SO OMG MAZE RUNNER FEELS
There’s a ton of haterade in my feed today after the debut of my BRAND NEW FAVORITE MOVIE OMG, and I feel like sometimes I have to explain my fandom as a result.
I come to YA not just as a reader (and book reviewer, although I generally don’t review YA professionally), but as a mother. And if you have never tried to get kids to read books in the young adult genre, let me tell you: there’s not a lot out there once they pass middle grade.
I know some of you are probably staring at this post and your jaws are moving and no sound is coming out and you’re pointing, but here me out:
There aren’t a lot of YA books that don’t have romance as a part of them.
Now go back to that list you were making in your head while dog-whistle-like noises were the only things you were capable of making, and let me know how many of those books have no romance in them. Zero. How many of those books have the main character thinking about getting a date or having a date or should they make out or whatever.
Now imagine you have a teen (or two) who has NO INTEREST IN DATING. This isn’t even part of their experience yet. Maybe it won’t ever be. And yet every book about people in their age range makes it seems like dating is the be-all and end-all of being a teenager.
Is The Maze Runner a perfect book? OMG, no. If a perfect book is ever written, why would we need more? But The Maze Runner is a book that doesn’t have more than a whiff of romance (even in the subsequent two books, so please with the side-eying… it’s still not about romance). These kids are all in the same boat, so we don’t have super-special snowflake heroine who’s totally normal into put in this extreme situation. Instead, we have Thomas, who’s just as confused as everyone else in the Glade, and has no fucking clue, and basically helps everyone stumble their way out because he’s a little more curious, but not exactly the savior of a generation able to lead adults to a new government while choosing between two heroes who are essentially picked for her (I’m looking at you, Katniss Everdeen).
Are some things heavy-handed? Sure. I actually loved the things that were cut from the book to the movie, because I felt like there were things in the book that went on needlessly long for a movie experience to portray them correctly.
On top of that? We have a cast heavy on the POCs with NO TOKENS. I’m looking at the Hunger Games movies, and I’m not seeing a lot of skin other than a nice, pretty peach. Oh wait. We had Rue and her district partner, and we all know what happened to them.
Cool thing for me to see? I’ve been to Twilight and Hunger Games and a boatload of other YA films. This is the first time I have seen people of color IN THE AUDIENCE ON OPENING NIGHT.
There were guys in the audience — and I don’t just mean teenagers with their girlfriends. Adult men. This was the widest span of different types of folks I’ve seen in a YA movie audience pretty much ever.
There’s nothing wrong with books written for teen girls, and that accompanying audience. But I don’t want movies that are written just for teen girls, especially when they are “Oh sure, you can be a badass and save the world, but in the end, here’s your love triangle.”
I want books that portray the batshit stuff governments will do in the name of “helping.” I want a wide range of skin colors, so my kids and all their friends feel like the people on the screen are just like them. And I want a bunch of teens who aren’t really all that special who muddle their way around and still come out okay, because THAT is really what being a teen is all about, and not necessarily just dealing with all those hormones.
P.S. Jesus God, that cast, though.