Wednesday, April 20
Reaching The Next Generation
This isn't going to be a movie review, although I'll say if you haven't seen it you should see it. It's a good movie. They picked up in a good place, all the best things about the original trilogy were in there with none of the crazy-hard-to-follow-angstyness of the 3 'prequels' from a few years ago. That's my pitch.
Why am I talking about a movie if I'm not going to review it? It's about the story.
What many people hated about the movie were the jumps it took from a character who thought Luke and Leia and Han were myths to that character not only believing in them, but using the force. That part didn't bother me at all, and I'll tell you why: the story.
What I loved, as a kind and as an adult, about the original trilogy were the characters. We had a pirate/smuggler, a princess, an outcast (say what you will, I've always thought of Luke as a kind of outcast), and we shouldn't have liked any of them. Han was a little too smug, Leia was a little too princessy and righteous and Luke was a little too clueless, but George Lucas was so good at drawing their characters that Leia's righteousness was equal parts annoying and amusing, and Han's smug, piratey attitude was just right against her prim etiquette...and who can't root for the underdog of Luke who was abandoned, whose family was murdered and who kept pressing forward?
All of those things, the new writers did with The Force Awakens. Rey is abandoned and clueless, but she risks herself to protect a robot. Finn is a rogue Storm Trooper who risks his life to save Rey. And then we see Han and Leia, and they're just as wonderful as they always were...and there is the evilness of the dark side, and all those crazy alien beings. I have to tell you, a few times I caught myself watching bebe instead of the movie and her awe and absorption in the movie was breathtaking...and at 7 I know there were parts of it that were totally over her head, but the story was told so well, that she knew who to root for, and why they were fighting, and what it all meant.
And all of that got me thinking: a lot of people say reading is dead. That Baby Boomers are the last big reading generation, and that Gen Xers don't read, and Millennials read even less than Gen Xers and whatever they decide to call bebe's generation won't read anything at all.
I think those experts are wrong...I think, as a kid, it's hard to find your reading niche. A lot of people think children's and YA books are one size fits all - a girl will read anything princess and a boy will read anything alien...and instead of giving them what they want (Harry Potter aside, of course), the kids get pigeon holed into only reading certain kinds of books. If we don't help them find their niche - be that sci-fi or princess or historical space opera with a twist of paranormal - they'll never find their reader niche as an adult.
Do I have a solution to the problem? I have a mom solution, and that solution includes encouraging bebe to read across the spectrum, having dedicated reading time and never saying no to any book purchase. But I think, in the grand scheme of things, the solution is to get back to the basics of good storytelling - heroes and heroines and misfits and grand evil and ultimate goodness...and a hell of an adventure.
What about you? What kinds of books would you like to see hit store shelves?