applespice: it is a sparkly fairy (Default)
Somewhere along the way in my YA fiction craze, I've gotten too used to "the good stuff." I've read too many fantastic young adult books lately to take anything less than the best seriously. It must be something like the filthy, stinking, ridiculously rich, who are so used to their diet of massaged Kobe beef burgers and other gourmet delights that even a bit of our slovenly peon food makes them nauseous. Of course, everyone has a different interpretation of "the best," but we'll leave that alone.

See, I used to love my trashy, poorly-written YA books. I cherished them, flagrant overuse of the thesaurus and shoddy characterization aside. They were like candy - fun and tasty, but ultimately empty calories. I loved the things. It's easy to come across this kind of fiction in any genre, really, and as someone who gravitates toward the fantasy side of things, I read my fair share of sub-par writing. Hell, I religiously read the Dragonlance series once (or twice, or three times) a year for half a decade. I loved any and all Mercedes Lackey books I could get my hands on. This isn't meant to slam those books or their authors, but let's face it, they aren't exactly the top of the pile of well-written fantasy.

Even so, I loved them. I know that technically they don't fall under the YA header, but I'm counting them there because they were the books of my young adulthood. But now, I can't read them anymore. And I'm having problems getting past a few chapters in any book that doesn't stand up to the likes of The Book Thief, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, or The Princess Bride. When you've had the best, how can you go back to the rest?

Maybe this book snobbery is fleeting. In a way, I hope so. Every book has its place, and I wouldn't want to discount one just because it doesn't fit in with the Higher Order of present-day young adult fiction!
applespice: it is a girl in an interesting hat ([the fall] evelyn)
Last week, I read The Book of Lost Things, by John Connelly, and it got me thinking about fairy tales. By the way, I highly recommend it if you are interested in things like fairy tales, mythology, the "hero's quest" style of storytelling, or even coming-of-age stories. I really enjoyed it!

One of the things that I enjoyed most about it was the dark and twisted retelling of some of those classic fairy tales. Of course, most of us know that in their original incarnations the stories were dark and twisted, and over the course of time were Disneyfied for easier digestion among a more sheltering parental set. As I grow older, I find that I much prefer the old stories (or the newer tales that return to that original grit and darkness). They're gory, unpleasant, and usually very sexual - explicitly or implicitly. They give me a funny little jolt in my stomach as I read them, and while I am horrified to read of monsters eating children or copulating with human women, I can't deny that they're fascinating.

Fairy tales and, on a grander scale, mythology, always seem to reach right into your gut and tug you in. Maybe it's the lineage of the stories; knowing that they have existed, in some form, for centuries, if not longer. They're printed on the insides of our skulls, somehow familiar and somehow alien, no matter the telling. Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself, and other people don't feel the same magnetic attraction to the old stories. Either way, I find them terribly compelling.

Anyone else enjoy a good dark and disturbing fairy tale? If so, are there any other books or stories you could recommend to me? I've read several works on the subject, but can't recall the titles of all of them immediately.

Anyway, let's just chat about the stories themselves. What do you think about them? Compelling or repelling? Interesting or boring?

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How About Them Apples?

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