Every week, Figment features a blog that we think is all kinds of wonderful. This week, we’re featuring Michelle of Galleysmith!
It was The Hunger Games that first turned Michelle on to YA lit. Previously, the educator and technologist’s blog, Galleysmith, leaned more towards chick lit reviews. Formed after a brief bout with illness-induced lethargy inspired Michelle to explore the book blog community, Galleysmith runs reams of YA reviews nowadays, with an educational eye to the genre.
Figment asked Michelle: We’re interested in the fact that, along with the typical run-down of book stats, you highlight a book’s “teachable moments”. Do you find YA lends itself particularly to didactic inspiration? Does sleuthing out the core of a book’s morality ever lead to surprising revelations?
One of my favorite things about Galleysmith is that I thought to add the “teachable moments” to my review. I think all books in some way teach us something (whether intended or not) so to pull that out and provide what I thought were elements of a book that lend themselves to classroom instruction or deeper discussion seemed sensible. Doing so also provides a jumping off point for a reader to create relationships with other books; a round-about way of creating lists.
It’s impossible not to look for, or at, deeper meaning in a book when looking for a theme or something that stands out as “teachable”. My intention when adding the information to my reviews wasn’t one based on morality as much as it was about getting to those core themes of a book that an educator or parent could grasp hold of and use as a tool. Having said that, in a book that centralizes on a controversial or particularly difficult theme it’s unlikely that the discussion won’t head in the direction of motivation and morality. I hope that in pulling some of those themes out readers walk away from my review knowing they will have something additional to think about and discuss.
Your blog reveals that you’ve been reading a lot of dystopia of late. Do you feel the genre’s overplayed at this point, or are you still finding fresh material?
Interesting question! I don’t think dystopian is less fresh than any other genre. Contemporary, paranormal, mystery it doesn’t matter all are going to bring with them a degree of repetition. For me, I’m happy to read across the genre because I know even though there are books of similar plot most have different characterizations, motivations and nuances. It’s all really about personal preference and knowing what works for you as a reader.
Is dystopian played out? Hmmmm, I think for some it is. But, I also think that when success happens (in this case I’ll use The Hunger Games as an example) the industry tends to grab hold hoping for the next big thing along the same lines. A reasonable and wise business decision on their part. However, what appears to happen is an over abundance of that genre rolling out. I can see where readers who like more variety, or readers who see the amount of their favorite genre diminished to compensate for the glut, would feel it is played out. But not me, I still enjoy it!
Visit Galleysmith at galleysmith.com!