Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Entertainment Weekly: Double Oops

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Entertainment Weekly regarding its misguided review of Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games YA trilogy. I certainly respect reviewers' opinions, but in this case it was clear she didn't give the book a fair look.

While not perfect, The Hunger Games is one of my favorite young adult novels. I find the plot very creative, and the characters' obstacles and thought processes well-explained. I was excited for Catching Fire, and found it exceeded my expectations. Collins took what could have been a very repetitive storyline - another go at the Games - and twisted it in a way that made it gripping all over again.

Then came Entertainment, with a book review that made me question whether the writer read more than the back cover. Among other things, the writer bemoaned the book's lack of "erotic energy," and questioned why it couldn't be more like Twilight.

My issues with this:

1.) If Twilight is the new literary standard, we should all stop reading.*

2.) There is so much more to YA than Twilight. Authors like Collins, Steve Kluger, and John Green (just to name a few of my favorites) offer quirky, lovable books that make you feel and think, empathize and cringe!

3.) Catching Fire isn't even in the same plot category as Twilight. While it does contain a love triangle, it's about so much more. This is a story about bravery, problem solving, loyalty, adventure... I could go on.

*Yes, I read them. Yes, they were entertaining. Yes, I will probably see the movies. No, the writing isn't good.

In addition to all of this, the reviewer mixed up several plot points. See these two great blogs for more details:

My CPC friend Carlie at http://librarillyblonde.blogspot.com/2009/08/reading-book-is-like-so-2008.html
Liz at http://yzocaet.blogspot.com/2009/08/did-you-see-that-ew-article.html

So back to the review....

I was very excited when I received an email from EW, confirming my name and hometown so they could print my letter. While they did get the spelling right in the actual issue, they plopped my info under a review I didn't write. The text in print belongs to Liz Burns (of the above blog), who happens to be a friend of a friend. Weird! Anyway, I emailed the magazine and hopefully they'll print a correction.

My letter:

I never thought I’d find one of the more negative hallmarks of back-to-school season – students hastily skimming through summer reading selections at the last minute – right in the pages of EW. In her review of Catching Fire, Jennifer Reese not only mistakes plot points – Katniss’ costumes play a brief role at the beginning of the competition, but certainly not while she fights her competitors – but also spreads the unfortunate view that Twilight is the only piece of YA literature worth noting. Catching Fire does not, nor should it, seek for “erotic energy.” An antidote to all the Twilight wannabes lining bookstore shelves, it is less a love story than a tale of survival, trust and loyalty.

Liz's letter:

To read Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire as if it were a romance (particularly a romance like Twilight, which further narrows expectations) is to do the book a disservice (Books section). It means Jennifer Reese did not read the dystopian novel before her but rather read the book she wanted (or assumed) it to be: a Twilight-style romance. No wonder she thought the book failed.

Oops, EW.


Amusing Twilight review
Discuss Catching Fire

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Looking back, I was a little harsh on Twilight. The writing isn't horrible, it just isn't as wonderful as that of some of my other favorite authors, whose work sometimes falls to the wayside. Though I think the Twilight craze is a
little silly, I did enjoy the books - and so did my mom, my aunt, my sister, and a few of my college-educated female friends. Also, I have respect for any book that gets more book-wary kids to think, "Hey, I just read hundreds of pages - maybe I can do it again."

1 comment:

  1. LOL can I just say I love your blog and your writing style?! and oh my goodness your issues,

    1. Twilight being the standard we should all stop reading?
    -LOL emphatically agreed

    2. oh my SO. MUCH. MORE.

    3. I CONCURE!

    I went and read the review attached, I too wonder if that lady ever read the book. While I'm not the biggest fan of the Twilight saga I too am in support of any book that gets kids who otherwise wouldn't touch a book with a ten foot pole to read.