Monday, September 13, 2010

Rawlings vs. Meyers

Anyone who reads children’s and young adult fiction and wastes time on the internet googling things like Stephanie Meyers (and sadly, I must admit that I occasionally fall into that category because oh, the amount of things on the internet that I can waste my time reading about boggles the mind) runs into arguments over who is the better writer.  In the Rawling’s camp there are such luminaries as Stephen King while legions of Team Edward girls defend Meyer with emoticons and misspellings.

I think the whole thing is silly.  While there is some overlap, the audience the authors are writing for is different.  I like them both.  Do I think their books have staying power?  I don’t know.  Maybe both of them will be like the Nancy Drew series or oh, oh, oh the Bobbsey Twins.  Their future barren, doomed to be read only by nerds like me who read absolutely anything I could get their hands on.  I enjoy all their books but they both have strengths and weaknesses.

J.K. Rawlings is responsible for many children discovering a love of reading.  She is responsible for children actually reading.  The first “real” book Jake ever read was a Harry Potter.  Nothing less motivating worked.  And a nephew who hated reading learned to read because of that series.  Parents around the world, including me, praise the name of J. K. Rawlings.  But . . . reading her books aloud is painful.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love her books.  I’ve read them all.  She tells a great story, has a vivid imagination and is wildly creative.  But her editor should be put in a corner and never be allowed to edit another book!  I had the brilliant migraine inducing idea of reading the first book out loud to Brianne.  I am a speed reader, my dad is a speed reader, and sadly, Jake is a speed reader.  It’s genetic.  I hate reading out loud because it takes so long I get bored.  So, while I was reading Harry Potter out loud to Bri I had plenty of time to read ahead.  And unfortunately, I also had time to think about what I was reading.  I noticed Rawlings reused words frequently.  Snippily, I’d think in my head “she’s used that word three times in two pages.  She should have used ­­­­­­­­­____ this instead."  (And no, I can't write as well as she can. Yes, she is better than me.  That’s why she has a lot of money and I am considering moving in with Bri when I’m old.)  I don’t love her word play.  I tried to stop reading the book to Bri, but she was enthralled.  When I finally finished I decided to read Bri one of my favorite books from elementary school.  A book so beautifully written that the words made me ache despite the fact I was far too young to fully understand it.  Bri refused to listen past page 3.  I was dismayed; perhaps I should not have pointed out the language to an eight year old.  Well, regardless, Tuck Everlasting remained unread by her for five years.

I read Twilight a couple of years after it came out.  The benefit of doing so was not having to wait to read the next in the series.  Reading it reminded me of adolescence, boys, the anxiety of relationships and dating.  And as I read it I remembered those feelings.  I had forgotten them.  Stephanie Meyers nailed it.  And that’s why girls and women like her and explains why men are baffled.  She has taken an every girl, or at least someone who feels like an every girl and she is pursued and desired.  And while if I had to pick a team it would be Team Jacob, I like that Edward sparkles and has a cool power.  Then Meyers makes sure it works out for everyone in the end.  And I like that!

One doesn’t have to be a better writer than the other.  What criteria do you judge them by anyway?  Both mothers are wildly successful and have encouraged more people to read and buy books.  Find a better reason to compare them than that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of Suzanne Collins - Hunger Games Trilogy rocks

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