Trina L Short (trinalin) wrote,
Trina L Short

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Books beget nostalgia

In many ways, books for me are as much about the places I was when I read them as they are about the stories within them. My old green chair from my bedroom (which rocked & squeaked - it was terrific) was home to a crucial reread of The Chronicles of Narnia. (It was the first time I read my own hardback copy of the series versus paperbacks or library hardbacks, and it was a time when I was a late teen instead of just "a kid.") Doctor Who's Missing Adventure Dancing the Code will always remind me of B-WISER camp. And The White Mountains trilogy (or Tripods trilogy to the rest of the universe) was an "under the covers after lights out" series where I read the entire book in one night. (I don't remember if I did that for all three books, but I'm pretty sure I did it for The White Mountains. It was a reread, IIRC.)

I just recently (as in finished Saturday night) revisited the world of the White Mountains and the Tripods. This came about because of another trilogy. I was at the local bookstore a couple weekends ago looking at young adult and children's books. I already had Kate DiCamillo's Tales of Despereaux and Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in my pile. The bookstore owner approved of my selection (admitting she loved Tulane even more than Despereaux) and suggested several other YA and children's authors. The one she had the most praise for and that intrigued me the most was Scott Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy.

At first I thought "Oh! Logan's Run for today's teens!" when I read the blurb. But then I got to thinking, what with it being a trilogy, it was more akin to The White Mountains for today's youngin's. And as I read through the first book, I thought, "Hmmm, I should reread The White Mountains trilogy when I get done." So when I finished Uglies, I did that. Besides, I wouldn't get to a bookstore until the weekend to buy Pretties and Specials to finish Westerfeld's trilogy.

I had several realizations while rereading John Christopher's trilogy. First, it sure is a "boys' own" novel. I had never noticed that when I read them originally. But the number of memorable females in the series are, um, two. And one of them catches like a girl. Heh. The other thing, which surprised me completely, was that I remembered many set pieces and plot details from The White Mountains and The City of Gold and Lead. But when I was reading the third book, The Pool of Fire, I remembered NOTHING. I know I've read it numerous times, but whereas I could think "Oh, this is the scene when..." in the first two books, I'd only ever remember stuff after it occurred in book 3. I even have trouble remembering the title of book 3. Go figure.

I enjoyed rereading the books, but they often had very abrupt transitions - especially when going from one book to the other. I know there have been attempts at making the books into movies and TV (I've not seen the UK series that covered books 1 & 2, but I understand Disney keeps promising to make it - they've had the rights since '97), but I wonder how such a boy's own book would work with today's audiences. When reading up on the series on Wikipedia (link above) I found out that the author (who's real name was Samuel Youd) replied regarding the lack of female characters "at the time of writing the series, it was generally accepted that girls would read books with boy main characters, but not vice versa" (the quote is from Wikipedia not necessarily word-for-word from Youd/Christopher). I wonder if that was true then and/or if it's true now.

Still, one thing that the Uglies trilogy has is female characters. The lead is female, but it's not a girly book (like, say, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - good book too, BTW). I'm about 1/4 into the second book, Pretties, and I'm finding it as captivating as The White Mountains was when I was a kid. But I'm a bit more sensible (and I have a job) so I'm not staying up all night reading it. Indeed, I should probably get to bed so I can read some before I conk out. The kitties are already asleep on my lap. They hate having to get up so that I can go to bed.
Tags: books
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