Thursday, February 27, 2014

Genre Overload: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Five and a half years ago, I picked up a lovely little book called Twilight (highly obscure title...I'm sure none of you have heard of it). Prior to that time, my fiction reading was strictly limited to contemporary and historical fiction with the occasional fantasy thrown in. Vampires were never invited to cross my threshold. And apart from Lupin, I knew nothing of werewolves. Witches and wizards...they were okay in moderation.

In my post Twilight high, I sucked up every YA paranormal fantasy I could find. I read it all - the good and the bad (and for you Twilight haters, there are paranormal fantasies worse that make Twilight look like Pulitzer quality literature in comparison). I wasn't picky.


My tastes became a little more discerning over time. I didn't have specific categories of paranormals I liked and didn't like, but I didn't immediately pick up a YA paranormal. By 2012 and 2013, I still read paranormal, but it was mixed in with other kinds of books.

Fast forward to 2014 and suddenly the thought of YA paranormal turns my stomach. Objectively, I know there are wonderful paranormal novels, but all I can think about are insta-love, love triangles, and Romeo & Juliet lovers who are universally TSTL. It's even turned me off to titles I am excited about - like Laini Taylor's last book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

Right now I just want to read contemporary YA fiction with the occasional jump to sci fi or high fantasy. This saddens me, because I hate flatly excluding any genre (especially now that I'm finally getting into sci fi and mysteries, the only two genres I have consistently disliked as an adult). I'm even a little turned off by YA in general. I'm still reading lots of YA, but I'm reading more adult fiction as well (I'm reading The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion right now. It's fabulous so far). That's not necessarily a bad thing. I like having a better balance between adult and YA than I've had in the past.

Still, I miss feeling excited about YA paranormal. Mostly I dislike feeling that a genre is closed off to me.

Have you ever had genre overload? How have you combated it?

19 comments :

  1. I hear what you're saying Alison. I think that reading a certain book for the first time, one that really just 'clicks' with me, produces within me a special feeling that I try to recreate over time by reading other similar, books. I think this may be true for other readers. The trouble with this day and age is that publisher are eager to exploit whatever is popular until it has been done to death--just look at how much YA dystopian has been published since The Hunger Games. After a while, all of the books just feel a bit sameish (regardless of how well written they are,) and I get bored.

    I hope you don't truly feel that the genre is closed to you, though. Sometimes a bit of time and distance and then a really good book from that genre is all you need to remind yourself how great that genre actually was. In the meantime though, I'd definitely recommend discovering as many new authors and genres as you can, to see what appeals to you.

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  2. I often feel the same way, although I don't usually go to the extreme of excluding one genre entirely. I tend to go through phases where I will read many books of a certain genre - sci-fi, for example - and then I won't read any for two months. I've just come out of a contemporary phase, and I seem to be falling into a historical one at the moment.

    I do, however, have the same problem as you do with paranormal, only with dystopian. I don't mind it if there's other things thrown in, like supernatural powers or science fiction, or anything like that, but a straight dystopian rarely appeals to me any more. They all feel the same after The Hunger Games and Divergent, unfortunately!

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  3. I've been trying to mix up genres for just his reason.

    Right now I'm burned out on the contemporaries. All the angst! lol

    I've been craving a good PNR to read but I'm not sure that exist. Not that it's not good - but that it's not original in any way & I'm looking for the paranormal element but without ally he boring tropes.

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  4. That's why I need palate cleansers. I tend to binge a genre and then get tired of it...until I need another of that genre again. It's a problem.

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  5. I completely understand. It's never happened to me with books, but I always try to read from different genres (even if lately they're all within the YA genre) so I don't get tired of the one!

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  6. While I've never quite overloaded on paranormal YA, it's still my genre of choice, I've definitely done so on NA and for a while there needed to pick up anything but that genre. I've definitely been gravitating toward YA fantasy lately as well, that used to be a genre I stayed away from, but I can't get enough of it now and it's such a nice break from my standard paranormal reads as well that my excitement remains high for both.

    Maybe once you take an extended break from it and give yourself some new types of books to experience, that old love will come creeping back in:)

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  7. I go through burn outs with genres all of the time. Maybe paranormal YA will call to you after you have a break from it. :)

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  8. I go through the same phases. I got sucked into the paranormal genre a few years ago and devoured everything on it. Then I got on the new adult contemporary romance bandwagon. Now, the thought of either has been a turn off lately.

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  9. I have found like you that yes I do get tired reading a certain genre of book, but I also have to mix it up with reading adult and YA. I have also found that my reading tastes have changed too because I am now reading Fantasy and still love the Urban Fantasy. I also think that reading all the cliques have burned me out with the paranormal. So yes I have been there :)

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  10. It's happened to me & haven't even read a third of what you've read I'm sure. After reading the Existence Trilogy by Abbi Glides there was an excerpt of her book While It Lasts and I was immediately hooked to NA/Contemporary Romance & I read her whole series and her Fallen Too Far series which I loved all of her series I've read till this day. So now all I read are NA/CR and I can't stand werewolves and vampires especially in one book or I will most likely throw up. I like reading about things that can actually happen with romance thrown in there cause that's important, haha. Angels I don't mind cause they're kinda normal and don't look different than us. I just read Hush Hush and liked it. It wasn't bad.So yeah, been there done that & don't wanna go back cause I'm perfectly happy where I'm at now :)

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  11. Yup, happens to me a few times a month. So I end up circulating genres. 3-4 months I'll read primarily, fantasy, the switch to sci-fi- paranormal, etc. And in between I'll through in a romance and ya contemporary. My tolerance for those last two is very low, hence just the occasional book in between the rest lol.

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  12. I definitely understand genre overload. I tend to read a lot of YA paranormal, and then I need to take a break and read other stuff because the books start to bleed together.

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  13. I read almost nothing but historical and classic world literature, though I know I need to read a little more outside my long-established literary loves. I like sci-fi, though I don't read it often enough, and I usually enjoy mysteries.

    Though it's not something I'd seek out, just the words "YA paranormal romance" make my eyes glaze over. It won't interest me unless there's some really new angle or plotline, or a different creature than normal. And unless your Vampyre is acting like a real Vampyre (not a sparkly high school boy), and there's a really different angle, I probably won't want to read a Vampyre book either.

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  14. I think yes... sometimes I get burnt out. Then if I read a book in that genre and don't realize I am burnt out I am more harsh in my review of that book. This is why I usually read a book, read a bunch of graphic novels and then read a book. That graphic novels help me read something new and then jump back into a novel.

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  15. Your post jumped out at me when I logged into my blog, so I felt I had to respond. Like everyone else, I've also felt that "genre overload" from time to time. So I take the all things in moderation approach to reading. A little sic-fi here, some mystery there, a good dose of New Adult, a healthy mix of YA, and so on. It helps. The most important part, I feel, is to never stop finding something new to read in as many genres as possible. Also, as a writer, I try not to focus on the genre but on the story I want to tell.

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  16. If you want to get back into paranormal, try Urban Fantasy.

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  17. I feel similarly about YA dystopian. While there are some wonderful dystopian books out there that I would eventually like to read, I am not actively seeking those books any more and am trying to get a better mix of genres into my TBR pile.

    Hopefully after taking a break from this genre, you can someday pick it back up again, or at least enjoy a paranormal once in a while.Happy reading!

    Amanda
    http://amandasnoseinabook.wordpress.com/

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  18. I don't read the same genre anymore. I pretty much read everything and do my best to switch it up. Too much of one genre does get boring That is partly why I'm not reading NA as much. I still find a few that I adore but all the books put out are all the same....it's boring.

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  19. I feel you! I think for me it's less that I'm not interested in reading those books and more than I'm dissatisfied with the quality of books that have been published recently in that genre. It seems like publishers grabbed onto the popularity of a few books (Twilight, The Hunger Games) and then churned out any manuscript that fit the bill, regardless of quality.

    It feels like so many are the same story, dully rehashed and sloppily written. Even ones that seem promising put me off because I'm weary of getting lured in by something that SEEMS like it will be different, only to try it and realize it's the same recycled plots with the same cardboardy characters all wrapped up in abysmal writing. At this point, I'm once bitten, twice shy.

    Give me a guaranteed well-written, original YA paranormal and I'd be all over that.

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