Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Year of the Beast v. Every Day

The truth is that I am embarrassed to post such an old-and-tired discussion point as my inaugural offering to the blogging Gods, but in truth, much of my life these days could be described as old-and-tired, and herein lies the rub.

Plainly, my vote for this round of the Smackdown goes to Every Day, by David Levithan, if only by an old-and-tired form of acclamation.  I just don’t feel the love for graphic novels.  In this case, the flag of the genre is carried by Year of the Beast, by Cecil Castellucci, itself a hybrid of graphic novel and conventional text that has proven so popular in the wake of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  (As an aside, I am not blind to the irony that Levithan himself made a foray into this field with Every You, Every Me, another ‘hybrid’ I consider to be an abject failure.)  Notwithstanding references to Greek mythology, which may be heavy-handed depending upon how astute you think young adult readers should be -- my students aren’t -- I don’t feel as though I glean as much by way of exposition, character development, etc. from the limited dialogue provided; I’m just not as deeply invested in a graphic novel.

On a recent trip to MOMA, I happened upon a note suggesting that the average gallery patron allots less than three seconds to viewing each work of art.  Ostensibly, one visits expressly to absorb the minutiae of seminal works of art by the likes of Jackson Pollock and others, but is three seconds really worth a thousand words?  To an untrained eye such as mine -- those being old-and-tired too -- I would argue not, but perhaps I’ve just missed the boat, proverbially speaking.  Younger readers have honed their visual literacy to a much finer point, even by the age of thirteen, than I have at... well, older than that.  I wonder if my age-handicap (pardon the term) prevents me from seeing (pardon the pun) the appeal of graphic novels?  Perhaps a younger eye would appreciate aspects of design and visual motif that make this a compelling read -- think Daniel Pink -- but frankly, I think not.

At this point, I must to atone for my ample derision, as the ‘Smacked’ has eclipsed the laudable achievements of the ‘Smacker.’  I really enjoyed Every Day, which came as a surprise given my earlier sentiments regarding Levithan’s other work; but then, perhaps this was merely an old-and-tired affinity for Quantum Leap?  A colleague pointed out that the author’s position on gender and sexuality were not the most nuanced, true, but then I return to my earlier comments pertaining to Greek mythology.  I found the protagonist’s conflict compelling, if implausible, the nascent love between A. and Rhiannon engaging, and the resolution delightfully mature.  My only real complaint: why do I feel like I’m being set up for another trilogy?  That would be... wait for it... old-and-tired.

Post script: Our discussion resulted in a unanimous decision to advance Every Day, though several of our group did so with considerable apathy; could this be a bad omen for Mr. Levithan?

1 comment:

  1. I admit to a great deal of apathy. Much of our discussion centered around the graphic novel. Actually I enjoyed that part - though more as a clever party trick then thoughtful narrative. It was the written part for me that in some way left me wanting. Though I thought the sister conflict was believable I felt removed from it. Having said that Every Day isn't my favourite and I would be surprised if it moves on but some bracket combinations just lead to that. I liked some of the themes of Every Day and do agree that more kids will like it over Year of the Beasts but I thought it was a little heavy handed in parts it was ok but I continue my lonely search for more...