I am fascinated by popular culture. This is my only excuse for the rubbish I’ve been reading lately.
Recently, I’ve noticed certain bloggers enthusing about the Hunger Games books and movie. Initially, I ignored it, as I thought the ghastly experience of reading every single one of the Stephanie Meyers books had cured me of going anywhere near teen fantasy for life. But then it kept coming up at the top of the Amazon list, and I kept reading about how brilliant those bloggers think it is, and eventually, I buckled under the pressure.
I downloaded the books on the day before departing on holiday, but resisted actually reading them until the trip home. The movie was available on the in-flight entertainment system, so I read the first book during a ten hour layover in Dubai, so that I could watch the movie during my final flight.
What rubbish! From reading the reviews, I thought I would be reading a dark dystopian novel exploring the effects of war on young people coming of age. To my disappointment, a third of the book is spent describing various beauty treatments and fashion, another third is devoted to violence porn, and the remaining third is allocated to the heroine’s agonising over whether she is a good or a bad person at heart. In other words, not very much different from Stephanie Meyers’ drivel.
Many believe that these authors should be credited with encouraging today’s facebook and twitter obsessed youth to read. I disagree. There is very little to distinguish reading this dreck from watching a soap opera. My youth was shaped by some of the greatest coming of age literature ever produced, such as Catcher in the Rye, Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Lord of the Flies, etc, etc. And yes, The Lord of the Rings and all of Terry Pratchett’s books deserve a special mention.
The books I read as a young person shaped my worldview and prepared me for the complex world of adulthood. The only thing a young person could possibly learn from this rubbish is an obsession with appearance and excessive worry about being worthy of the object of affection’s love. What about the big, important things, like dignity, courage, passion?
Needless to say, I couldn’t manage the rest of the trilogy. I am sad that so many young people have.