It has SO been done and done and done and done. And yet, it seems to go on and on and on and on...
Did you ever force yourself to finish a relentlessly bleak action-ish book that had no particularly interesting or dynamic or richly developed characters and no humor to speak of either and no particularly interesting thematic elements, holding on all the while for some sort of redemptive payoff at the end? Not a shallow 100% twist-of-fate/everybody winds up OK in the end/"and she woke up, and it was all just a dream" sort of ending, but merely a smidge of added depth & dimension on the part of any primary character, or an ironic or truly surprising twist in the plot, or some sense that the writer - especially when he or she is writing for young adults - was attempting to offer up more than a (yes, suspenseful, but also quite violent) soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture-on-paper?
Well I held on, wishing for something more, I did. And quite recently too. More than once.
And I'm getting sick of wishing.
In fact, for this "review", I hesitate to name the book title or author, because I want to act with compassion toward the writer, who's probably just trying to make a living like anybody else. Yet failing to warn people about this book might also constitute a breach of compassion toward would-be readers. So I'm torn.
For today, instead of a strict review, I'm going to lament - briefly - the abominable overload of dystopian fiction for young adults that the marketplace can't seem to stop pushing. Is it not indeed enough that many movies nowadays are simply chase-fests or compilations of violent scenes? Must we feed this same soulless drivel to our children via their books, upping the ante of violence and bleakness and moral vacuity with each passing year? Really?
Fresh on the heels of The Hunger Games trilogy, this recent read to which I'm alluding is just more of the same dystopic action, but with less depth. And I did read and enjoy The Hunger Games, but it was on the leading edge of this trend and offered more in terms of character development and thematic resonances. Now we're just seeing novel after novel playing out progressively darker visions of the future with progressively thinner character development, and I ask, "Why?" And, "Should writers and publishers for young adults hold to a higher standard, offering quality novels with at least a smidge of depth and perhaps some occasional cause for hope amid the horror?"
MFB with this issue, and I hope to begin a conversation, so please write back!
What'll I do?
Write to the ALA/YALSA/Prinz committee with a link to this review and request a response, while urging them to consider additional criteria for nominations and/or recommended reads in the future.
p.s. Maybe one day I'll publish the name of the book. But right now, I'm too disgusted with writers and publishers who are apparently happy to make their living by wallowing in and - to some degree - glorifying the worst of human nature, studiously ignoring how their actions reinforce passivity and fatalism while simultaneously playing to the most shallowly thrill-seeking impulses of our youth.