Thursday, June 28, 2012

...a story is about more than its individual parts.

For instance, my favorite line I use to "sell" TWILIGHT to the naysayers is that it's a love story...that happens to have vampires in it.  OKAY, I understand those vampires are sort of their own breed and they're terribly romantic.  But it's a LOVE story.  Regardless of the depiction of monsters, if you don't love the love, you won't like this story.  Honestly, if the vampires mean more to you than the love story, do NOT pick up this book.  Sorry if you already have.  It's TWILIGHT.  Your girlfriend made you see the movie.  They tried to put some action in it.  I know.  It was still...OTHER.  And I know there's a part of it that intrigues you (come on, Breaking Dawn Part Two, i.e. Bella's self-actualization kind of has you interested).  Under certain conditions...

...a great story is created.

For instance, THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers is possible because of a zombie apocalypse.  Okay, a group of teenagers thrown together by circumstances and fortifying their high school against certain death pushing in at all sides seems a bit BIG.  But it's more like the movie The Breakfast Club in how each of these very different characters come together and confront their lives, what counts, what doesn't, in an un-blockbuster story of quiet strength and sacrifice and SURVIVAL.

Under certain conditions, a story becomes so much MORE...

...than monsters

...than your girlfriend's latest obsession

...than words strung together

...than a talking horse with wings (seriously, if you haven't read PEGASUS already, we must shake our heads at you)

Under certain conditions, a story might just change your life (like, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS) or let you hide from your life for a while (um, hello Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Brimstone's secret lair) or encourage you to live more deliberately (a zombie apocalypse or a supervolcano will do it).

And when certain conditions come together with great characters and action that counts, Imma be reading that.  ;)  What are you reading right now that's "More than just a (fill in the blank)"??

OR riddle me this:  Imagine you are in a sinking boat surrounded by sharks.  How do you survive?  (Just stop imagining it).  wah-wah.  Someone named "iloveonedirection" posted this on Riddle Me This.  

7 comments:

Kristan Hoffman said...

It's a Stephenie Meyer book again, but THE HOST is so brilliant because it's about love and identity, NOT aliens, even though that's the plot device.

Also:

THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan - not really about zombies

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater - not really about man-eating horses

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green - not really about cancer

Christopher Blum said...

I'm sorry, but twilight is not about love. Those books are the worst thing to happen to feminism and depictions of romance in many, many years.

Kristan Hoffman said...

@Christopher-
I genuinely don't mean this as an attack, but I know from WORD for Teens' recent post that you only read 20 pages of TWILIGHT, so I'm not sure it's fair for you to say something like that so definitively...

Christopher Blum said...

Fair enough, that was over the top on my part. I don't pretend to be an expert on the books, although I think I'm familiar with most of the major plotpoints.

That said… Bella wakes up the morning after losing her virginity, badly bruised, and immediately forgives Edward and begs him to have sex…. Really? I need to explain why I find that abhorrent?

kaye (paper reader) said...

I have to admit, I have hard time seeing past anything in TWILIGHT, but that's just me. The bare bones story has potential, but needs - to me - many more rounds of drafts and edits.

That said, my choices...!
THE SCORPIO RACES: Immediately came to my mind, this book. Not just about horses or water or isolation. TSR is so much more than just the sum of its parts. (Sorry, Kristan, but you know how much I love this one!)

EVERY DAY (David Levithan): I cannot stress enough that this book is not just about a person who wakes up in a different body on a daily basis. This, really, is a book about humanity.

BRUISER (Neal Shusterman): This one sounds like some is getting beat up on a consistent basis. And while something IS happening, it's certainly not that.

Sarah Wedgbrow said...

@Kristan...I second those choices!

@Christopher...I see your point. I do. In fact, it's funny because I always forget those issues that have been criticized because it's not my own experience with the novel. All I know is that after reading TWILIGHT (which is the only one I mentioned in the post as opposed to the series) I felt all loved up like I did when I was first dating my husband. It reminded me of those young emotions. In my opinion, TWILIGHT perfectly captures adolescent love. It's a bit obsessive. And addictive. Do I think it's the greatest love story of all time? No. Do I get why so many people love it? Yeah. But I don't think TWILIGHT takes itself as seriously as others do.
And, hey! Give me a suggestion of your kind of love story.

@Kaye...I would have loved to get my hands on the TWILIGHT series before it was published so I could have a few edits myself. :) I'm not without my own criticisms. But if it was really so bad, why would I even care?

And, man, your choices are thoughtful! BRUISER sounds like my kind of story. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention!

Christopher Blum said...

Sarah- Again, fair enough. I'm certainly not one to judge anybody for irrationally loving a book, since Lord knows I've done it enough times.

My kind of love story? Recent favorite is probably Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn books. A little forced in the early going, but really sad, lovely, mature stuff by the end. Plus magic ninja fistfights, which make everything awesome.

Also, and I swear this isn't a plug, you might want to check out my most recent blog post. I think you'd get a decent laugh out of it...

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.


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The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
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Mind Games
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Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
Bitterblue
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Pretties


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