What the fuck do you kids see in this fluff? Honestly! I seriously doubt that this is what Bram Stoker had in mind when he created the modern vampire novel with the ultra-classic "Dracula." Where do you people get the idea to romanticize this stuff? And why is it breaking all sorts of box office records?
I suppose it should be noted that record-breaking box office films, quite frequently, are driven to such heights by women. And not just any women, either. We're talking over-emotional, love-struck, curiously-hyphenated tweens, teens and young adults. Think I'm bullshitting? Look at the giant sinking heap of chick flick that was Titanic. Ugh. Top grossing movie of all time, though. Yes, even higher than any Star Wars film, E.T., Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, Plan 9 from Outer Space, you name it. Titanic is number one. Why? Same reason New Moon currently rules the box office.
Well, I hate to do it to you, kids, but here's yet another smug blog post about how the Twilight Saga sucks, and how Stephenie Meyer is nowhere near an author of any worthy note whatsoever.
Get out your razor blades, emo kids, because this is going to be brutal and honest. Here are six Fantasy authors who make Stephenie Meyer look like a third-rate Theodore Geisel (with absolutely no disrespect to the legendary Seuss) wannabe.
1. J. K. Rowling - Oh yeah, I'm going there. Why does she come first? Because Jo Rowling is the one author that Meyer is commonly compared to. Which is better? Harry Potter or Twilight? Well, for my money (and yes, I've spent the money) it's boy wizard for the win. Case in point: There's far more believable character development in Rowling's legendary series. Despite the fantasy setting, Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Hogwarts students are easier to connect with, because they go through real life problems. Rowling's books also have the wonderful habit of growing with the reader: As they age, so do Harry and his friends, and the problems that come at each stage roll right along with it. Kids can find kindred spirits in nearly any of the plethora of personalities that exist within the walls of Hogwarts, whether you're a Colin Creavey or a Dean Thomas or a Lavender Brown or a Ginny Weasley or even a Vincent Crabbe. Wizards and witches or not, Rowling's kids are just that: nearly real, very believable kids. IMHO, that's a very good thing if you're hoping for a young reader to develop a love of books...
2. Trudi Canavan - I know, most of you are probably asking "Who?" Well, I'm pleased to inform you that Trudi Canavan is indeed a very real author, with a couple very real fantasy series that you should all check out! I was introduced to her through an advert in the back of a book by the next author on my list, and I was most certainly not disappointed with the portion of her work I've read so far! So, why is Trudi Canavan better than Stephenie Meyer? On this level, I think she writes a damn good female lead, as is evident in her Black Magician trilogy. A lot of people don't seem to buy females as lead characters in fantasy novels, but Canavan gives us a very real heroine to tag along with as she learns to live with rogue powers in a realm of magic dominated by men. There are love story undertones here and there, but Canavan herself has stated that she's not much of a "shipper," and leaves that to fanfiction writers. In other words, she can weave a side love story, but she doesn't get all emo about it.
3. Raymond E. Feist - Wow-wee-wow-wow-WOW! What started out as a group of friends playing in a custom old-school RPG world turned into a series of sword and sorcery novels that have got some serious teeth! Written while killing time as a campus security guard, Feist's "Magician" brought Midkemia to life, introducing us to the Riftwar Saga that would grow to span two more core novels, three subsequent sagas, and then expand into one of the first attempts at a multimedia franchise. It has grown to pretty much take up the most space by any one author on my bookshelf. So, where does Ray Feist beat Stephenie Meyer? One should rather ask themselves where he doesn't. Because yes, even in a world like that of the Riftwar, there are love stories to be told, battles of good versus evil, and all the stuff that the Twilight saga only wishes it could scratch the surface of.
4. Ursula K. Le Guin - Don't let the SciFi (now SyFy) Channel's adaptation, or even Miyazaki Goro's anime adaptation Gedo Senki, fool you. The EarthSea Cycle is one of the most imaginative fantasy series you'll ever read, hands down, bar none. While relatively short compared to some of its literary counterparts, it's most certainly not short on mythos or legend, nor is it afraid to write a bit of its own legend as you read. Think of the world of EarthSea as a planet dominated by ocean, and land comes in the form of island chains and mini-continents. There's a lot less sword and a bunch more sorcery, and an interesting tale of love and family along the way. Not your everyday fantasy fare, it stands on its own as a unique and engaging story. Whereas Meyer is like Anne Rice in Middle School. Eww.
5. C. S. Lewis - So, the Atheist is going with the Jesus Allegory Lion, is he? Yep, he is. Allegory aside, The Chronicles of Narnia still stand to this day as a near-perfect example of what a children's fantasy series could and should be. The story of four children - torn from their home and family by the Battle of Britain and the bombing of London - who take a magical journey through a peculiar wardrobe into a world of talking animals and everlasting winter is a fairy tale for kids of any age. While love stories might not be at the heart of the series, that doesn't really matter much at all, because the pure narrative keeps you too occupied to worry about such drivel. Every child should read this book. It's that simple. It's their first step into a much larger world of imagination and creativity.
6. J. R. R. Tolkien - Professor Lewis' contemporary, and the author of the single most legendary fantasy series of all time. The creator of Middle-earth, of Dark Lords and Wizards, Humans and Elves, Dwarves and Talking Trees, and the smallest of creatures doing the biggest of things. From the first pages of The Silmarillion to the last Appendices of Return of the King, Professor Tolkien took an idea scribbled on a napkin, coupled it with his love of linguistics, and wove the single greatest fantasy tale ever told. Steeped in mythology, language, lore and legend, The Chronicles of Arda (as the whole world is called by the Elves) stand in literary history as the Colossus - The Great Grand Pappy of them all. There is no way in hell Stephenie Meyer could ever dream of coming anywhere near the heights of the men who made up The Inklings.
So yeah. Anytime some emo Twilight freak asks you to name five authors who are better than Stephenie Meyer? Smile and say "I can name six." You kids need to get over your little sparkly vampire fluff. Quite frankly, there's a certain boy wizard and a certain dark lord who themselves have a final battle to fight, and something tells me that the opening weekend for Potter 8 (Deathly Hallows part 2) is going to make New Moon look like Leonard Part 6.
Enjoy your box office success. It won't last long. And there's absolutely no way that the Twilight Saga can even bother to try and hold a candle next to the above, in any form. You're officially on Fad notice, and can join Where's Waldo and Dick & Jane when your time comes.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009