So while we're still chugging cheerily through Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, and Midnight Sun, it's probably about time to start thinking about what deconstruction(s) might be fun to do in conjunction with the Twilight posts. So it's polling time!
Ground rules for the polling should be established first. First, you can pick as many choices as you want, but you can't undo or redo or change your vote after it's been cast. Not because I'm trying to be strict, but because I have no idea how to alter the pollcode code to undo a vote. I don't even think I can trace your votes, so I wouldn't be able to change your votes, because I don't know which are yours. SO CHOOSE WISELY.
Second rule, if there's something you really really really want to see deconstructed but it's not included in the list below, bring it up in comments. If there's a huge groundswell of support for it, we can add it to the decon list.
Third rule, since I've already shown a tendency to abuse my power, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone if I choose to override the democratic process, particularly in the case of any ties. The alternative would be to stage some kind of contest match wherein the "winner" is chosen by whoever can render the best hilarious original drawing of the work in question for a CafePress T-shirt or something. Let this be a lesson that I'm not above cheap theatrics.
Fourth rule, please pick for deconstruction something you would actually like to read. That might sound silly, but it's the comments and the reader discussion that keeps me on track with the posts.
Rules understood now? Let's meet the contestants:
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia and I have a history together, not unlike Ross and Rachel from Friends, but instead of us patching up after years of bad blood and heartbreak, I suspect instead that this particular deconstruction will be largely negative. Unlike my Twilight posts where I try (and usually fail) to be polite and to reign in the snark to acceptable levels, I'll likely show a lot more emotion and less restraint in any CoN deconstruction series. This is partly because the CoN author is long-dead and isn't likely to get his feelings hurt at this point, and partly because CoN was the first literary love that I can honestly remember, and it felt like an epic betrayal when some of the later books started to really delve deep into what I now perceive as racism, religious intolerance, and sexism, but as a child just perceived as very uncomfortable. If you like-or-love CoN and especially if you feel like older works should be judged by the standards of their source time period rather than by our modern standards, you probably won't like anything I have to say about this series.
Pros: Lots of possibilities to discuss racism, sexism, religious intolerance, the psychological breakdown of being an adult in a child's body, betrayal, and a society composed of gigantic animals that don't wear pants.As far as I know, a detailed deconstruction of this series doesn't really exist online, so we'd be breaking new ground.
Cons: Some readers may not appreciate having a cherished childhood series and/or theologian treated poorly by some know-it-all on the internet.
Method: Chapter-by-chapter across the 7 book series.
This is the video series, not the anime graphic novel (which is also good, or so I've heard, but I liked the video series and want to do it first). Husband brought home Claymore earlier in the year and I utterly loved it. I thought it was incredibly fresh, fun, and original - sort of like Dragonball Z (which I also enjoyed - that sucking sound you hear is all my coolness cred being pulled down the drain, I know) but with capable women, a much faster pace, and a lot less farting around between fights. The quick and dirty plot synopsis of the series is that monsters really do exist and a Super Secret Organization has found a way to infuse monster biology into human women in order to create super soldiers capable of fighting the monsters. The super soldiers are strong, fast, capable, and clever, but they're ultimately expendable warriors and almost all of them are doomed to die badly - either in battle or as a monster. The series is incredibly dark, and will utterly wreck you.
Pros: Lots of possibilities to discuss loss, loneliness, the dangers of devoting yourself mindlessly to a single entity or cause, the fear of becoming what you hate, and all the ways in which this series may or may not get sexuality completely wrong. (Discuss!)
Cons: Will almost certainly be positive in tone (although I promise to stop sounding like a gibbering fangurl), which is very nice for deconstructing interesting themes, but has less possible entertainment-by-snark value. Will be more enjoyable for people who have seen the series, which may be none of you. Probably the series is available on YouTube, but readers may not want to commit to watching the whole thing. Also, the series is remarkably violent - Anyone Can Die.
Method: Episodically across 26 episodes.
We've talked about Deathlands before, and they're still not available in eBook form, but since I'd rather review these from a bird-eye view, I think the quoting will be less necessary (therefore, transcription should be less of a problem). I like the Deathlands series, but I enjoy them ironically and I've been known to screech with rage when the heroes do stupid things for the sake of the plot or in order to maintain macho credibility. Any deconstruction I write will probably be negative in intent, but light-hearted in tone. I'm vaguely concerned that the fun may be diminished for you all if you haven't bothered to read the OMG 100 THAT'S-ONE-PLUS-TWO-PLUS-A-LOT series.
Tone: (Humorously) Negative.
Pros: Lots of possibilities to discuss racism, cliched manliness and womanliness, the assumptions that so often govern "after the end" apocalypse novels and why the men might not automatically rule us all with an iron fist, and the fun of parsing the fine difference between "morally ambiguous" and "being a jerk".
Cons: It's a 100 book series that may start to drag a bit on people who don't feel the need to commit to that level of effort. The writing is decidedly average and the books are almost deliberately derivative, so I don't expect people to follow along and would attempt to bring everyone up to speed such that they don't need to read the book to enjoy the deconstruction humor, but I'm not sure I'll succeed. Also, this will be a book-by-book series, so the time between posts may annoy you guys.
Method: Book-by-book over the 100 book series. Re-evaluation of whether or not to continue may occur every 10 or so books.
This is another anime series that I like, or at least that I want to like. The series is deeply introspective, but (in my opinion) extremely rushed at points and eventually seems rather hastily tied up - either because the show had been canceled or because the writers had completely run out of ideas (or at least, ideas that had a modicum of sense attached to them). As such, any deconstruction that comes out of this will be one part positive exploration of themes and two parts trying to suss out what, precisely, is going on. I think this would be a fun, interesting, thought-provoking challenge, but I also recognize that this may be one of those philosophical wank-fests that only a few people care about. Once again, probably most of you haven't seen this series, but also once again, there are probably YouTube videos of every single episode.
Pros: Lots of opportunities to explore philosophical questions of self, how much one's genetics determine one's essential being and personality (i.e., are we more than the sum of our parts), futuristic social dystopias, and the ethical treatment of adorable pet robots.
Cons: Obscure series that may not appeal to all readers, and at least some of the "philosophical" pieces may come off as a little reaching by the author. The last season goes completely off the rails, but potentially in a good way.
Method: Episodically across 23 episodes.
The Hunger Games
I hesitated to offer this one because almost all of you have probably read or at least heard of The Hunger Games already. Deconstructions of the series have already been done before, most notably by Mark of MarkReads and it's very likely that I wouldn't have anything valuable to add to the growing pile of praise and critical commentary building around the series. Furthermore, I realize that not all of you are in total enraptures with the series, and - in fairness - with good points to be made on that side. I am offering it up for this poll, though, because I do jaw on about the series from time to time (so it seems only fair), and I probably could lay down some interesting things to say on the series, especially as it stands in contrast to some other (nameless) popular YA series.
Pros: Interesting contrasts provided in terms of survival ethics, humane methods of war, unreliable narration, and love triangles between deeply conflicted characters propelled by very different motives and life views.
Cons: A similar deconstruction / in-depth review has been done before in an extremely competent manner; some of you may be sick of The Hunger Games and might like the internets to take a break from the subject, at least until we get some distance from the whole thing.
Method: Chapter-by-chapter over the three book series, and possibly with excerpts from The Girl Who Was On Fire selection of essays.
The Path is an indie video game that takes the "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale story and goes completely off the rails with it. It's not a particularly good game in the sense that it's fun, interesting, or exciting to play - almost all of the gameplay involves running around a scary dark empty forest looking for the next item that will trigger a cutscene, but the endings for each of the six sisters are extremely dark, disturbing, and full of hidden meaning just waiting to be sussed out. Fans of the game adore it for its Wild Mass Guessing and Epileptic Trees - and the developers definitely enjoy fan-baiting with their posts that all fan-explanations are correct in their own way. To give you an idea: just one of the endings has been theorized to mean everything from being an oldest child in a large family, to committing suicide over lost artistic ambitions, to frustration with excessive housework, to discovering a budding interest in lesbianism.
Pros: Interesting opportunities to explore the hidden meanings within a heavily symbolic framework, including dark coming-of-age themes and a very scary, oppressive architecture to work with.
Cons: The fan theories around this game (and mine in general) will include some pretty graphic violence, rape, death, loss, pain, and so forth. The game is certainly "fun" in the "what the heck does this symbolize" sense, but not "fun" in the light-hearted happy tone sense. Seriously, even one of the paths available has more dark symbolism and scary elements than the entire Twilight series as a whole. Also, some people might be put off by the philosophical navel gazing.
Method: 6 girls, 6 paths, 6 posts.
I'm conflicted about adding this one because (a) it's a currently unfinished trilogy, (b) it's by a brand new author and I try not to criticize new authors too harshly, and (c) I'm not 100% sure how well this will work out as a deconstruction. The plot in a nutshell is that humankind has been ravaged by a plague that causes everyone to drop dead on or before their 25th birthday, and oh-by-the-way only North America exists now. The book is interesting and handles some themes well, but my biggest pet peeve is that the ambitious world-building is never fully explored and doesn't impact the plot in nearly the same way I would expect. This is here by "popular" demand, by which I mean exactly one person asked for it. But that means 10 people wanted it but didn't ask for it - according to my Internet math - so it's here for you to vote on!
Tone: Probably negative.
Pros: A lot of opportunities to discuss world building and how it can and should impact the plot overall, as well as the moral ambiguity implied in a situation where finding a cure for humanity may well mean the survival of the species, plus the sexual and social implications of a polygamous society where the wives are not willing participants.
Cons: The book represents a lot of common ground in YA today including a somewhat anemic love triangle and SPECIAL GLITTERY EYES. I'm not against starting another deconstruction series with that in mind, but the whole thing may end up feeling rather derivative of the Twilight posts. (Which may be precisely what you guys want!)
Method: Chapter-by-chapter over the three book series.
Update 1: Okay, part of my post has been lost. Please wait while I describe The Path and Wither. *sheepish*
Update 2: Alright, everything is up now! Looks like when Blogger had that hiccup last week, they rolled this post back to an earlier version. I'm pretty sure I had something terribly witty and awesome to sum up here, but it's gone forever and you'll all have to be tormented by the fact that you missed out on my incredible wit and wisdom. Hopefully we'll all be able to sleep at night anyway. *grins* Now vote away!
Update 3: The poll is closed! More details here.