With the release of Hunger Games, conversations have been perking up everywhere with friends and family. They all start off the same…”So did you see the movie?” Umm…yes, because the Prankster Duo have been anxiously awaiting its arrival for months. And with that answer an entire conversation is sparked.
What I’ve found to be the most interesting trend is that the conversation starts out with Hunger Games and evolves into spirited debates about how dark should a story really be? There’s the “I read to escape” group who claim that HEA (happily ever afters) are vital since they’re reading to get away from reality’s unrelenting grasp. Therefore, they feel that if a story doesn’t resolve itself with the HEA, why read it?
Then there’s the other side who feel that stories should have some reflection of reality, so HEA’s can actually be—kind of happily ever after because just like life, nothing is ever neatly tied into a pretty package.
I spoke to the Prankster Duo to figure out why they enjoyed the series, because yes, as a mom, I do read most of what my kids read. How else will I sneak my way into their lives? Since the Duo is male, the first reason is pretty simplistic—the fight scenes were “wicked awesome, mom!. Okay, but I wanted to see if they picked up on the socio-political aspect of the story…my answer…not really. For them, they enjoyed the books because they got to watch Katniss triumph over everything thrown her way, the fight scenes were intriguing, and they just liked it.
Yet as an adult the reasons I enjoyed the first book, liked the second, but had issues with the third are varied. And it wasn’t just me, even knight-in-slightly-muddy-armor hit some of the same points I did. The idea isn’t new (Lord of the Flies, Survivor…) but the characters had enough depth to keep me turning the page. The world was a grim alternate reality because as an adult I can see how close society skates against the edges of right and wrong. Plus, I write Urban Fantasy so I tend to travel the twisting, offshoots of the main road where a sharp blade is needed to fend off the glowing red eyes. I’m grateful my boys haven’t found these paths yet, I’d rather they get as much vitamin D as possible before they start checking out the shadows.
Still, the conversations on HEA’s has stuck with me and I took a look at some of the books I’ve been reading lately and found that even someone like me needs some sort of HEA in my stories. One particular series I marvel at the complex plots and sub-plots the writer seems to effortlessly weave, but regardless of how intricate her characters lives become, by the end of her books I’m anxious to start the next story. She may not tie up every line with a bow, but she makes them smooth enough that I’m not depressed when I’m done. Then there was the first book in a new series that I finished yesterday. It took me forever to figure out why I suddenly had the case of the blahs. Then it hit me…the book I just finished hadn’t given me my normal time out, instead I was drained emotionally. Not only that, but the ending, which was set up for the next book, hinted at the next bone-wearying trek through an emotional mountain range. Man, I just couldn’t garner up the excitement necessary to even want to think about that journey. Yes the main characters had a fairly solid HEA, but the surrounding characters that you just know are in the next story…man I feel so sorry for them.
So even with my own leanings to overall story arcs that web through each book, as a reader and a writer I’m starting to see just how important those HEA’s really are. Reading is escapism, and the whole purpose is to step outside your box of stress and challenges and take a peek at someone else’s. Plus, when they manage to vanquish the demons, it gives you hope that perhaps your own personal haunts aren’t so bad and perhaps this time, you too will conquer the big bads!
Don’t forget to check out my guest posts this week :
4/5/12 Mona Karel with my post “The Importance of a Sidekick with Fur” as I ponder why furry friends are making star appearences in today’s Urban Fantasy.
4/7/12 Nanny Berry with my post “You Never Really Grow Up…” as I try to get over the idea of my mom reading my sex scenes. (I’ll update blog link once I have it!)
4/8/12 Bri Clark with my post ” All I Needed to Know About Being Bad, I Learned from Soap Operas…” I think this title says it all!