Thursday, September 22, 2011

Get Real?

September 22, 2011

Another writer of teen fiction succumbs to the lure of “realism”, as in: I want kids to know that life is HARD. There aren’t always easy answers and things don’t always end happily.

Since I don’t want to ruin the current series, in case you haven’t read it yet, I’ll revisit my objections to this approach by talking about two older series. This is from June of 2008:

I don’t know what possesses writers of teen sci-fi to suddenly decide they have throw in a dose of realism at the end of the line. A series will rollick along, with plenty of laughs in it, and with each book ending, if not totally happily, at least on a high note. Then, at the end, when the reader can reasonably expect to leave feeling good, the author drops the hammer, and blows the whole thing.

Take killing off a Harry Potter character, or doing rotten things to the Animorphs. Let’s face it: Six kids saving the entire world from an invasion of parasitic, ear-entering alien slugs by changing into animal forms through a device they got from another alien is hardly realistic to start with.  And people zipping around on high-powered brooms, waving wands and chanting incantations to change butterbeer into wine is not something we encounter in everyday life, either.

So why the sudden need to go all real-life on us? What about the series was particularly realistic in the first place?

Note to writers of teen fiction: Sometimes the happy ending is all that keeps the kids believing that things CAN go right in life. Unless you grew up in an unusually idyllic setting, you should know that no teen needs more “realism.” Even the ones who don’t live in terrible neighborhoods or with abusive parents have plenty on their plates already. They don’t need more downers. They need hope!

Leave the reality to Dostoyevsky.

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