Oh to be 12 again!   2 comments

and I say that not just because I’d like to unload 50 years, but also because the entertainment world seems to be optimized for young teens right now.  There is such a wealth of great entertainment aimed at them that I’m blue with envy.  More about that later.

I always love it when I finish a book, especially a book that doesn’t make me cheer for the protagonist.  I could just put those turkeys down, but a certain kind of intellectual pride usually makes me carry through, even on bad books, to the finish.  Such is the case for The Stoneholding by James G. Anderson & Mark Sebanc.  It’s the start of a new fantasy epic to be published by Baen.  It’s the kind of book that gives young writers hope, and old writers ulcers.  It’s another fantasy epic.  The forces of evil are rising.  The forces of good are assailed on every side.  Not only that, but the forces of evil have everything going for them–manpower, cunning, magic,  The forces of good are basically complacent and stupid, but good-hearted.

Why I love the novels of Glen Cook–none of his characters are stupid.  Why I don’t like The Stoneholding–all of the characters are stupid.  This book is written for 12 year-olds who have never read a fantasy epic before.  They might like it.  I’d say it echoes Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or Brook’s Shannara books, except both of those authors are so much better writers. 

But let me give the book credit for the good things it does.  1.  There are some very pretty maps at the beginning.  2. It incorporates poetry into the story–really bad poetry that doesn’t scan most of the time, but still, give the authors points for trying. 3. It names the hero after Superman.  His name is Kal.  Kalaquinn, actually, but they mostly call him Kal.  Kal-El, is of course, Superman’s true name.  And Kal, our hero, is going to have to turn into Superman if he’s to succeed in saving the world from the rising power of Chaos.  Enough griping.  I’ve finished the book.  I rate it a C minus as novels go.  I’m giving it to the library.

In other news, when I got to work this morning I found a new graphic novel waiting for me.  It’s Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano, color by Paolo Lamanna, published by Disney.  For those who haven’t heard, the Artemis Fowl books have been the second-best thing in children’s fantasy literature for the last 5 years or so–right behind Harry Potter.   Artemis is a teen-aged evil mastermind, and the stories are written (mostly) for subteen boys.   They are clever stories, mixing magic and high technology in equal doses.  Each page has a secret code written in the margins–a simple substitution cypher that children can handle.

The art for the Artemis Fowl graphic novel is small, dark, and a bit twisted.  It looks like it’s computer generated and computer colored.  Suitable art for a cyber-age like our own.  It is not free-flowing  feast of primary colors like Superman.  There is more than a hint of manga influence with talking heads in every panel, but seldom do you see a whole body in action.

The first question that occurred to me was “why did a series of children’s books for the pre-teen set get translated into graphic novels for teens?”  Could it be that the graphic novels are harder to read than the original books?  I believe this graphic version of Artemis might well be harder to read and enjoy than the printed books.  Nevertheless, I will give it a try.

Still, I’d rather be reading Conan.  Artemis Fowl, very clever stuff, is boyish adventure for a boyish audience.  I feel like I’m about 50 years too old to properly enjoy this.


Posted September 14, 2009 by atroll in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Oh to be 12 again!

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  1. “…The forces of good are assailed on every side. Not only that, but the forces of evil have everything going for them–manpower, cunning, magic, The forces of good are basically complacent and stupid, but good-hearted…”

    There’s a Blues Traveler where the line is something similar to, “…Like a bad play, where the protagonist is always right, and nobody expects too much… .” That said, even re-reading Tolkien annoys me for how silly the epic fantasy was in the last two books of the trilogy.

  2. A lot of the children’s lit these days (Artemis Fowl, Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, Eragon) finds appeal beyond the intended age 10-14 market.

    I never did like reading Tolkien’s LOTR… I love the movies, but the latter 2 thirds of the written work just bore me. Far better to me to play in Tolkien’s world than read it.

    And some of us do enjoy the “Few heroes save the world at incredible odds”… heck, my favorite series are Bujold’s Vorkosigan, Cole & Bunch’s Sten, and Doohan & Sterling’s Flight Engineer. Then again, all of these have thinking villains, and thinking heroes, and incompetent admirals… not unlike a lot of history.

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