Friday, August 10, 2012

Even Juvenile Fiction Gets Ruined by Sequels

Shortly after starting work in a book store, I learned that Margaret Peterson Haddix's 1998 kids sci-fi classic Among the Hidden had sequels. Actually, it had six of them.

A pretty decent run, truthfully, and one that made the smart decision to mature as its readers did. By the end, half the characters are hardened killers, army deserters, and revolutionaries. Sounds pretty great for kids.

Today I learned that another dystopian dream novel from my middle school years had a sequel of sorts: Lois Lowery's The Giver. No one believed it. A quick Wikipedia search revealed that Lowery wrote a book called Messenger, a sort of loose sequel taking place in the same world as 1993's Giver and also her 2000 novel, Gathering Blue. She even has a fourth book coming out this year.

How did we miss all this? I loved The Giver as a kid. It was the only book with such  a down, ambiguous ending we were forced to read, completely unlike the horrifying, survivalist literature we'd been spoon fed the last five or so years. How did I never find out that Lowery wrote a sequel?

Because it came out in 2004. I hadn't read The Giver in probably six years. I was applying to college. Young adult fiction was not on my plate. However one coworker was still confused. Surely we had at least known about Gathering Blue, having obviously taken place in the same setting and being by the same author.

No, I certainly wouldn't have. Still, my comrade's head cocked to one side.

"It came out in 2000," I said.

"I was seven."

I- Ah … no … I … No.

I just sort of removed my glasses and double face-palmed for about two minutes while our third bookseller explained my horror and sudden incapacity for rational communication to this boy. I don't often feel old. I'm 25, I shouldn't. But something to universal as being forced to read The Giver in school, that was an unexpected turn for me. I was twice this boy's age when Gathering Blue came out.

I asked him when he watched "Power Rangers" what type of things were the Zords, animals or cars?

He lulled me, he really did. He said animals, then crazy beasts. He said he loved "Power Rangers" and the movie, and all of it. Then he forgot Zordon's name–which I myself have done many times, sometimes genuinely and other times feigned to save face amongst normal people–but then I realized his timeline was all off.

"Wait, were you seeing reruns or new episodes?" I asked.

"You saw new episodes??"

Quintuple facepalm.

Bitch, I had to wait for the movie because it was the first thing the Americans filmed entirely on their own, and I was let down by parts. I was old enough to be let down by parts of a movie. I had to watch episodes of "V.R. Troopers" and "Beetleborgs" and "Superhuman Samurai Cyber Squad" while I waited for them to overdub more Japanese episodes. I watched the bug-based "Kamen Rider" for godsake.

"Teenagers with attitude." These kids will eff you up
to an Edgar Winters soundtrack, turtlenecks and all.
Everything you loved as a child gets ruined eventually. Just pray you're the one who gets paid to do the ruining and you avoid ever meeting anyone more than four years younger than you.

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