I’m going to wander a little as my wandering mind often does. I read a review of The Hunger Games. All is fair in reviews. A review is an opinion and I think it’s silly people let other people’s opinions effect what they read. Whatever. That’s not the point. The point is when teen fiction, any teen fiction, is referenced to Harry Potter as in not comparing to it.
Run for the hills people! Perhaps the Christians who decided to take the Mayan calendar as their own were right, 2012 is the end! For literature. If you’ve studied any breath of literature (including adult to young adult) and compare a poorly written book that was made for the masses to another poorly book written for the masses (a.k.a. Harry Potter)…oh god, the humanity. It boggles the mind to think that that would be a comparison. For goodness sake, if you’re going to compare teen fiction, at least compare it properly.
Harry Potter is a whiny boy where every book starts with him moping and pretty much ends with him moping. Not a lot of character development happening there. Katniss Everdeen, in her defence, never mopes. Ever! Right, okay, she might not be the sort of female we’d elect as President (she’s a hell of a lot better than what we have on TV though, girls aspiring to be like Jersey Shore people?! Give her some credit), but at least she’s not Bella. She’s not an empty shell. And the author establishes a fair amount of character development relevant to how the story unfolds. In Harry Potter, however, the character development rarely makes sense and the plot ends up in wobely-gobely-icky-gooey mess of entanglements and twists with no foreshadowing, albeit entertaining.
I read The Hunger Games not because I thought it would blow me away in its literary prowess but because it brings up interesting concepts in a teen fiction novel and kids are reading it! Harry Potter, on the other hand, doesn’t really bring up anything important except the classical evil versus good and how are we going to overcome our differences; that happens in every book. Indeed, if you want to compare female characters, compare her to Tamora Pierce’s characters or even to Lucy in the Narnia series (now there’s a brave young lass). But please do the world a favor and don’t use Harry Potter as the spring board of your comparisons. The whole literature world is dying enough already, don’t contribute to it.
In an ideal world, students would be more interested in reading Sherlock Holmes, Tolkein, culturally responsive books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or Eon. These are far more interesting and complex than Harry Potter or The Hunger Games which are basically on the same level. But the fact that so many children are so interested in reading is a step in the right direction. Now, we must move towards young adult and adult literature that is actually literature and not the next obsessive book destined to be on the screen. And I might add, don’t always be so quick to blame the author. Some people want their stuff published so they go along with a clueless publisher that’s more interested in making money rather than making critical minds.
P.S. This is by no means to insult anyone or any of the authors. I am impressed by what Rowling has accomplished, she’s just not at the top of my list for ideal authors. It’s meant to convey that when composing a review on a book, make sure that you compare it to something that’s more literature-based than entertainment-based. Thank you to all those wonderful critical minds that take the time to knit-pick stories and create meaning from it, keep up the amazing-ness;)