Monday, January 17, 2011

A Cup of Coffee with Reggie (2) - Paranormal vs. Contemporary

A Cup of Coffee with Reggie is going to be a discussion post feature in which I discuss anything book-related. They're just normal (sometimes random) discussion posts that are named A Cup of Coffee with Reggie because it's like having a cup of coffee with me and listening (or in this case reading) my bookish opinions. It will be a random feature here at TUBL that can pop up anywhere from twice a day to twice a year. Most likely, it will be a tri-weekly post feature on my blog.

Today's Topic:

Young Adult Genres: Paranormal vs. Contemporary; what is better?

Based on what you've been seeing lately on my blog, you might have seen that I'm a little bit biased to contemporary, hence why I'm hosting the 2011 YA Contemporary Challenge. Sure, I appreciate paranormal fact, I love them! But my first love will always be contemporary young adult fiction. Some paranormal books, like The Body Finder Series, are completely amazing books with really great, fresh ideas and concepts. But paranormal books don't have the same relatability as contemporary books.

Two contemporary novels that I recently read, Like Mandarin and Other Words for Love, have really affected me and shook me to my core. I have never related to anybody more than flawed characters like Grace and Ari. Both of these characters were ordinary, yet extremely unique. I was really able to relate to their experiences because what teenage girl doesn't? Both Ari and Grace had insecurities deeply rooted into their personalities...much like us. And Ari, with her normal life, underwent the daily, everyday scenarios that we go through. We have a lot of similarities with characters from the contemporary genre; we experience what they experience, we have the same problems (romantic, familial, etc.), we have similar insecurities, and we have all been Ari or Grace one time or another in our lives. We live their lives.

That's not to say that paranormal books are really horrible, I love them! It's just that the concepts in these books get a little overdone; first it was the vampires, then the werewolves, then the angels and/or demons. There are some paranormal novels though, like Clarity, A Touch Mortal, The Body Finder, or Angelfire, in which we really relate to the characters...not the paranormal aspect of it, but the aspects and experiences they feel in normalcy. For me, the paranormal genre is mostly just contemporary added with the mystical elements. You're able to empathize with the character, but not completely. You can't fully appreciate and relate to what they're going through.

So, ultimately, I like contemporary YA better than paranormal YA...of course, there are a few exceptions.

What about you? What genre do you prefer? Tell me in the comments! I'd love to see what you think!


Izzy G. January 17, 2011 at 9:26 PM  

Like you, I prefer contemporary over paranormal. It's not so much because of whether or not I'm able to connect with the characters but because I find that often, the same themes are repeated over and over again in paranormal books. They were nice to read the first or second time (you know, like the "I love you, but we can't be together or the world will spontaneously combust" thing), but increasingly, it just feels overwrought to me. There are some paranormals, of course, that I do enjoy, and there are some I plan to read (Paranormalcy, Angelfire, Clarity, Unearthly, etc.), but in general it's a genre I avoid.

Martina Boone January 17, 2011 at 9:29 PM  

That's funny- Martina and I were just talking about this topic. I try and sprinkle in contemporaries into my reading list, but I always find that I prefer paranormal. For me, I like books that take me away from the everyday world and into something new. I love being transported to a world that I haven't imagined. While I enjoy contemporaries, I devour paranormal books. Thanks for the great discussion. I'll be curious to see the other comments!

Marissa :)

Mrs. DeRaps January 17, 2011 at 9:37 PM  

More and more, I love both. A year ago, I would said contemporary hands-down. But, as you point out, there are more and more original paranormal plots and more realistic main characters coming out. I enjoy these the most. I loved Clarity, but not necessarily for the paranormal aspect.

Bethany January 17, 2011 at 9:49 PM  

It depends. If I'm feeling serious, I love contemps. If I'm feeling bored or whatever, I love paranomals.

Lale January 17, 2011 at 10:11 PM  

I tend to prefer paranormal, because I'm a sucker for completely out-of-this-world unique ideas, which I seem to find more often in paranormal. I think I often read to get immersed in a completely different world, which contemporary often doesn't do. That said, two of my favorites of 2010 were contemporary, so I'm excited to participate in the challenge and maybe replicate that this year :) Great post!

Anonymous,  January 18, 2011 at 12:11 AM  

I can understand why people would like contemporary more, it is easier to relate to. But I mostly read books to escape the reality of life, so for me paranormal books really help me escape to a totally different world. But, every once in a while I'll read a contemporary novel to break things up. :)

Pam Harris January 18, 2011 at 1:39 AM  

I'm a HUGE fan of contemporary--that's pretty much what crowds my bookshelves. However, I recently read City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, and now I'm loving the paranormal field a bit more. I can't wait to catch up with that series!

Melissa January 18, 2011 at 2:46 AM  

I read both, but I tend to read more contemporary as well. There's nothing like reading about real life, relationships and school with no werewolf, vampire or angel popping into the equation.

Lisa Richards/alterlisa January 18, 2011 at 3:32 AM  

Definitely the paranormal and for exactly the same reasons you prefer contemporary--cause you can't relate, not completely to what they are going through. Who wants to be faced with the problems and worries that someone suffers in print if you already face them every day? Reading is suppose to be a release, an escape from what's bothering you. It's suppose to be your Calgon moments multiplied.

Jenni @ Falling Off The Shelf January 18, 2011 at 6:28 AM  

Well I'll admit that I'm more drawn the paranormal. I've always been that way, whether in young adult or adult fiction, it doesn't seem to matter much to me. I rarely pick up a contemporary novel, not because I don't like them, but because I have a hard time parting with the paranormals! I do love young adult contemporary fiction though, some of the ones I've read within the past year have really struck a cord in me. I've sat and bawled my eyes out for some of them, and will sit and encourage others to read those same books, because they are absolutely fantastic. I'd like to read more contemporary fiction, I just need to pull myself away from my current reading stack!

Great feature by the way, love it!

Monster of Books January 18, 2011 at 7:56 AM  

I prefer Paranormal, but there will be a odd time I will switch over and read contemporary.

Elisquared January 18, 2011 at 8:39 AM  

For me, paranormal and contemporary are equal for me. It really, really depends on the actual book. I've never been a girl who picks up books to read because they fall under one specific genre. But one of the best books I've read for 2011 was a contemporary novel: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. But then I have The Body Finder on my TBR list so....yeah I can't decide! lol

Anonymous,  January 18, 2011 at 8:51 AM  

Contemporary all the way! Paranormal is interesting and fun to read but there is just something about contemporary novels that speak to me. They affect me in ways that no other books can even come close to. They are in short: inspiring.

Also, characters are probably my favourite aspect of a book and I tend to find that really three dimensional well developed characters are more a trait and characteristic of contemporary novels. From my experience, Paranormal books tend to focus more on plot.

Jessica Lawlor January 18, 2011 at 11:28 AM  

Great topic! :)

I LOVE contemporary...up until recently, it was really the only genre I even read (besides chick lit). I recently tried dystopian and supernatural as part of my goal to read out of my comfort zone and I really enjoyed the books I read. Paranormal is next on my list!

Sandy January 18, 2011 at 10:35 PM  

I think I love fantasy and paranormal more, its definitely what I tend to read more I love the adventures but I have to admit every time I read a contemporary it feels like a breath of fresh air. It just makes me feel good having read a contemporary because it feels like something new, its a nice break from what I normally read and its probably because I don't read as much contemporaries. I love both really :)

Leanna Elle January 18, 2011 at 10:57 PM  

I plan on reading more contemporary YA this year. I really haven't read much of it at all. I've been firmly stuck in paranormal mode for the past while. I need to mix up my reading a little!

Kate Coombs January 25, 2011 at 11:01 PM  

As a sci-fi/fantasy fan, I like paranormal, but I'm getting a little burned out on it. Some of them are starting to seem really samey. I read less realistic fiction, but follow certain authors like Sarah Dessen. Thanks for the post!

molly (a dazzling distraction) February 7, 2011 at 12:01 AM  

First - I love this feature! I would love to have bookish coffee time with "real" people, but the blogging world makes it much easier to find people with the common interests!

I agree with you that the paranormal genre has been overdone lately, but occassionally, I really enjoy it. I do find that I like the paranormal books that are *almost* contemporary - meaning, you could almost imagine it really happening. For example, while The Body Finder is absolutely paranormal, it makes you think, "what if there really was someone with that ability?"

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