Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Adult Appreciation

After months i've not finishing any novels, i read all three of the books in the " Hunger Games " trilogy in a week. I was a pretty voracious reader as a child/teenager but i think that may be some kind of record for me as an adult. I hadnt really heard of the " Hunger Games " until all the hype for the movie started, but after reading a few articles i'll admit the premise interested me and i promised myself i'd read at least the first one before i watched the movie. However, after starting the first one on a Saturday and finishing it Tuesday night i just couldnt wait to see what else happened so i bought the following two books and finished " Mockingjay " on Sunday morning.

Aside from the moral/ethical questions that the theme of the books throw up ( such as the usefulness of a nanny state, how many innocents lost as collateral damage is too many, and should Katniss choose Gale or Peeta? ) the other question that crossed my mind is - what exactly is considered " childrens fiction " these days? The " Hunger Games " books were, by all admissions, intended as young adult fiction. They were published by a childrens publisher even. But they certainly arent like anything i ever read as a pre-teeen and i read a damn lot. Sure, there are plenty of pre-teens/teens out there who have obviously loved and appreciated the books, but my question is can it really be considered a childrens/teen fiction if the themes are so very adult and fully grown intelligent adults can appreciate and enjoy the work? Yes, the 3 main characters are teenagers themselves, but that doesnt automatically make it a teenagers book. By that logic, " Lord of the Rings " is a Hobbits book and " Lolita " is a book solely aimed at paedophiles.

So, without being all, like, deep and stuff, i would argue that the quality of the writing has a whole lot to do with whether a childrens/young adult book will transition successfully to an adult audience. This clearly not always the case ( " Twilight " i'm talking to you - i flat out refuse to read any of those books because i read one random page in a book store and the writing wasnt, lets say, all that impressive. Plenty of grown ups out there who love them though... ). but for a series like " Hunger Games " or " Harry Potter " i think the combination of theme and quality writing would have a lot to do with it. Writing about a magical boy wizard, or a tough-as-nails teenage girl might just be enough to hold most young readers attention, but to get adults engaged i think its all in the way the story is presented. Lyrical, descriptive language, detailed passages, and the development of some kind of kinship between protagonist and reader is what draws me in.

What about you - are you a big reader? If so, have you read anything that has been considered childrens/young adult fiction and loved/appreciated as an adult?

1 comment:

  1. Yes Im a reader - bet you didn't guess that!!
    Ive read the first two books and have loved them, and I must admit I asked the same question, Im not sure Id be happy for my children to be reading these books.