The Hunger Games series paved the road for the rise of dystopian and fantasy YA novels in recent years.
With love triangles, life-and-death situations, and dramatic settings, falling in love can be a dangerous game for these characters — and we love to sit back and enjoy the ride.
They could have used it to make the books more engaging.
This was the first evidence we had that data-driven story development could work.
Starting without setting any context, makes hooking the reader more challenging. According to our tests, teen readers are equally interested in reading a story when it has a white protagonist as when it has a brown one.
Of course, we also tested my big question: do teen readers prefer a white male protagonist over an Indian female one? Moreover, teenage boys are equally interested in stories with female protagonists as with male protagonists.
Three years ago, I was living in a small surf town in Costa Rica and writing my first novel, when I had a panic attack.
The novel was a sci-fi fantasy trilogy for young adults, set in Silicon Valley a hundred years in the future.
Now that we had some benchmarks, we were ready to play :)We ran all sorts of a/b tests, and learned many interesting things about teen reading preferences.
For example, the recent YA trend of writing in the first-person present tense is irrelevant.
We bought a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, started learning how to surf, and began writing our novel. I was terrible at surfing, and I wasn’t making progress on my book.
Something felt wrong about how we were approaching the book.
It was the desire to a/b test our book that first sparked the idea for what would eventually become Hooked.