Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Battle of the genres: bookstands set for takeover of top teen literary titans

By Kelsey Mejlaender, Copy Editor

The recent big-screen explosion of “The Hunger Games” and the tween-driven success of the almost complete “Twilight Saga” have made a lot of story lovers wonder what’s next. Whether you’re a fan of apples or arrows, it’s impossible to deny both of these novels-turned-movies are incredibly popular and profitable. Since moviemakers are now raiding their teens’ bookcases for inspiration, it’s interesting to wonder which one will strike box-office gold next.

“Beautiful Creatures:” the next "Twilight?"

Like its sparkly vampires predecessor, “Beautiful Creatures” is a supernatural love story.

Written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the book was released in December 2009.

It follows protagonist Ethan Wate as he becomes intrigued by the mysterious Lena Duchannes. Lena is a Caster — essentially a witch — whose powers will be claimed for either the light or the dark when she turns 16.

There are many similarities to “Twilight,” from the small-town setting to the hints the supernatural half of the couple may be dangerous. Despite the male protagonist, this does not seem like the type of book guys would read, or at least admit to reading.

The unwavering devotion Ethan gives Lena and the way his world revolves around her is just one shade short of the drug addict-like relationship of Edward and Bella. Not to mention Ethan is constantly complaining about his small town — yet another unpleasant Bella characteristic.

Overall the book was underwhelming and dragged on far too long at over 500 pages. With the tepid beginning — I had to force myself to continue — and some shaky loopholes, the book was nothing extraordinary. Then again, “Twilight” is no literary masterpiece and its bringing in buckets of money.

Admittedly, the movie trailer looks intriguing. The film’s best hope for actual quality is the stellar supporting cast. Oscar award winning actresses Emma Thompson from Harry Potter and Viola Davis from “The Help” both have roles. Even skilled actors can’t always save a weak plot, however.

Whiny protagonist — check. Bad writing — check. Phenomenally popular box office hit — let’s hope not.

"Divergent:" the next "Hunger Games?"

With a dystopian setting, youthful competition and a strong female lead, “Divergent” is reminiscent of “The Hunger Games.” The book was written by Veronica Roth and published in May 2011.

The plot centers on Tris Prior, who lives in a city where everyone is divided into five factions. At age 16, the citizens take a test that determines which faction fits them best.

Tris’ test results are inconclusive, proving she is actually Divergent and a threat to the society. Leaving the faction she was born in, Abnegation, she chooses to become an initiate of Dauntless. But the secret she harbors haunts her, putting her life at risk.

Similarly to “The Hunger Games,” this novel is written in the present tense and involves quick-paced action and violence. The characters must undergo an initiation process to become members of their faction, which pits the 16-year-olds against each other in a Hunger Games like style.

However, the book lacks the emotional depth of “The Hunger Games” and sometimes feels too rushed. Still, it was enjoyable and definitely a must for fans of the dystopian genre.

The “Divergent” movie is still in pre-production, but should arrive in theaters in March 2014. It’s rumored Shailene Woodley from “The Descendants” will play Tris and Alexander Ludwig, who played Cato in “The Hunger Games,” hopes to portray Tris’ love interest.

Though the book contains many of the flashy exterior elements of “The Hunger Games,” its failure to forge a deep emotional connection with readers may leave the movie’s box office numbers flagging.