I’m not really sure why I’d like to put myself through so much pain, but I think this year I’m going to read a book called Little Brother. For anyone who doesn’t know, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is the rewritten version of the classic book 1984 by George Orwell. As the title may suggest, it’s a “softer” version written specifically for teenagers. As I’m sure several of the other Teen Center Advisors can tell you, I’m definitely one of those people who unconditionally LOVES 1984 and everything about it, but even if I wasn’t, I still think I’d have a bit of a problem with the book Little Brother. As a teen who reads, I find myself asking the same question as I browse through bookstores again and again: Does EVERYTHING need a teen version?
Usually, I can understand why authors choose to write teen books, and why publishers choose to publish them. I can even understand why some teenagers actually read teen books. A lot of them are admittedly good reads, and they’re usually lighter and easier to understand than adult fiction can be. But is it really necessary to rewrite classic literature in order to get teens interested in the heavy subjects that it can sometimes cover? As a literate teen, I find it insulting to my maturity and my intelligence that authors and publishers don’t think I can handle reading the original version of a book. I think that teen books are important, and the literacy that they can promote can and should certainly encourage teenagers to read classic books, but when authors start watering down literal art so that kids can “digest” it easier, not only does it degrade the book, it makes teens feel like they’re not smart enough to read the real version.
I predict that Orwell’s 1984 will not be the last book to be teen-ified. Just think of the possibilities! Cervantes’ Don Quixote could become Dawn Key-hottie, the story of an adventurous girl and her highschool conquests based on her obsession with books (a win-win for the publishing industries). Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies would take virtually no effort since they’re already about young people; all that would really matter would be to make the characters a lot hotter and Edward Cullen-esque. The real struggle would be things like Beowulf or Ulysses, but I imagine that some enthusiastic authors could have a great time rewriting the entire thing to appeal to teens. All they’ll need is time.
Georgia, 17, Teen Center Advisor