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Mining YA

Hollywood has officially mined out my adolescence. I mean clear cut, stripped down to bedrock. They have left nothing undisturbed.

This realization came with seeing a preview for ‘The Giver”. The book by Lois Lowry was one of the first ‘non-kid’ book I remember reading. My middle school library was small; a single room. You could see all the books when standing at any point in the room. As an awkward tween, I would browse the shelves, pick-up books that caught my slightest interest and usually check them out. Even without actual counting (Ms. Dawson, the librarian would know), I am sure I read over half of the fiction section. Now as a confident mature adult, I still check out random books – but the library is a lot bigger.

The Giver had a lasting impact on me. I’ve never met any one else who has read it. Unlike the pop cultural phenomenons Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, the small Newbery winner was missed by my friends, family and classmates. It was like my own private gem. There aren’t any fantasy creatures or traditional heroes. Even now I couldn’t tell you the characters’ names, but I could summarize the plot almost perfectly. As I mentioned, it was the first ‘grown-up’ book that stuck with me. (It felt very mature for a 12 year old.) It was much ‘darker’ than anything else I had read to that point. The subtle way the story reveals the ‘wrongness’ of the futuristic society surprised me as a young reader. The bad guys were hard to see. And the grown-ups weren’t always right.

I still read YA as an adult (usually after the movie comes out). Books that I read after or just before the movie aren’t as sacred to me. The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Mortal Instruments. I liked the books. I liked the movies. I don’t try to pick one over the other. I can enjoy them as separate forms of entertainment. Sure, I have a few grudges against movie makers. The film version of Eragon made me think the director only looked at the book cover. The only thing the two have in common is a boy and a blue dragon. And I’ll save my rant over the last Harry Potter movie for later.

I am not against The Giver being turned into a movie. But I do hope the film-makers realize what makes this book unique. It may not have the cult following of some others.  The story wasn’t big and flashy. It doesn’t have much visually that translates into a big blockbuster. However, it’s core themes are universal but intangible. Love, Joy, Hurt, Loss. Individuality. Ironically, all the things that ‘community’ in the book tries to ‘standardize’, are what make a great story.


What is your favorite young adult book?

What was the best/worst book to movie adaptation?




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