The world rescue theory of mainstream literature

In tammypierce folks have been talking about why they read–or don’t read–books along the lines of Gossip Girls or The A List.

I’ve been on a mainstream YA reading kick the past couple weeks, reading a mix of “trashy” and not-so-trashy non-fantasy YA books, and this discussion made me, in my free-associating way, think of something.

Sometimes, when I read a mainstream book, I find myself muttering things at the characters along the lines of, “Yes, your petty problems are all fine and well, but I’d really find you more interesting if you’d forget all that and just go save the world, or do something else useful with yourself.”

For the trashier end of my current reading, I still found myself thinking that, even as I took a sort of mindless guilty pleasure in same.

But for the really good mainstream stuff? The thought never even crossed my mind.

So I propose a new standard by which to judge mainstream literature. The more often a fantasy reader thinks, “Oh, just forget all that and go save the world, will you?” the lower the quality of the book. 🙂 (Just add it to the Ninja Replacement Score on your list of critical tools.)

With that in mind, R.A. Nelson’s Teach Me and especially Ellen Wittlinger’s Hard Love are amazing reads. I was engrossed enough in the worlds of the protagonists that not once did I think any worlds needed saving but their own.

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