Looking back, the one thing everyone could agree on was how normal a day it had been.
In same way that people don’t notice their health until the get sick, no one could remember what it was like when there were shelves of Young Adult novels in the libraries and bookstores. Everyone could clearly visualize the sections as they once were – thick spines of glossy covers, tantalizing one-word titles with the promise of romance or dystopia or both! – outgrowing their allotted shelves and threatening to take over neighboring shelves. The Young Adult books even began to subdivide beneath genre headings never before seen in the world of “adult” fiction. And as they began to take over slots on the various Bestseller’s Lists, forcing the New York Times to consider a separate Book Review section devoted strictly to Young Adults books, something strange happened.
Quietly, the way the light changes when a thin cloud passes briefly, the way you suddenly notice the gradual aging in a loved one’s face, the Rapture came to Young Adult books and they simply disappeared.
Though not entirely.
As with any great societal change, the writers and artists saw it coming and prepared. Those with the most vested in the genre, the writer’s themselves, stopped identifying themselves and their writing as anything other than “fiction.” When called on the change, some even being accused of abandoning the category or of trying to distance themselves from “genre writers” in general, stood their ground with the oldest explanation in the book: they wrote what they wrote, it was up to marketing departments to determine where their books belonged. But in secret they eyed the territories of Middle Grade and Literary Fiction and pivoted their attentions.
Artists, in particular the photographers who filled countless stock photo sites with typical Young Adult images suitable for multiple use on covers, began replacing their old work with new. Topless torsos were supplanted with silhouettes free of distinct racial identifiers, or iconic images of places and things evocative of various moods, replacing figurative images altogether. Designers began cultivating styles reminiscent of eras before they were born, creating books covers with modern versions of retro graphics that lent an air of literary respectability to otherwise cringe-worthy titles. It became difficult to tell whether a book was newly published or a reprint of a contemporary of classic 20th century authors. The resulting confusion deliberately set the stage for the disappearance of Young Adult books as those that were published were confused for adult titles and “mis-shelved” accordingly.
Finally, with the price break in tablet computers making them as affordable as a cell phone, digital book sales by teen readers soared and, while reviving the few remaining old guard publishers, gutted the need for Young Adult print books altogether.
Then one day – an everyday normal day, on that everyone agrees – everyone was suddenly struck with the realization that Young Adult books had vanished overnight. They had a sudden curiosity to scan the shelves and see if there was perhaps something new to discover, only to find empty shelves and reapportioned sections where Young Adult books had been. Even the “classics” in the genre had vacated their roosts. Some were later discovered among the fiction and literature, others had gained new covers and were among those books aimed at the Middle Grade reader, and some (thankfully in far too many cases) apparently disappeared as if they had never been. Rumors that some titles were found hiding in other genres could not be verified, and in the end it was agreed, the Rapture had come to Young Adult fiction.
And the world continued on without incident. Some even said it was a better world than before.