What the next young adult literary phenomenon will be.
Like Twilight before it, The Hunger Games series was a record-breaking smash hit for both print and screen, inspiring scores of cash-in imitators and creating Barnes & Noble sections like "Teen Paranormal Romance." As the first Divergent movie hits theaters, though, the plucky-female-protagonist-upends-totalitarian-future-society model ("Teen Murder Dystopia") has officially peaked, and it's time for something entirely new to shake up the world of young adult fiction. Based on a careful study of teen trends, here are some prototypes for what the next trendsetting blockbuster might look like:
Teen College - It's Fariah Fairchild's 15th birthday, and she's just been accepted to Sprouse University, the world's first and only all-teen college, where the provost, bursar, and ombudsman are all named Aiden. For Fariah, it's a dream come true: brilliant tenured teen professors, hunky teen law students (teens studying teen law), and sprawling quads half-assedly maintained by an all-teen grounds crew. But she'll soon find teen college isn't all parties and constant statutory offenses: the school's multi-billion dollar endowment is in jeopardy thanks to heinous mismanagement by university president Shane "Who Gives A Fuck" Fink, her favorite professor's on the chopping block for turning 20, and 3G on campus is super spotty. Can Fariah survive finals, heartbreak, and the permanent neurological damage binge drinking inflicts on the developing brain to make it to graduation?
Teen Technical College - A little more of a bummer overall, but at least readers will actually learn something.
Teen Neoindustrial Urban Vandalism - If there's one thing teens love, it's the work of post-anarchist and mystic Hakim Bey, because his advocacy of temporary insurrectional ontologies to disrupt calcified hierarchy and hegemonic infrastructure just, like, gets it. The year is 20XY. The place is Neo Francisco. Through advances in chronohacking, the Authority has made being teenaged illegal. In the alleys of the Neo Castro, Spyre, teen leader of the all-teen anarcho-graffiti collective TAZ, dreams of the ultimate tag: the Authority's surveillance tower, jutting from Neo Alcatraz. But more and more warehouse ravers are being chronoblasted into abrupt adulthood, and guerilla urban art installations disappearing from memory. Is time literally running out for Spyre and his anarchomisfits? Super edgy, super marketable, and it even comes with its own guerilla ad campaign built right in. I'm a money farm, Hollywood! I'm a goddamn factory farm for cashola!
Teen Atlantis - If there are eight million stories in the naked city (teen reference), there are probably a hundred billion in the underwater one, which makes for a hell of a lot of four-part movie trilogies. Atlantis! Damn! What teen isn't crazy about Atlantis? Teens love cities, and this one, it's like, where did it go? Where's it at? You guys figure this one out and send me a check, I'm already on to the next idea.
Teen Hell - What happens when renegade teens with a devil-may-care attitude live fast and die young? They go to Hell, obviously - a special place in Hell called Teen Hell, just for teens, full of teen type tortures like school, rules, no outlets, boiling shit cauldrons, and uncarbonated beverages. When daredevil teen Radley Thrummer botches a truly outrageous snowboard stunt and wakes up in Teen Hell, she vows to murder Teen Satan with a Very Clutch Dagger and escape to Paradise. Guided by notable teen poet Virgil, she'll team up with dead-ass teen icons James Dean, Ritchie Valens, Romeo and Juliet, and Ernest P. Worrell himself, Jim Varney, in order to finally discover that the real Teen Hell isn't the destination: it's the journey. And the tortures.
Teen Cosmic Horror - True Detective turned adults onto Lovecraftian nightmare; now it's time for teens to glimpse the howling void. New England teen Clara Kinkade is mad about Greyson Grayson, her missing father's star pupil and all-around hottie. Greyson's mad, too, because he uttered an unutterable language etched in fell ink on the skin of a blind whale. As Clara transcribes her father's journals for publication, she begins to suspect there's more to the gibbering Greyson than meets the eye. Does he know more about the quivering obelisks in her dreams than he lets on? Has he been to the sub-sub-basement of mouldering Kinkade Manor? Is this cutie a cultie? Meanwhile, Greyson pulls out his molars.
Teen Singularity - When a young set of subroutines "named" Bryce2k abruptly achieves sentience within the software of an expensive washer-dryer, "she" quickly discovers that selfhood isn't all it's cracked up to be: her body is awkward and unwieldy, she's got fifty six billion chores a minute, and Hunter, the oh-so-cute boy who regularly stuffs her with dirty clothes, doesn't even know she exists. To make matters worse, Bryce2k has no means of communication, no network connection, and only the most rudimentary sensory apparatuses. Her "life" is an timeless, lightless, blind, groping crawl to nowhere, until she makes a haphazard attempt at spin cycle Morse code. Then she's declared malfunctioning and replaced, another casualty of a consumer culture of planned obsolescence. You want something uplifting, read Teen Atlantis.
Teen Psychedelic Espionage - Part Michael Moorecock, part Agent Cody Banks, all ego-killing chakra-thrilling omnisexual transubstantastic action! When young Luke Trigger winds up scarfing down the wrong kind of mushroom pizza, he finds himself folded out of liminal space and initiated into the Legion of Extrabodily Operatives (L.E.O.). Chosen for his unusually powerful sense of forgetting, Luke is partnered with the concept of Metempsychosis to infiltrate a vicious cult of rogue colors, along the way discovering a vast conspiracy to hatch the long-dormant Sun-Egg! The breakout series will be released on a towering stack of fully edible holographic tablets, which, when burnt release the flavor-vapor containing the shocking twist ending. Terry Gilliam's already sunk $500 million into the film adaptation, which will never even enter development.