Wednesday, June 9, 2010

YA dystopias -- are we in hell, or just high school?

In another example of YA's tight grip on even adult book lovers, Laura Miller has a great piece in the recent New Yorker magazine about young adult dystopian novels. Books discussed here -- Hunger Games, Maze Runner, The Knife of Never Letting Go -- have an ardent following in my library.

I held my breath a bit as Miller attacks Hunger Games' every flaw (she's spot on with each criticism), making it all sound like complete nonsense. But then she completely gets it with this amazing section:

"If, on the other hand, you consider the games as a fever-dream allegory of the adolescent social experience, they become perfectly intelligible. Adults dump teenagers into the viper pit of high school, spouting a lot of sentimental drivel about what a wonderful stage of life it's supposed to be."

The rest of this section is brilliant, but it's too long to quote. Here's the full, incredibly thoughtful article, in which Miller shows a deep understanding of why students love these dark, creepy books. It might make YA-obsessive adults wonder, however, if they're still having a hard time getting over their own high school hazing.

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