4 Ways Edward Cullen changed the face of YA
Love him or hate him, you have to admit that YA would be different without Edward around. And I don’t mean the obvious– good vampires, animal killing vegetarians, and undead that sparkle– I mean YA boys would be different. For better or for worse, Edward Cullen changed the face of YA.
Do you remember the heroes of the 2004 bestselling YA books? Don’t worry, neither do I. I doubt anyone does. Why is that? Because they were saccharinely sweet, extremely predictable, and 100% straight laced.
Don’t believe me? Take a look back at some of the bestselling YA at that time: Sisterhood of the travelling pants, Harry Potter (more middle grade than YA, but you get the point), Eragon, Inkheart, and the Abhorson series. If these novels even had a love interest he was sturdy, dependable and wore his heart on his sleeve. Additionally, you knew who the love interest would be from the very beginning. Even if the book kept you on your toes, you likely weren’t surprised by how the mating dance worked out.
Then along came Edward.
- Heroes no longer had to be totally good.
Edward was a blood-sucking vampire, and yet in the first book, we rooted for him. We knew he wanted to eat the main character, he stared at her viciously when they first met, but we were intrigued. This was totally different from the all-consuming love at first sight that normally gripped our heroes. This was different. This was deadly, but for some scary reason, people loved it.
- The love interest is no longer always apparent
Sometimes the love interest comes from left field. In Amanda Hocking’s the guy she ends up with is so random that he wasn’t even in the first book. The same with Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series. In New moon, Edward takes a break. He is gone for most of the duration of the book. During his absence a lot of readers fell in love with a totally different character– the loyal, the dependable Jacob. No one was sure who she would pick which brings us to point three: the love triangle.
- A love triangle became all the rave.
Nowadays, I can barely read a newspaper without the journalist trying to incorporate a love triangle. The other day, I saw the enquirer have The Obama’s in a love triangle with Hillary Clinton (Really?). And they’re not the only ones. Pick up a YA book and you’ll often find a love triangle, sometimes even a love heptagon, oozing out the pages.
But most importantly…
Edward’s mysterious and deadly personality made him the ultimate bad boy. Before Edward, book characters had a lot in common with God; they could do no wrong. Writing a hero was a lot like constructing a character for Leave it to Beaver, the character made mistakes, but ultimately their wild side wasn’t very wild. Edward, however was like the new Fonzi. He was a bad boy, danger personified, everything we’ve come to love about YA.
You might hate Edward Cullen and the whole Twilight craze, but the YA books you read exist the way they do because of them. Happy Reading.
Folami Morris is the co-author of The Exemeus, A young adult novel about two teens trapped in different times, fighting the same evil force. She blogs about YA writing, amazing giveaways, bad dates and her upcoming sequel at http://theexemeus.blogspot.com.