Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Why is the YA Thriller/Spy genre underrated and underdeveloped?

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Disclaimer: So this past weekend was my birthday and I may have taken a day or two off. Sorry guys! But here is a discussion post that will make up for my silence this weekend! And yes, I am now 25. SAY WHAT?!

It is time I talk about a very important topic… and that important topic is Why is the YA Thriller/Spy genre underrated and underdeveloped? In other words, Why is it not as BIG as other YA sub-genres?

Think about this. You walk into a bookstore and beeline directly to the YA section. You see YA fantasy, YA paranormal, YA contemporary, YA dystopian, etc., but you don’t see a special section dedicated to the YA thriller/spy novels. Why is that?

First, we all know that there aren’t many YA spy/thriller novels out there to begin with. If we think long and hard about YA authors writing books for this specific sub-genre, there aren’t many. We have Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ally Carter, Abby McDonald, and Lauren Oliver. But if you try to think even harder, you may come up empty-handed like I do.

I’m a big fan of the spy/thriller genre. I love me a good spy/con-man story that has you constantly at the edge of your seat. And the thing is those novels are not badly written, they are good, but why are they not as big as others from other sub-genres?

It just makes me sad that not many authors explore this sub-genre as much and that might be part of the problem. There are only a few household names when we think of the Thriller/Spy sub-genre.

I personally think it is because not many people want to take the risk of writing a thriller/spy/con man novel without the paranormal or fantasy element. It is much easier to go down the route many have gone than one that many have not passed through.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with me? Are there more YA thriller/spy novels out there that I haven’t discovered yet?

Talk to me! I want to know what you guys think!

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4 thoughts on “ContempConvos: Why is the YA Thriller/Spy genre underrated and underdeveloped?”

  1. Happy 25th Birthday!

    This is an interesting topic, btw. I used to love Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys growing up and that’s mostly kiddie detective stories, but in truth, this is a genre that I hardly read at all. I don’t have anything against this genre, but when I picked up Robert Ludlum, my eyes glazed over all the techy terms. I love watching movies in this genre tho.

    Maybe the reason why this is not a popular YA genre is because it’s a little bit impossible for teens to be spies IRL? Again, I’m not really familiar with this YA genre in itself without the paranormal elements so I don’t exactly know how the books are written.

    I did read one urban paranormal that had 16-17 year old assassins and I did raise my eyebrow at that. 😊

    1. I understand that it may be a little impossible for teens to be spies, but when you look at popular YA fantasy books (yes I”m going with the Throne of Glass series), the characters are also in their teens… so having supernaturals abilities makes it okay for them to be good spies/assassins?

      That’s the point I’m kind of trying to make. 🙂

      But I do agree that if they start using too much technical writing, even I start to back off and I love this genre. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      1. I think it’s a double standard for me personally because of the setting? I’m not entirely sure but I think because of that, I feel that it’s highly possible that younger teens are assassins/spies…but then when I look at our world today….I still can’t picture it. That’s just me… even though I know you can enlist for the military at age 17.

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