Harry Potter. Star Wars. Twilight. The Percy Jackson series. Hunger Games.
These are the popular titles that have dominated the media for years, although some not as much anymore. And do you know what they brought with them as they hit the bookshelves of every store in America?
Obsessive. Crazy. Fans.
Look, I know that I'm a nerd, but even I don't get as crazy as some fans today do. Some friends and other people that I know happen to be mega fans of things such as the above. So much in that they will get into fights with people, make fun of their friends that don't like or have read the same things, or trample people for the next upcoming book. At the old Border's, there was even a Harry Potter support group for readers of the series when it ended. I'm sorry but gimme a break.
I've read Harry Potter. I've watched Star Wars. And I also read Twilight, but do you know what? I'd rather not read them. There are some major things that I dislike about books that dominate the media. One reason is that kids will miss out on other less popular, but equally good or even better books; another is that people think these books are good. The first three Harry Potters were okay, but after that...
Has J.K Rowling even ever heard of editing? It's just simply not possible that all of that information is worthwhile and important.
Yet, even though Harry Potter might have needed a bit more revision, nothing could have needed more highlighter yellow and angry red ink than Twilight. Oh yes. The big phenomena that swept the nation and brought on the vampire craze. Not the best written series ever. The second book was the most boring book I had ever read in my life, and the fourth and final one was a total disappointment. I don't mind someone changing the classic qualities of vampires—because, really, who cares--but at a certain point when all the vampires just sort of stand around instead of fighting their enemies that are going to approach them, you have to wonder why you're reading this.
While Harry Potter was annoying to me at times, it at least, according to Stephen King, "...is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
Oh so true, Stephen King.
Not to mention that Twilight, as well as the acclaimed Hunger Games, are not the first of their kind. Writers like A. Lee Martinez, Libba Bray, C.S Lewis and even Bram Stoker have written on paranomal/fantasy romances and been writing them before Twilight. Twilight did not put the genre of paranormal romances on the map. It only brought media coverage to them. If I had spent as much of my adolescent years obsessing over those books and that genre specifically I would have missed out on so many authors. Authors, might I add, that can write ten to a hundred times better than Stephanie Meyer can.
Hunger Games, as mentioned before, is definitely not an original. Battle Royale, a book written in 1999 by Yuji Oniki, possesses parallels to its junior that are remarkably uncanny. This book is one of the best selling novels in Japan and is critically acclaimed abroad, having been published in 8 languages. It has been admired by Stephen King, given inspiration to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series, the novel The Condemned, and other movies and even a video game. The story entails the required participation of 53 students in a militarized combat situation called the Program in a country known as the Greater East of Asia. These students then have to go around and kill each other. They are given basic survival materials and are forced to survive on an island in an undisclosed location. And oh yes, they even have mentors.
Sound familiar? Yes. In fact, Hunger Games is so familar to that of Battle Royale that readers and fellow fans of Battle Royale have called it a bald faced rip off. Which honestly, with how much that book has been referenced and commented on by people that she could even consider her peers, and how much tribute its been given by popular culture, isn't it just strange that she said that she didn't know anything about it? Yes.
Let's face it, folks. It's going to be hard to find anything nowadays that is truly original, and things that I have mentioned--specifically Twilight and the Hunger Games--are definitely not. Does that mean that they aren't good books? Well, its a matter of opinion (and you obviously know mine.) Does that mean that they don't deserved to be read? No. But here's what I'm going to say to alll of you crazy obsessive fans...
Your books, and the author that has written those books, is definitely not the be-all, end all to literature, especially young adult fiction. When those series have ended, when the movies have all been produced, all that is left to stand are memories, because fads will come and go and prove to do so. So it's not worth it to get into screaming matches with someone over Team Edward or Team Jacob. It is most certainly not worth it to make fun of your friend who haven't read the books (which has happened to me.) It's not worth it to reread the same books so much that your life has been consumed by them. And do you know why? It's because you're missing out. It's because you are closing yourself in and making yourself ignorant of other books. It's because your obsession with that series, book, or genre, is preventing you from gaining a better understanding of the literary world.
Pick up Yuji Oniki. Pick up F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read Libba Bray, Martinez, Stoker, Toni Morrison, Erin Hunter, Tamora Pierce, Terry Prachett, Charles Dickens, J.D Salinger, Twain, Austen, both Brontes, Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Victor Hugo! Read the authors whose books have stood the tests of time! Read classics! Read other genres! Read nonfiction! Relate to the non-super fans! If you are the person who has spent your whole life reading trends and fans and being the super fan, stop! Because really, what's great about reading is is that there is so much else out there to read!
There's a whole world of literature out there. Put down that copy of the Hunger Games that you've read for the tenth time... and go find it.