by Megan S.
Watching Beautiful Creatures on Friday got me thinking about classic science fiction and fantasy literature. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (authors of the novel the film was based on) set out to prove to their teenage audience that books like Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird weren't boring or outdated and it's a theme that runs throughout Beautiful Creatures. Classic literature can have a profound impact on the way we see the world around us even though parts of the premise that was so groundbreaking at the time may seem commonplace now. Garcia and Stohl's story hammers home that the concepts within classic lit still have much to teach readers.
So, I wondered what genre novels would I want my kids to read even if they seem a bit anachronistic now. What classic lit novels have shaped the way I understand life and would do the same for new young readers?
The first three books that came to mind were Lord of the Flies, Anna to the Infinite Power, and 1984. After shows like Lost and Survivor, the idea of a group of mostly strangers being stranded on a deserted island doesn't seem particularly terrifying now but the notion of how easy it is for society and civility to breakdown is still scary as hell. Even more, the bullying and mob mentality present throughout the book are very much relevant to what most children face every day at school and online.
Anna to the Infinite Power is also another one that let me explore new avenues of thought. Though it probably isn't considered classic literature, the children's book about cloning was the first time I read about nature versus nurture. It was also one of the first books that showed me, through Anna's fight compared to the actions of her clones, that I could steer my own future.
Finally, it seems like these days Little Brother is much more of a threat than Big Brother what with every embarrassing public moment showing up on YouTube, but Orwell's story about a totalitarian government is still very relevant. Not only did I learn what a danger unchecked power could be in 1984, I also realized how attractive drinking the Kool-Aid and buying into the lies could be when it means lessening your own suffering.
So, how about you? What novels do you think are unstuck in time? Which ones would you recommend future generations read in spite of any anachronisms? Which genre books shaped how you see the world around you?