Genre Conventions in Angel Lit

You might be sick of hearing about Angel-lit from me at the moment. Only, it’s such a broad topic that it’s taken me several weeks to say everything I wanted to say. If you’ve stuck with me this long THANK YOU! Next week I promise to not post about Fallen Angels or Demons; well I’m planning on talking about Ghostbusters so there may be a few mentions of Demons.

While I was studying Angel Lit at Uni I needed to identify the genre conventions that defined Angel Lit. Some of these are synonymous with YAUF (Young Adult Urban Fantasy) because the majority of the books I’ve read in the genre were YA books.

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So here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

  • All of the books I’ve read have a female protagonist.
  • All of these protagonists are around the age of 16 at the beginning of their stories (these books are usually a series so they generally age throughout the books but they usually start their journey at 16)
  • All the protagonists are either Nephilim or an Angel.
  • All the books I’ve read, except for the Mercy series, are set in modern day USA, and even the initial Mercy book is set in the USA.
  • The love interest is a Fallen Angel/Demon OR Nephilim and there is a love triangle wherein one love interest is Fallen/Demonic/Nephilim and the other is Human.
  • All of the YA books are set in high school (unsurprising considering most of the protagonists are 16)
  • All the female protagonists embody Lilith or Eve traits, except Luce in Fallen who starts her journey as an Eve archetype and ends its having transformed into a Lilith archetype. (See last week’s post for more information about these archetypes.)
  • Many of them deal with some form of reincarnation theme.
  • In some of them the protagonist acts as a sort of psychopomp. (In Meridian the titular character is a portal to the afterlife and in The Coming Dark the main character can create a portal to Hell).
  • There is always a band of Demons/Fallen Angels or some form of Demon hunter hunting whatever the main character is.
  • The protagonist has to hide her identity as a Nephilim/Angel from most everyone for her own protection.
  • There is always at least one absentee parent, if not then the character is usually an orphan. The exception being Luce in Fallen and her parents are absent because they have sent her to a boarding school. Parental guidance is not a huge factor in these stories.
  • Dreams are important in the story because the protagonist communicates with spirits or sees visions of the future in her dreams.
  • These stories tend to start out in a suburban landscape and move into a more rural location.
  • Major Fallen Angels/Demons such as Lucifer, Samyaza and Azazel play a significant background role.
  • The histories provided in the stories use either The Fall of Lucifer or the tale of The Watchers as motivations for the conflict embedded in the story.

I found a lot of these characteristics common to the YAUF genre, especially the sub genres dealing with vampires, werewolves and witches. Elements such as absentee parents, the journey from urban to rural landscapes, dream visions, and human/non human love triangles are prevalent in YAUF and tend to sell well to their target audience. Perhaps the angst and conflict in these tales mirrors that felt by YA readers and this is part of their appeal? If that is true then perhaps the sins of the Angels in the genre provide solace for their readers. If literary Fallen Angels and Demons can be redeemed then it gives hope to YA readers who may feel that the mistakes they make cannot be so bad and that they too can be forgiven. I remember when I was a teenager mistakes always felt worse than they actually were and books were an escape.

Next week I want to talk about how 80s pop culture movies have changed for me (because not everything in my life is literary, and my down time is usually crochet and Netflix XD), and why movies I loved as a kid I now watch and cringe.

Got any recommendations for Angel Lit books for me to read? Wanna talk about Angel Lit books? Comment below. I’d love to talk to you about it.

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