There's an interesting discussion at The New York Times about the trend toward darkness in YA fiction. Why are teens so interested in civilizations gone horribly wrong, in the remnants of destroyed worlds? Why are they so fascinated by vampires as to make the creatures eye-rollingly ubiquitous lately?
Well, my first response is that many teens aren't. I see plenty of customers who want fiction that's more like their lives, or who want fantasy that's not quite so gloomy. One customer picked up Jennifer Donnelly's much-lauded time travel story Revolution and implored, "It doesn't have any vampires, does it?" Trends are trends, but for every Thing that's Everywhere, there are people in search of something different.
That said, the doom-and-gloom stuff is indisputably popular among teens, and that's hardly unique to the past few years. The Times discussion raised some good points about escapism and about working out things that are "dark" in the real world. But I think sometimes it's simpler than that. Sometimes, teens just really want to feel that they've moved beyond the elementary material. And when you get right down to it, reading is probably one of the better ways to feel badass.