Disclaimer: May contain spoilers,
but you should read the books before
watching the movies, anyway. Unless
it’s Neil Gaimen’s novel “Stardust,” in
which case the movie is better than
the book. (Spoiler) Robert De Niro
plays a cross-dressing pirate, and it’s
As John Lennon sang in “All You
Need is Love,” “There’s nothing you
can do that can’t be done.” He was
singing of the balance between originality
and unoriginality, and the same
applies to the young adult genre and
blockbuster movies targeted towards
the young whippersnappers of today.
More and more it feels as though every
movie and book is the same story
over and over. So much so that there’s
a very predictable formula that follows
these novel and movie sagas,
plaguing readers to pluck the books off
the shelves. NPR’s pop-culture blog,
MonkeySee, describes it as “teenager
catnip,” a very apt description.
First, every story in the expository
stage begins with the hero or heroine
of the story. Our hero is brave, magically
athletic, and almost immortal.
The hero contains a convenient family
complex that in some way shapes
the story. He’s an orphan (Harry Potter),
she’s moving the moon for her
sister (Katniss Everdeen), his father
is missing (Percy Jackson). The main
character’s two best friends also happen
to be one male and one female,
appealing to all genders, right? Right?
The hero is destined to save the
world. An obscure prophecy was
foretold and now the hero can’t back
out. “Sorry, guys,” Katniss Everdeen
apologizes profusely, “I just don’t
want to be the propaganda symbol
that launches Panem into nuclear
war.” The series would end, or the
heroine would return to a somewhat
normal lifestyle instead of risking her
life on a day to day basis.
Whether it’s the Order of the
Phoenix (Harry Potter) , Camp Half-
Blood (Percy Jackson), or District 13
(Hunger Games), the hero is always
integrated into an underground society
no one knew existed until it
became convenient to drive the plot.
Adults, who never tried to overturn
their oppressive society, eventually
have to parent these reckless children
who do their job for them.
Lastly, someone has to die. A character
has to take one for the team and
get killed because it’s Young Adult.
Half of that genre is ‘Adult’, and in
grown-up books someone normally
bites the dust. Teenagers know it’s
a good book based on how many of
their favorite characters lost their
lives. This dystopian genre has been
played out. Shakespeare started clichés,
continued clichés, but he also
ended the use of certain clichés. Will
the author of the latest reiteration,
known as the Divergent series (Veronica
Roth), end the cliché as well?