Are Trendy Sub-Genres Losing Their Appeal?

Posted by texmexexpress on September 13, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Ah, I love a good dystopian novel, a sophisticated murder mystery, a science fiction noir story, maybe a disturbing psychotic thriller, and of course the ever-growing popular post-apocalyptic sub-genre that has everyone stirring with anticipated excitement, especially zombies. Walking Dead, you kick ass. But is it enough to just pick up the first book you see with an attractive cover so enticing that it somehow manages to lure you into a world of disappointment? All genres do this, but none more than today’s most talked about, read about, or even filmed about through Hollywood’s terribly scripted storylines—The Apocalypse. Hey, doesn’t everyone like a good disaster? The idocracy of Americans tune in seven nights a week to it with “reality tv.” Sorry, I’m not one of them, unless it’s Duck Dynasty. Hey, I can indulge in a little guilty pleasure too.

While television and film have had their fingerprint in the ever popular sub-genre, it’s books that got them there, and we as authors should be demanding better than what’s out there. But it starts with us. We are the creators and the imagination behind the scenes, and it should be no surprise that novels hold much more weight to them on paper than they do in film and tv. So what has happened? Are stories becoming watered down and regurgitated? It’s quite simple really.

There are just too many post-apocalyptic novels out there being churned out by the thousands detailing the end of the world and hoping that readers haven't gotten tired of it yet—I'm one of them. Most are riding the wave of this never-ending cultural phenomenon, and it has proven to be quite successful for some. But no matter how the stories are told, we still end up anticipating the same plot twists and an ending that's…well, not so much of a surprise. It's not the story that drives us to read them, but rather the little things in between that capture our attention. If there is no purpose to the plot other than to entertain, which is absolutely fine sometimes, then it becomes all too common and unfulfilling.

World War Z , which was an excellent read, did enough to change our perspective about the common zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately authors have been riding the coattails of Max Brooks’ masterpiece, desperately trying to recreate his novel as their own. It’s become regurgitated drivel and washed-out entertainment. Great novels shouldn't be duplicated. That goes for Harry Potter knockoffs, watered-down Twilight clones, and the…ahem, occasional Fifty Shades of Grey Imitators. Oh, and in addition, if I see another vampire-sucking teenager gracing the cover of a paperback, I think I will slowly carve out my eye with a rusty steak knife. Enough with the soap opera with fangs already.

Though these genres are entertaining and attractive to a large demographic, let’s not patronize them for the sake of trend. We should approach them with a little originality, and while I know it can be difficult to create something different within a popular sub-genre, it can also be fun exploring new ways to excite readers. Just because the originators of such great novels became rich and famous doesn’t necessarily translate to the copycats to follow suite.


Categories: Writing

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