1. theyoungweatherman
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    theyoungweatherman New Member

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    The alluring power of young adult fantasy novels

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by theyoungweatherman, Apr 3, 2012.

    With the wild box office draw from the movie version of Hunger Games, I've noticed that the most financially successful books are all from the same genre: Young Adult fantasy?

    Why is it such a case? Why are fantasy stories such as Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games exert such a draw to it's targetting audience while not being the most skillfully polished pieces of writing?

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  2. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    They are good to switch off to. Not children's books, but not heavy and difficult like really serious adult literature like Nabokov and Rushdie. They deal with adult themes, but in a less graphic, brutal way than adult books do.

    However, this is not to say it's a thing about genre. Things like Harry Potter are entertaining enough, and are at least written competently, but when you really think about things the Harry Potter world just stops making sense, and raises some really awful questions. Twilight has been hit hard (rightly) for being biased toward a particular philosophy too. They are popular despite great flaws.

    I'm not familiar with The Hunger Games at all. I hear it is the best of the three you mentioned. Which honestly isn't saying much.
     
  3. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Because the 'youth' themselves aren't polished.

    They haven't been around long enough to see every trick in the book, better food, proper clothing and values that last. They see fresh faces, which remind them of themselves, and the buzz words of the actors become their buzz words. Vampires look young and sexy (despite really being old and undead) and so the kids love vampires.

    Age and cunning beat youth and strength everytime. Not because it's a superior force, but just because we already know the ending.

    Hey, half of the baby-boomer posers I know ride motorcycles because in 1969 Peter Fonda was hot. His dissatisfaction with America became our own. Besides, his sister was a babe in Barbarella.

    History repeats.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    ^
    Seriously. What is it with you and Vampires? Not everyone under the age of 25 likes Vampires.
     
  5. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    You haven't been to the movies lately, have you?
     
  6. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    Yes. Vampires are just a fad. Like saying 'Excellent!' like Bill and Ted was when I was young. (I'm a child of the 90s)
     
  7. Cyrus
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    Cyrus New Member

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    Really well summed up Lemex.

    I strongly believe that simplicity is far more effective a tool than complexity when you are doing anything creative. Young adult Novels or "Tween Novels" strike the perfect balance, the writer is aiming for an audience that is less developed on an emotional level so all the strong emotional sentiments in the book are slightly more exaggerated and characters intentions become much clearer. This effect isn't lost on the more mature audience either as they understand it just as well if not even better. The result is characters that develop faster and in a far more concise manner allowing the reader to sit back and enjoy the journey.

    Thats what I think anyway.

    On a side note. I am currently reading through the second "Hunger Games" book and I have nothing but praise for a series that tries to present some REAL issues to younger audiences. Very well executed too.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    It goes deeper than that.

    Twilight now in both books and movies. Blade before that in three movies and a very bad TV series. Van Helsing. And don't forget about Anne Rice and Tom Cruise.

    I heard about Anne Rice's book in my mid 20s. I'll be 62 in a month. Three decades overall.
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    ^Things like Blade, Van Helsing, Anne Rice and Twilight use vampires in different ways, with different roles, and for different reasons. They are essentially all different creatures. Sides. Isn't the 'in' thing now The Hunger Games? Honestly though, if you mention Anne Rice then it isn't really 'the kids' is it?
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That's a distinction without a difference. In fact, you could make a good case that today's take on the subject is little different from the 1930s movies.

    As for the Hunger Games, the first thing I thought of was "The Running Man" for kids.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    That's very true. And it's funny. I had the same thought when I first heard of The Hunger Games.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Yup, quite a rip-off. Sleazy TV host. Special class of citizens. Scarcity of food. Legal actions satisfied with duels to the death.

    I hope Schwarzenegger and Richard Dawson are getting royalties.
     
  13. Cyrus
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    Cyrus New Member

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    I would say draws a lot more comparisons with Kaushun Takami's "Battle Royale".

    It was "Interview with a Vampire" that first turned vampires into desirable creatures I think, and it was Joss Whedons "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" that super charged the whole phenomenon and got all the teenage girls pining after them. It's this idea of a man with the looks of a teenager but the maturity and experience of someone who is centuries old who sticks to a charming but long dead brand of ettiquette towards women.

    I miss vampires when they would hypnotise people and turn into bats.
     
  14. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    Haha. What about Stephen King?

    And yeah, you can draw comparisons between Battle Royale, Hunger Games and Running Man. But what matters is the story, the idea itself - complaining about a similar idea being used is stupid. Nothing wrong with using an idea if you can pull it off well. Otherwise, complain about pretty much every romantic comedy being a rip-off of Pride and Prejudice.
     
  15. Cyrus
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    Cyrus New Member

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    Most Tweens aren't ever going to watch "Running Man". At least this way the same message is told to a much wider audience.
    I would hate to live in a world where each concept could only be written once, from one particular perspective.
     
  16. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese New Member

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    Cyrus has the right idea. Originality is pretty rare, The Hunger Games is certainly no exception, but it also isn't singular. The Matrix could be considered a 'rip-off' of Dark City, and Avatar could be considered a 'rip-off' of Disney's Pocahontas. But such similar plots certainly don't mean that the concepts are rip-offs.

    Regarding the original question, Lemex's post basically sums it up. They're slightly more mature themes that are geared towards the teen age group.
     
  17. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Don't forget guys, "Dark Shadows" is coming back. Yikes, I was 16 when that came out!

    Cyrus, I think there were bats in that one, so cross your fingers, pardon the pun.
     
  18. Erato
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    Erato New Member

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    YA is alluring because we have a myth about the innocent youth, the blessed childhood, or the romantic teenage hero(ine), or all of the above. It's attractive to think of the pure-minded, uncorrupted, madly in love liberty/justice fighter. This is epitomized in Katniss Everdeen, which is why she's not a particularly deep character, but elements of the same show up all over the place.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd LIKE to forget. Dark Shadows was just plain awful, in my opinion, and too unintentionally absurd to bother spoofing.

    As for why YA is so appealing, I think it's more a matter that the young adult demographic is one that flocks to the cinema. I do think that some of the YA hits were hits because the writing and story were a good read even for those who were young adults a long time ago. A good story is a good story, and it doesn't have to have adult-only themes to make it so.

    As for the popularity of Twilight, I haven't a clue, other than it panders to teen themes of angst, forbidden love, identity, death and immortality. The writing, in my opinion, was excruciating.
     
  20. Cyrus
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    Cyrus New Member

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    Thanks for reminding me of Dark City Cheddar. I am working on a project that is very similar in style.
     
  21. superpsycho
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    Escapism is common to all ages and today's youth has money to spend and parents who indulge them so naturally it's going to be a popular genre for both sides of the marketplace.
     
  22. Ananda
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    I think young people today are reading a lot more, and there are also a lot more books that cater to young adult interests. So I think it's a combination of these two things.

    Reading has become more popular and there is an endless supply of media for tweens (movies, video games, etc.).

    I think it's great, and I'm glad that books can still cause a stir. Everyone has heard of Harry Potter and Twilight.
     
  23. pet.
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    pet. New Member

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    I think it's more interesting than has been discussed, to be honest. I tend to think of YA fantasy as being popular because it's the most effectively crafted writing in terms of escapism. That's because it uses a fairly common technique; take a character from the 'real' world, make them both identifiable and sympathetic, then pull them into the fantasy world. This has the effect of pulling the reader along with them. In 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', for example, this technique is very obviously used. Why make the Dursleys so unpleasant? To build more sympathy for Harry. That sympathy, along with seeing the world through his perspective, lets the reader see Harry as a kind of exagerrated version of themselves, so they strongly identify with him and place themselves in the world of the book. Then, when he is taken out of the real world and into the world of fantasy, the reader is taken along with them. Escapism. I haven't actually read 'Twilight', but I take it that the same thing happens; tell tale signs would be the main character being slightly exagerratedly unhappy at the start of the book. Though in that case it ties into a desire to find romance as well as a desire to escape the boredom of reality.

    I don't think of 'The Hunger Games' as fitting into exactly that same genre, so I'm at a little bit of a loss to explain their popularity. I'll do a reread and think about it soon I think; this is the subject of my thesis, sort of.
     
  24. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I understand that principle, however where that impetus leads is where the concept derails the trolley.

    If kids, or adults for that matter, bought a book or saw a movie with their minds focused on escapism, I'd have no problem. And there was even a cable show last year demonstrating the number of modern inventions derived from "Star Trek."

    The issue that disturbs me is when people feel that the fantasy concepts in a movie or book are a legitimate blueprint for society or how they treat society. Let me explain.

    Using Star Trek again, it's one thing to enjoy the Klingons, even admire their patriotism or strengths. It's quite another thing to actually apply blind aggression in dealing with people here.

    Things like Twilight, The Hunger Games, even Mad Max, are not a template for society at any level. They are stories. They are not a remedy for modern day ills, not even an editorial comment.

    There are a lot of societal concepts and outright laziness that disturb me. Going to the actual physical location or neighborhood of situations that irritate you, seizing two children from each zone, and then killing them to teach the world a lesson is not the answer.

    Young people view things as absolutes. And since they don't run the world yet, their dissatisfaction makes them impatient. If aggression, firearms, vampires or as in my era blowing up a building along with an entire city block and killing a researcher, appears to be a successful pursuit, kids don't see why they shouldn't apply the same techniques.

    As a boy, I heard of numerous kids jumping off buildings just because they were wearing a Superman costume. In fact, George Reeves had to talk a young autograph seeker out of shooting him with his his dad's revolver. The kid just wanted to see bullets bounce off of him. (Reeves told the kid that the ricochet would hurt innocent people.)

    Do you guys know how many bikers of the 1960s took the front brakes off of their motorcycles just because Peter Fonda rode a bike with a spool hub?
     
  25. The-Joker
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    The-Joker New Member Contributor

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    I have to say, the reason young adult books are so popular and have the propensity to blow up into meteoric crazes, with legions of fans, is simply because young adults are liable to such obsessive behavior. There are scores of adult books being adapted to movies every year, much more than young adult books, but I don't think adults have the capability to fawn over fictional stories and characters the way younger people can. Adults are simply too involved in reality for such things.

    So there's no allure really for YA books. It's the YA demographic that pushes their books into superstar popularity, not because their books are any better than other age groups but because they have the required hysteria and zeal for fiction that few of their more senior counterparts possess.

    And the second part is that everybody(almost) is intrigued by the popular choice. So when these teens create enough hysteria about their books, adults will follow. And so you have adults reading YA books, not due to preference but rather popularity.
     

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