Young Adult Literature

Fandom According to YA Lit

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Jessica Yang

Staff Writer

Jessica grew up in Silicon Valley, yet somehow ended up rather inept at technology. She dreams of reading luxurious novels all day in a greenhouse, and is guilty of writing puns for money. Majoring in Japanese and English literature made her both wary and weary of the Western canon. She can be bribed with milk tea. Follow her on Twitter @jamteayang.

I’ve always been on the fringes of fandom. I keep up with the trends and hot gossip just enough to know what’s going on in that wide and wonderful world. Occasionally, I’ll partake in some quality fic to tide myself over until the next book in a series comes out (Rivers of London, I’m looking at you).

Naturally, the recent uptick in Young Adult books involving fandom and fanfiction has caught my attention. Fandom is not a monolith, and it’s certainly not devoid of problems, but it’s fascinating to see fandom portrayed through the lens of YA lit. After reading a decent handful of books centering around fandom, here’s what I’ve learned.

Fandom according to YA lit:

1. If you write fic, then you’re not like the other girls. You and your cozy sweater wearing self are at odds with the popular crowd and the party people. Some might call you ‘quirky.’ There’s a 54% chance that you’re a redhead. Hopefully, it’s not internalized misogyny.

2. You’re a BNF. That’s short for Big Name Fan. You’re a big deal in the fandom. Regular, garden variety fans are the nameless masses who adore your writing. There is no in-between.

3. Your fic is the best there ever was. It’s what made you a BNF, after all. And it’ll even get you into advanced creative writing classes! Who needs pre-requisites? Psh, mere mortals, that’s who. You rake in the kudos by the thousands.

4. Fandom has become unmoored from time. BNFs, forums, livejournals, and usernames circa 2003 intermingle with newfangled inventions such as Tumblr and livetweeting. The scent of nostalgia for ages past hangs heavy in the air.

5. There can only be one fandom. One show, and one alone, dominates the scene. It’s almost certainly about vampires, werewolves, or magic dudes in love — a clear analog for real world fandoms. So what you’re getting is fanfiction of fanfiction. Fanfiception, if you will.

6. Fanfiction is the new selfie. It’s shorthand for “this one’s a millenial.” Of course, as with selfies, people of all generations take selfies and are engaged in fandom. Humanity is complex! Your mom probably plays Pokemon GO.

7. Fandom is pretty darn cool. While fandom certainly has issues the same way media does (hello, racism!), at the end of the day, it’s a neat place to be. It’s both an outlet for creativity and a way to build community. Friendships and 30k fics are forged in the fires of the internet.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading more YA books about fandom. Someday, somewhere, I’ll find the one true book that fills the void in my heart. Until then, I’ve got AO3.