based on Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
If you’ve not heard of Mystery Science Theater 3000, get thee to Wikipedia; it’s sort of a fundamental text in my life. In fact, Mike and the ‘bots (I’m a Mike girl) have taken their riffing to new heights with RiffTrax, which does riffs in the form of podcasts, which means they get to mock whatever they want. (In the old days, they had to buy the rights!) The top-rated riff on RiffTrax, in fact, is Twilight, and that’s how I watched Twilight for the first time. Since then, I’ve watched it with the riff, with my own film depreciation group, and listened to Down in Front’s commentary on the film. And yet, it’s only recently that I realized I should totally review it for the blog. Uh, whoops?
So mermaids are apparently the supernatural creature du jour in the world of young adult fiction, according to io9. Posts like this always make me raise my eyebrows a bit; over the past few years, I’ve been hearing that angels and, perhaps more alarmingly, zombies are the new hotness, but from where I’m standing, such new trends really haven’t made a dent in pop culture. Twilight, at least until the last film comes out, still reigns supreme (have y’all seen Lee Pace’s hostage face on his character poster? It’s something to behold), True Blood still holds thrall, and The Vampire Diaries is quite popular. Of course, there’s always been something sexual about vampires, especially since Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, but the recent rise of the vampire in pop culture has forgotten something crucial to the vampire mythology: eternal damnation. Or so I thought until recently.
In my head, my year is separated into two halves—the holidays (October through April—Halloween through Easter) and geek season (April through September—Renaissance Festival through Dragon*Con). This isn’t a hard and fast rule; obviously, this December is going to be awesome. A subsection of geek season is the glory of summer movies, and another cinematic summer is upon us! (…summer has four months in the South. And, yes, The Hunger Games technically kicked off blockbuster season this year, but it lacked, you know, being released in summer.) It’s time, ladies and gentlemen—time for the midnight premiere.
You may have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first installment of an erotica trilogy that began life as the alternate universe Twilight fanfic Master of the Universe. For fans, it’s a story that’s both delightful in the sheer amount of drama involved and a bit troubling in how visible it’s making a piece of fanfiction, considering the possible legal repercussions. For non-fans, it’s a story of a fan turning pro. But there was one particular non-fan’s reaction that intrigued me. Over the last week, Jason Boog, the editor of GalleyCat, has covered the story for both GalleyCat and NPR. Both pretty much ask the same question—“Will the success of Fifty Shades of Grey inspire more fan fiction writers to convert their work into straight fiction?” (In fact, the NPR piece assumes that “James’ success will undoubtedly spawn a wave of repurposed fan-fiction erotica in the coming months”.)
So I’ve finally decided to go and see The Hunger Games on opening weekend. I would have seen the film eventually for the Capitol citizens’ costuming, but I wasn’t in any rush. I didn’t care for the first novel enough to finish the series. But the more I watch the trailer, the more I want to see it. But regardless of my interest in the upcoming film, I’ve been starting to be a bit perturbed by the conversation surrounding the merchandising around The Hunger Games, especially a vein of awkward and unquestioned anti-femme androcentrism.
Do you cheat and peek at the ends of books? (Come on, be honest.)
To be wholly honest, I have done this in the past, usually at midnight release parties—I glanced sidelong at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and kept cackling out the astoundingly vague ending to Breaking Dawn on the way out to the car. (We were there for kicks and giggles; we were Team Bella Dies and Team Mike.)
But now? I try not to. It ruins the tension; I only do it if I have to know if a character survives or not or the setting changes drastically or not, and I really try to make them scarce. The author wrote the book in a certain order for a reason—I’d rather let things unravel at its own speed. (Unless my favorite character is in a dire situation.)
If you read series, do you ever find a series “jumping the shark?” How do you feel about that?
And, do you keep reading anyway?
I have to say, I don’t encounter this particular phenomenon in books as much as I do in television (I stopped watching House and Heroes for this reason). Authors, especially authors sitting on a well-received book series, don’t have that same sort of desire to desperately grab an audience; their audience, they and their production teams reason, is loyal and built-in. I have to say, though, that I don’t often pursue the open-ended series that might be tempted to jump the shark; I prefer a series with an end in mind.
That being said, I think Breaking Dawn, the last installment in the much-reviled Twilight series, is the only piece of shark-jumping I’ve encountered so far. But it didn’t just jump the shark, it played jump rope with it, and I was delighted by how the series collapsed in on itself and revealed its true colors (complete wish fulfillment, with added werewolf pedophilia). I’m actually, when I can get some time, writing a paper on the series. Usually, however, if a book appears to have jumped the shark, I’ll finish that book and then drop the series.
While I bore witness to the manga section at your local bookstore taking over the Western comics like, well, a tentacle monster, the young adult section threw me for a huge loop. In fact, the near-meteoric rise of young adult fiction occurred while I was too close to see it, being a year younger than Harry Potter. But looking at this sort of thing serves me as an aspiring editor and publisher, so we’re going to take a look at how young adult fiction conquered a shelf at my local Books-a-Million.
For those among us who have been living under a rock, the next three big book to film adaptations are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (or, a generation grows up), Breaking Dawn (or, the death of Taylor Lautner’s career), and The Hobbit (or, I didn’t come with a funny name because I’m so freaking excited). The other thing all three of these films have in common? Well, as the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer puts it, they’re all “presented in two parts”. As fannish friends, reader friends, and filmmaker friends express approval over this trend, I often feel a bit awkward when I admit that I think it’s a terrible idea.
I’ve watched the rise of paranormal romance (nice going, Twilight) and urban fantasy with an concerned eye since I was a wee lass. Not because they’re not my cup of tea, but because they’re part of an increasing set of sub-genres in speculative fiction (our nice, academic word for fantasy and sci-fi) that have started to punch holes in the traditional distinctions between fantasy, science fiction, and other genres. While I don’t advocate forcing everyone to put their novels into only one distinct genre, I think a lot of the organizational mess that I see in speculative fiction nowadays can be solved with the addition of one major genre to speculative fiction–supernatural fiction.