1) Mention a vampire
2) Mention a werewolf
(Thank you, Twitlight. But that's beside the point.)
3) Turn the book into a preaching platform
There we go -- today's topic.
Really, people don't read fiction to hear the author's opinion on anything other than what pertains to the story. It's annoying, it's something that everyone can't agree with, and it totally interrupts the plot. I don't read to learn anyone's stand on global warming or environmental awareness (ahem, The Final Warning and MAX: A Maximum Ride Novel, both by James Patterson. Max is still great, though), politics, the economy, etc. -- unless it directly relates to the story.
That said, I think it's amazing when books teach us about important life issues -- when it's done right. Some of my favorites do this, without ever outright saying "War is bad" or "Be true to yourself". Not only are these stereotypes (not all wars are bad; being yourself is great and all, unless you happen to be an axe-murderer or cannibal or Twihard), they need to be handled with more subtlety. Here are a few of those favorites, in no particular order:
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Of course, being slightly biased, I consider all my favorite books amazing, but this one is especially so. That's mainly because of my favorite character, Phineas, but the book also touches on deeper subjects, especially the darker side of the human nature. (Really, we aren't so nice.) While it takes place at a boy's school during World War II, the focus is more on internal war. And while I would've judged the book by the cover (and synopsis and setting) and expected it to be boring, probably not even giving it a chance, it's now my favorite. I'm primarily a fantasy reader, so that's definitely saying something.
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Most people have read this one, so I don't have to go into as much detail -- but the way she handles themes like war, violence, and freedom seems so effortless, so smoothly integrated, it never ceases to amaze me. Okay, the gushing is over.
- Uglies trilogy/series (I guess it depends on your opinion, and whether or not you include Extras) by Scott Westerfeld. It hits a whole range of themes, from self-acceptance to society's place and influence to, again, freedom. Even with all that going on, it doesn't seem too busy, and the world-building's fabulous.
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Again, this is an obvious pick, which is part of why I couldn't leave it out. Good and evil, fighting over power (of the ruling and magic variety) -- it's all there.
This lecture on lectures was presented in blog form, so I decided to ignore the irony and go with it.