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Beautiful Darkness

May 29, 2011

As everybody knows, there is a crazy abundance of ‘dark’ love stories for teens at the moment.  Vampires, werewolves, whatever so long as its ‘supernatural‘ and romantic – there are heaps of them and lots of them are very good.  Indeed, the Twilight phenomenon has joined forces with Harry Potter to put Young Adult Literature back on the map; there is an increasing interest in YA Lit since it has become evident that it is something you can both make money from and reach audiences with!

Impossible Love…

The thing that really bugs me about these books, though, is the painfully never-ending supply of difficulties impeding the romance. They go on and on…

There is an element of episodic TV viewing in here, I guess – you keep the audience coming back to see if tonight, finally, ‘they’ll get together’. We do have this crazy human need for closure… but we are equally happy to accept that TV (and books like this?) will also always keep the lovers apart – so that the story never actually ends and we keep coming back!

Beautiful Darkness

In any case, I was reading Beautiful Darkness, wondering whether the History (with an ‘H’) of America’s ‘Civil War‘ was being revisited in this text (which would be interesting; is voicing the Southern experience made more palatable if it’s given a supernatural bent?) …

… the appeal of unfailing commitment and loyalty – no matter what!

and of course I was getting annoyed with teen romance when I started thinking, does this theme of the impossible but incessantly sought after love (think Twilight, Vampire Academy, etc) pull the reader in through the appeal of unfailing commitment; loyalty that never dies?  Forget about the romance and the lust… is the appeal in the possibility of a permanent connection to at least one other person in this world of shifting communities and unexpected changes?

Is it the loyalty and commitment that keeps us hanging on? …rather than the need for happy romantic endings, that is?

I’m just wondering; are all these physically, socially, morally impossible-but-determined love stories connected to the adolescent’s ‘need’ for social support? I have perviously wondered about the importance of urban tribes in these books, but it was Beautiful Darkness that really got me wondering…  (Consider the moment when: Ethan has just found out how truly madly deeply Lena loves him; he commits to saving her no matter the cost (death, perhaps, etc).  As he embarks on this quest with renewed vigour, he messages her “I’m coming, L.  Whether you want me to or not.” (344) ‘Whether you want me to or not’?… you just can’t buy loyalty like that!

… the fear of being alone…

Two pages later, this idea is reinforced for me; Ethan is reeling from having to see the world differently and wonders: “If she had known what she was choosing, would she have chosen differently? I owed my life to her, but I didn’t feel happy.  All I felt was brokenness.  The fear of dirt and nothingness and being alone.” (346) Yes, ‘the fear of being alone‘! My point exactly…

I don’t think we really have any of this style of fiction coming out of NZ (which is also a little interesting), so I’m not making connections with my proposed topic of NZ fic here… I’m just wondering out loud for now – I’ll probably come back to this!

PS I haven’t yet read David Hair’s Bone Tiki trilogy, though I have it there waiting, but just read a review that made me think maybe this is worth mentioning in light of all the supernatural interest… (check out the Southland Times review)… and possibly Paula Morris’s Ruined or Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead

(NOTEBeautiful Darkness is the second of The Caster Chronicles, following on from Beautiful Creatures.  It’s getting some great reviews and is being linked up with the likes of Stephanie Meyer, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr.


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