Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kill the Love Triangle (or, at least knock it unconscious for a while)

 Twilight.  The Hunger Games.  It seems like in the last few years YA literature has developed a love triangle fixation.

Now, I don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with love triangles, and I do acknowledge that some people have complicated love lives, and literature should represent a wide variety of relationships.

However, the obsession with love triangles has to stop.

The most obvious reason why writers shouldn't be so trigger-happy when creating love triangles is that there are just way too many poorly written love triangles out there.  In the vast majority of cases it's really obvious which character the writer prefers and which characters will end up together.  The relationships themselves are often really unrealistic, with some fairly cringe-worthy dialogue.

Secondly, I find that love triangles are becoming so ubiquitous that there seems to be a perception that they are almost a prerequisite for a young adult novel.  For instance *spoiler alert* towards the end of the Chaos Walking series, Ness makes a vague attempt to set up a love triangle. However, he clearly doesn't show much interest in the plot device, and after a brief mention it disappears and is never referred to again.

The final problem with the over-usage of the love triangle in young adult literature is that it is becoming a cliché. While there are some well-written love triangles out there, because of the sheer amount of them, all love triangles are collectively seen as banal.

YA writers should give the love triangle a well deserved break.

What are your opinions on love triangles?  Are there any ones that you particularly love/hate?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book review: A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

A Room with a View by E.M. Forester
(my own photo)
At the beginning of the summer, I set myself the admittedly slightly unrealistic goal of reading fifty books.  Now that the holidays are almost officially over, I can say with confidence that I'm not going to achieve that goal.  However, I did manage to read a lot of really great books, some of which I have been meaning to read for ages, and this is one of them.

A Room with a View is the story of Lucy Honeychurch, who travels to Florence chaperoned by her cousin, Charlotte.  When they complain about the fact that their room in the hotel doesn't have a view of the river, Mr. Emerson and his son George offer to swap places with them.  While Mr. Emerson sees it as a gesture of kindness, it is not seen as the "proper" thing to do.  Lucy has many interesting experiences while in Italy, including getting lost while sight-seeing, witnessing a murder, and going into the surrounding hills.  This holiday shapes her perspective on the world and her future actions.

Overall, it was an incredible book.  I thought that the characters were all very memorable and varied.  The relationship between Lucy and George was really romantic and I thought that it was beautiful.

While it didn't really have the satirical edge of Jane Austen, the social commentary was still really effective.  Sadly, too many of the issues that Forester discusses are still relevant today.

In conclusion, this novel is amazing in so many different ways, it has stood the test of time for all the right reasons.

Chances of finding it in my imaginary bookstore? 95%

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Completely Unexpected Tales by Roald Dahl

Completely Unexpected Tales by Roald Dahl
(my own photo)
Like so many other children, I read a lot of Roald Dahl when I was younger.  When I found this book I was immediately curious about it; would it be like the books I grew up with, or would it be something completely different?

It turned out to be a bit of both. While his stories do contain the fantastical elements of his children's books, they are definitely aimed at adults.

This book is a collection of short stories, and they are full of really dark humour, which I enjoy, but it also contained some really interesting premises and ideas.

They were nice, relaxing reading, and the stories covered varying themes and time periods. The stories were a good length; long enough to develop the characters and plot without being long-winded.

By calling the collection "Completely Unexpected Tales", it encouraged me to expect the unexpected.  I was always thinking ahead, and trying to figure out what the twist at the end was.  So, ironically enough, I managed to guess the twists in most of the stories, so they weren't really unexpected at all.

However, there is a unexpected surprise for all Harry Potter fans.

Chances of finding it in my imaginary bookstore:  75%