Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You "Down" Readers, You

I manage to read a lot. Nearly half of what I read each year is short fiction published in those pulp sized digests I mentioned here before, and many of those digest also publish book and movie reviews. I even attempt to complete those puzzles in the back of the mystery pulps. Needless to say, I sometimes get behind. For instance I'm just now reading the movie review section from the July/August 2014 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where Kathi Maio reviews Divergent.

Her opinion of the movie wasn't what caught my attention, though, it was something she pointed out that you would think would have been obvious to me, especially considering the theme of my blog.

Maio pointed out that the trend in young adult literature and the movie adaption of those books is to market those works to the young adult crowd in the hopes that they'll catch on with adults who are open to the idea of "reading down." Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent, and (unfortunately) Twilight are all examples of the books and movies appealing to more than just young adults. This works best in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres where the boundaries of the age factor is much less defined than in adult literature or mainstream fiction.

She makes the point, though, that just a generation or two ago, the reverse trend was true. For example, Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, even though it had a teen protagonist was marketed as an adult novel in the hopes that young readers would "read up" to it. There were fewer genre works aimed at teens and once past the basic fairy tales and mythology books, teens would read adult marketed literature and genre novels.

Like any good writer, she summed up in a few sentences a thought I've been wrestling with for months. So now it's time to take these observations and keep them in mind as we continue to study trends in book buying and reading habits. It'll make us better readers.

Until Next Time...
Boundarly Yours,

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