Monday, February 27, 2012

In the teen section of Barns and Noble

Beautiful girls stare blankly at me.

Their faces are tragically glamorous, yet pained. Many seem washed out, depressed, I feel emotionally drained just looking at them. Others are raging infernos of anger and my blood boils with them. Blood too is a central theme, is drips from the wrist of the girl limp in the bathtub, slips down the pale necks of several, drops from the smiling corner of a mouth, splatters across a mystic-looking butterfly. Dark colors and bold Gothic print. Short one line titles like Twisted, Withered, Tangled, Perfect, Tricks, Fever. Words like "wicked", "Love", "Heartbreak" fill in the longer titles.

Oh yes, Vampires are everywhere. They are hot boys in school you wish would bite you, the inconvenient thing that happened to you. They are fat, loud, quiet, thin, young, old, male, female, heroic, tragic, harmless, bloodthirsty, and rarely it seems, evil.

Catch phrases like, "You always hurt the ones you love", or "You never should have broken up with me" draw the eye and elicit a sympathetic tug of the old heart strings.

The whole world is pain, and sex, and monsters, and more pain. It's what we think, feel, write. It's what the young people want to read. Where is Shakespeare now to write of love and loss. The happy go lucky books of fairytale endings are over. The new rule is nothing ends happy. Or starts happy. Or has very much happiness anywhere in it. Something that makes us happy should also cause us pain - like Bella's love for Edward. And if we're too happy to notice the pain, it should hurt people around us until we notice.

Life lesson? Life hurts. And just when you think something good is happening, that hurts too. Don't expect much, and don't stress over what will happen - que sera, sera.

In other news, I wonder why teens are depressed? or anorexic? or bulimic? or suicidal? or promiscuous?

When adult women are as turned on by the characters and plots of teen novels as anyone is it still a teen novel? What topics are too much?


Kids deal with this stuff anyway. So why not let them simmer in it in every moment and aspect of their lives? After all, no one reads "wholesome" anymore. No one wants happy endings or good values and morals. We want temptation, the carnal flesh revealed, reveled in, and presented as normal, unavoidable passions of life.

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and George MacDonald are men of the past, their style of writing and their values are of the past too. It's time to move on. To embrace an apocalyptic future written for us by the J.K. Rowlings, Stephanie Meyers, and L.J. Smiths of this world.

Dark things are coming. . . I guarantee it.