Time loops in young adult fiction




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Narratives involving some form of time manipulation have fascinated humans for ages. From the incredibly popular and long-running series Doctor Who (since 1963) to Groundhog Day (1993) and The Time Traveler s Wife (2003), no matter if the story is about time travel, alternative timelines, or time loops, rethinking and exploring time in fiction has never gone out of style. It is therefore not surprising that these narratives usually found in the science fiction or fantasy genres have recently found their way into one of the most popular literary genres of the twenty-first century: young adult fiction. This thesis seeks to explore how the mechanic of a time loop acts inside young adult fiction. To achieve this, we will first take a look at time loops on the mechanical level and examine the different ways in which a time loop begins, ends, and resets. In this basic mechanic, I make the distinction between time-based and event-based time loops, which are categorized by the trigger of the looping itself and show similarities to other popular media such as theater and video games. After introducing and explaining these aspects of a time loop mechanic, we will use three recently published young adult novels involving time loops and examine the time loops within these narratives according to these aspects. The novels chosen for this examination are Lauren Oliver s Before I Fall (2010), Jessica Brody s A Week of Mondays (2016), and Marisha Pessl s Neverworld Wake (2018). After examining the three chosen works on the time loop level, I will analyze their narrative perspectives using categories established by Gérard Genette and show how these narrative choices shape the way the story is experienced by the reader. In the following part of my thesis I will argue that time loop narratives in the genre of young adult fiction are incredibly successful narratives because the time loop mechanic acts as a catalyst for the building and changing of identity. The mostly young adult readers of these stories have an easier time relating to the teenage protagonists in these stories, which facilitates identification and can lead to a higher level of immersion while reading. Typically, young adulthood is seen as a phase of exploring, building, and changing identity, during which the young adult is trying to find their place within society, family, and their peer groups. I will show that the addition of a time loop mechanic in these stories accelerates this phase of identity change, which is usually seen as a long-term process that occurs mainly during specific parts of the lifespan (Schwartz 2012: 10) and examine the accelerated identity change that the protagonists in the works by Oliver, Brody, and Pessl undergo.




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