I'm having a very weird literary experience right now: I'm reading both the end of the Harry Potter books and the end of the Twilight books - first time through, on both counts.
I'll follow with a fuller review of both later, but just now I have to say that they've very different from each other, despite both being YA fantasy.
I've read Stephanie Meyer says her books are about love. And I've read that J. K. Rowling says her books are about death. And I can see why they'd each say what they've said.
But here's the thing, as I go back and forth between the two series: I think they've got it switched. For one thing, Meyer's love reads a bit more like lust to my eyes, and I can't help but twine that with the theme of death, as in "the wages of sin is". (Despite her best efforts - and her stories are very compelling - the "undead" never lose their creepiness. If you think about it, that's probably a good thing.) And there is death aplenty in the Rowling's books, but I keep thinking of, "No greater love has a man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." For all about her stories that makes me uneasy, in their best sections, they're about that kind of love.
And then, when I think about that verse, the "no greater love" one, I think about what Jesus said next, that he has called us his friends . . . and then I'm not thinking of Rowling's books or Meyer's books at all, but rather about Jesus.
There's only so much you can say about death and love in fiction before your mind forces you back to the bright light of the real world in order to sit and contemplate the victorious One who by dying conquered death, and that because of the great love He has for mankind.
And so I'm back to wondering why I read fiction at all. Perhaps because even in its imperfection, fiction prompts us to ponder reality in deeper and deeper ways. Perhaps it's even the imperfection itself that prompts us toward meditating on God and his mercies. When we read world-building exercises that are lacking in some areas, it makes us think about how they're lacking, and what is really true, in the real world, the one God Himself made. The good parts of the fiction show us the glories we might, for our blindness, have missed on our own (like how Aslan makes you realize what joy really means) and the imperfections make you yearn for the real, God-created world again (like how Edward Cullen makes you shiver at the idea of an all-human eternity).
I don't know - and I'm not trying to start a Harry Potter fight or a Twilight fight. I think in both cases you can make a decent argument for reading them and a decent argument against. (Though, disclaimer: I'm pretty sure Twilight would be bad for teenage girls full-stop, and not because of the vampires, but because, though the heroine saves herself for marriage, she acts nothing like the way a real girl wishing to be chaste would need to act. If you want to be chaste in the real world, you have to flee temptation, not wallow in it. That's just the reality of making the decision to wait till marriage. You have to be like the little sister in the Song of Songs, you have to be a battlement. And in terms of how virtue is practiced, Twilight is wildly unrealistic, and I don't mean unrealistic in the "there are no werewolves in real life" kind of way. Fantasy is supposed to be unrealistic in that way. But virtue is supposed to translate pretty directly in fantasy; that's the point of the genre, really. Bella's actions are just bad modeling, and Meyer is so good at making her situation emotionally appealing that I think the book hangover could be very damaging at that stage of life. I'm sure there are exceptions, but fifteen-year-olds aren't known for their objectivity, you know?)
Okay, I got way off track there. Anyway, anyone else read both series and have the same impression? Oh, and am I going to change my mind when I read the last few books?
peace of Christ to you,
p.s. Touchstone has an article in its upcoming issue about Twilight that sounds absolutely fascinating.