Gone Girl  when it first came out. Naturally I heard about it, but for some reason I only got around to reading it this year – two years after its release.

Given its popularity, publicists around the world seem to have taken to promoting other novels – almost anything involving a big reveal, unexpected twists or *ahem* challenging relationships – as Gone Girl  replicants.

By the time I read Gone Girl  I found it a HUGE anticlimax. In fact, one of its supposed derivatives – Sabine Durrant’s Under Your Skin – rendered the Gone Girl twist kinda boring. So it occurred to me that Gone Girl – like other novels before it – set a precedent or started a trend.

Many crime fiction / suspense novelists followed by inserting as many twists and turns as they possibly could as a result. I read A LOT of crime fiction / mysteries. In fact I read so many which often touch on similar issues I get confused as to what I have or haven’t read. Disappearing spouses, disappearing memories, disappearing children. They all seem to be common themes.

As a non-fantasy genre-lover I have no idea if novels about vampires and werewolves and the like were really a ‘thing’ before the likes of Twilight and The Southern Mystery Vampire Books. Suddenly they were everywhere. I was half wondering if Enid Blyton’s collection would be rewritten to include the odd vampire or two. Or perhaps a witch or zombie. Just to be as inclusive as possible. 😉

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I mentioned recently that fellow book-blogger Bec talked about a trend in the narrator’s voice.

Voice is all-important to me in a novel and some of my favourite books feature a different or unusual voice*. Room  is told from the viewpoint of a child; Lost & Found  from two elderly people and a child; and Elizabeth is Missing  from the point of view of an elderly woman with dementia. While this feels a bit new, some ‘could’ say books from a child’s point of view are To Kill A Mockingbird  wannabes.

This issue of derivatives or trends in novels and creative pursuits is something that perplexes me a little. I get frustrated – for example – with constant television or movie remakes. I mean, have we all bloody run out of ideas FFS?!

However, at the same time I can see the advantage of jumping on someone else’s popular bandwagon to make the most of an opportunity. Indeed, I’ve seen some publishers’ upcoming titles and it’s pretty clear that quitting sugar and paleo diet books will be around for a while yet.

Similarly I can imagine that there are writers of fantasy fiction who are frustrated at its trendiness. They must worry they’ll be seen as derivative fly-by-nighters when it’s perhaps been their passion all along.

I suspect there’s a fine line between following a trend and ‘selling out’ to make the most of an opportunity. And I suspect a writer knows when they’ve crossed that line. Perhaps readers can recognise the lack of authenticity as well. I’m not sure.

Do you believe there’s a difference being following a trend and being (too) derivative?
What book-related trends are you noticing?

Next Thursday’s #ABBLinkUp topic comes from Suz and is more about the process of book blogging and reviewing – which is a fabulous idea. She would love to discuss ‘how’ we organise our reading and book blogging/reviewing. Do you work to publication dates? Do you only review new releases? Do you take notes as you read and write your review as soon as you’ve finished reading? Do you schedule your reviews or posts in advance? It’d be great to share tips and tricks in any posts as well as any challenges we face. 


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