Sunday, October 9, 2011

Recycling Plot Lines

There are only so many plotlines in the world, and stories often borrow elements from each other.  I don't mind that.  Authors reuse story lines because we like them.  I love tomatoes, and could eat them every day of my life.  So I'm not going to reject a meal with tomatoes in it just because it's not original enough.  But some books take this too far.

Recently I read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  A young, semi-orphaned, misfit boy, around whom mysterious events sometimes happen, discovers that he's not normal.  He has magic powers.  So he goes away to a sort of school for other people like him, who are divided into different houses.  Once there, he makes friends with a smart, rather know-it-all girl, and a clumsy, somewhat cowardly boy.  He learns of prophecies surrounding him—the Chosen One—and discovers he is the only one who can avert the upcoming doom.  Hmm…  Sound familiar?  Really, Rick Riordan, can't you at least make the male friend the brainy one and the female friend the clutzy one?  Or give him three friends?  Or NOT divide the school into houses?  Or make Harry…um, I mean Percy...less of a misfit to begin with?              

Haven, by Kristi Cook, features a girl who goes to a new school and there meets an incredibly hot guy.  Instant mutual attraction.  All her new friends are like, "What?  He never even looks at girls!"  One day he's perfectly attentive.  The next he disappears for days.  It turns out he's super fast, super strong, and cool to the touch.  Everyone's attracted to him.  He can read minds.  Her blood drives him wild.  Oh, yeah, and he's a vampire.  Kristi Cook, couldn't you at least not make him a mind reader?  Or make him rather warm to the touch?  Or make her blood smell bad? 

Midnight for Charlie Bone, by Jenny Nimmo, is the story of a boy who has unpleasant relatives and magic power, a legacy of his ancestors.  He goes to a special boarding school, finds Ron and Hermione-like friends, and solves a magical mystery.

Of course, I guess none of that's as bad as the book I saw on the shelves in the Czech Republic, showing a boy with a lightning scar, a girl with frizzy hair, and a red-headed friend.  I think it was called Harry Trotter, but I can't find it on the internet.  I find Barry Trotter and Harry Pouter and various other spoofs.  A spoof, I appreciate.  A book that is not a spoof, yet borrows so heavily…that's just sad.  

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