I found an advertisement this morning for a novel titled “Faking 19” by Alyson Noël.
“Two Girls, Two Fake I.D.’s, One Little White Lie.
Alex and M. are so over senior year. Orange County is a bore, and they’re sick of everyone at their school. So, armed with fake I.D.’s, the 17-year-old girls check out L.A.’s nightlife. At first, Alex is having the time of her life – who wouldn’t want to party at Hollywood mansions and ultra-cool clubs?
But, as the fun begins to wear off, Alex starts to realize that it may take more than a fake I.D. to really grow up…”
I have never had the opportunity to hang around with many teen girls, but if most of them are anything like what that blurb describes, I don’t have any regrets. More seriously, I wonder about the potential audience for this book and the intended effect that the moral is supposed to have. It seems like a bait and switch.
There is an obvious attempt at glamorizing the main characters and the fake I.D. plot. The picture on the ad is of two darkly tanned teen girls, both talking on cell phones next to and in a fancy new car and I would venture a guess that it would take more than a fake I.D. to get into a Hollywood mansion (assuming, of course, that we aren’t talking about the Playboy mansion, which not only requires an I.D. but also a willingness to get implants and make out with Hugh Hefner). There is a hint that there will be a moral at the end but you will notice that the fake I.D. and wild partying is not portrayed as anything but a great idea, it just doesn’t help you grow up any faster. It is most likely a clever ploy at attracting the teen girl that reads the line that says “Now available wherever books are sold” and thinks to herself “Whatever, like, how am I supposed to know where to get a book?” long enough to deliver the message at the end.
I wonder how well this would really work. Thinking back to when I was a young chap, it would be like watching an episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon full of red and blue lasers flying between the ranks of Joe and Cobra troops only to be treated at the end to Wetsuit telling the audience that hurting other people is wrong and concluding with a resounding “Go Joe!” Maybe it would work better if they showed violence being wrong from the beginning of the show rather than just a pathetic attempt at the last 2 minutes.
This isn’t to say that having a main character that changes through the course of the book is bad but I think that if you are trying to change someone else’s mind, it may not be the best approach. Using the violence angle again, if I read a book that had a gung ho military commander that eventually comes to see that war is a bad thing, I might very well enjoy it. Not surprising given that I already agree with the final message. On the other hand, if I read a book about an avowed pacifist that eventually sees the good in death and becomes a sniper I would be less inclined to sing its praises. It certainly wouldn’t change my mind. A better tactic, in my view, would be to show the actions of the people that “need to be killed” in a very despicable way. Graphic depictions of the exploits of serial rapists and puppy killers would do more to convince me that some people should be shot than some fictional character’s epiphany ever would. The author needs to create a catalyst to change me, not someone in the land of make-believe.
On the other hand, how would the marketers ever get me to read this book? I can’t imagine it would be an easy task. This leads me to question why the author wants to change my mind to begin with. There must be an agenda. A thought that if more people thought about the subject matter in the same way then the world would be a better place. Implicitly, the author does not think like me. Would such a person have much of an ability to deliver an effective life-changing event to someone they don’t really understand? Even worse, every person that reads to book is going to be different. Targeting an argument to one person is one thing, but trying to create one that affects the minds of a great many people is something completely different.
That’s it. I am so over trying to change people’s minds.