Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On fiction for adolescents

So I stayed home sick yesterday, and mostly I sat on the couch feeling crappy and read 600 pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This is my least favorite of the HP series, and if you don't care about YA fiction, this would be a good post to skip, as I plan to elucidate my reasons in a very convincing manner.

HP5 kind of sucks because Harry spends the entire book being a whiny prick.

I get that Harry is 15, and that's prime angst time, but come on. I worked with fifteen-year-olds and even was one once, and I can assure you that very few teenagers are that whiny, especially to their friends, that much of the time.

First Harry is pissed that he is stuck in Privet Drive while his friends hang out together. Then he's pissed that Dumbledore doesn't pay more attention to him.  He's pissed that Sirius is feeling the same way he is and he has to pretend it's okay. He hides from everyone after he has the snake-and-Mr.-Weasley dream, then gets mad for talking about him when he's not there. He spends huge sections of the book bickering with his best friends and Cho. It's irritating, and frankly it's just plain boring.

I know huge amounts of time in adolescence are spent agonizing over every miniscule detail of your life, but it doesn't make for interesting reading. Part of what I hated about the writing of Twilight (the writing, here, not the phenomenally shitty and misogynistic storyline) was that it was all from the perspective of a self-absorbed and rather boring teenage girl.

Fiction for teenagers doesn't have to be like this! Thankfully, Harry's angst disappears (mostly) after Order of the Phoenix, and there are terrific books like the Hunger Games trilogy that involve intelligent main characters. And of course there will always be The Giver, to reread a million times.

What adolescent fiction without whiny characters can you recommend?

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