Just to get the disagreeable bit out of the way first, the internet was quite feisty this week because the 3rd book in the Divergent series, Allegiant, came out and the fans were … upset … about the ending. Only it’s a young adult novel with a young adult audience, so the upset was cranked up to 11 and the author caught everything up to and including death threats. By all accounts, author Veronica Roth handled it all with restraint. Here is a link to the details, but the article has spoilers for the book so be warned.
I haven’t planned on reading the series, but I found the turn of the discussion concerning appropriate denouement for young adult fiction very interesting. The readers expected a happy ending; various authors noted that authors don’t owe their readers anything, and especially not climactic unicorns and rainbows. If I want a guaranteed happy ending – and sometimes I do – I can read romance, where it is in fact an established rule. I don’t think that young adult has to guarantee what in romance is called HEA (happy ever after); the thing I appreciate most about current young adult lit is that it doesn’t talk down to its readers. In my preteen years I read a lot of Stephen King, so clearly HEA was not a requirement.
But, I also don’t think that HEA endings are stupider, or less literary or thoughtful, than dramatic ones. I have never understood why only Serious Movies get Oscar consideration. A good plot develops and finds the right ending on whichever end of the spectrum works.
Blah, enough of that. Correcting another one of my least favorite attitudes, Sarah Maclean, who writes really excellent romances, wrote a letter to the New York Times on their article on writing sex scenes which inexplicably left out the experts on the subject in the romance field. As it did not insult their intelligence, I suspect it was the 2nd or 3rd draft.
The World Book Night book list came out this week. Even though I’ve never signed up to participate – I’m not quite sure where I would locate non-readers who wouldn’t think I was insane for trying to give them a book – I pick the ones I think I’d be good at pitching. And this year – wow, this is a challenging list to pitch to non-readers. The Weird Sisters I enjoyed, but I can’t imagine selling a non-reader on a book about a collection of first-world-problem sisters with a Shakespearean quoting professor for a father. I’ve recommended the Dog Stars to several people who have hated it, plus it has odd diction that makes it hard to stick with. I’m under no illusions that everyone likes Jane Austen as much as I do, so I can’t imagine telling a non-reader that a book based on a 200 year old book is just the thing for them, yet Miss Darcy Falls in Love is on the list so someone thinks it’s a good idea. I thought Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was wonderful but it is very, very odd; odd seems to be in style so I might give that one a go. But the sure bet is the Agatha Christie Poirot mystery After the Funeral; Christie novels are short and funny and the plot setup has been stolen for years of TV shows. Kitchen Confidential would probably find a pretty wide appeal, as well.
If I needed more T-shirts (I’m about to move again so really, I don’t) I’d buy one from this site just because it’s called Insatiable Booksluts.
I also don’t need any more books to move, but I acquired two Alice Munro short story collections because she won a Noble prize and it seemed like a good time for it. Here’s a free short story of hers from the New Yorker site.
And finally, Nicholas Sparks denied he writes icky romances (women write those, ew) by naming his genre “love tragedy.” I’d like to thank him for defining the genre so I can better avoid it in the future.