The Hunger Games. Enders Game. Harry Potter. What do all of these books have in common you ask? At various points of my life, I’ve mocked others for reading them because they were YA. Up on Shadowfax, my high horse, I looked down at every one who read them. Or similar books in the genre. But I can happily say I am not one of those snobs anymore. And the enjoyment I got from reading “I Am Not A Serial Killer” and “Mr. Monster” is confirmation on the matter.
I still haven’t read the final book in Dan Wells trilogy, ” I Don’t Want to Kill You”, but I’m pretty close to spending full price at the local Barnes and Noble. Ridiculous, I know. But books will do that sometimes. Just like women. Lead you to make rash decisions. And it’s not just any book that’s doing this to me, it’s a Young Adult book. I’m 25 YEARS OLD. I lose my parents health insurance in under a year, that’s some Regular Adult shit right there. I feel like a pervert reading this stuff, right? Wrong. No need to lend me that copy of “Crime and Punishment”. I don’t want it.
Looking back on it, I was a huge hypocrite for teasing my friends. Secretly, I wanted to read The Hunger Games. For nothing else but to see what all the fuss was about. I’m like a conservative christian. All you hear me do is preach family values and how marriage is between a man and woman. A few months pass and you find me with a guy. Or a prostitute. Sometimes it’s a guy prostitute! In my mind, I was no better than any of them (the politicians. Not the prostitutes.).
All I ever hear is how we don’t read anymore. Specifically when it comes to literature (you know, not counting websites, wikipedia, tweets, etc). I don’t think that’s true. I’d argue that more people are reading now more than ever. And I think Young Adult books have everything to do with that. Just look at “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games”. What books in the 60s, 70s, 80s, had a following like they do? Maybe Stephen King? Maybe. But highly unlikely. Millions of people read these books. The summer blockbusters they make certainly don’t hurt their causes. I’m not going to argue about their content. Some will say it’s garbage, and maybe so. But I don’t care. I’m more interested in how many readers they are breeding. You ever realize how hard it is to make friends in a new area? Well, it’s twice as hard to find someone who reads. Oh, and to find someone who reads fiction? A billion times as hard.
Dan Wells books aren’t much different from any other Young Adult novels. The protagonist is a 16 year old boy who is fascinated with serial killers. Deep inside him he has the urge to become what he loves. And he knows it. Luckily for every one else, he has a strict set of rules he follows to prevent himself from succumbing to these urges. Until one day a dead body shows up in his small town. Then another one. And another. Apparently there’s a real serial killer in his small town. What if the only way to stop him is to let out the hidden serial killer out? Sure, they have some of the same tropes as other YA books. No cursing, no sex, poorly written females (not a case for all of them, but many that I’ve read), not much gore (and this is a book about serial killing). But it’s addicting. And it makes me want to read more. More of this series. More from this author. More reading in general.
The Young Adult genre is like a gateway drug. “Harry Potter” was the marijuana that lead me to Tolkiens cocaine. They help lead you, not to better, but more reading.
It wasn’t this series that made me a changed man. But it compelled me to write about my past as a “Young Adult Snob”. There will be book snobs no matter what. “Ugh, you read Stephen King? He’s a hack”. “I only read non-fiction. Sorry I like to learn something when I’m reading”. “The Hunger Games?! Dude my 6th grade sister reads that. Doosh alert!”. They’ll always be there. I’m just happy to officially call myself “snob free”. Well, unless you don’t read books at all that is….