A New Term For Me
In the November 28th issue of The New Yorker (Yeah, that's right. I'm behind in my reading. What else is new?) Tom Reiss writes about "invasion novels." In "Imagining the Worst" Reiss describes the history of this literary genre I'd read but never actually heard described in those words.
According to Reiss, invasion novels appear to have been particularly popular in England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The public held them in high regard not as literature but as cautionary tales. This was before the days of H. G. Wells. The alien invaders weren't from outer space but from more mundane places like Germany.
Invasion novels exist in the kidlit world, also. The two that come immediately to my mind are When the Tripods Came and how i live now.
When the Tripods Came by John Christopher is a bit of a War of the Worlds knockoff, though I did enjoy it more than the trilogy for which it is a sequel.
The much more recent how i live now by Meg Rosoff won the 2005 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature. The book has been discussed just this past week at the adbooks listserv.
Some of us who post there really liked this book. However, a few of the professors who've assigned the book to their undergraduates have found younger readers less enthusiastic. A person at adbooks who runs a young adult reading book had a similar experience with some of her readers. Many of these readers are fixating on a certain relationship in the book.
I have to admit, if I hadn't heard ahead of time that the relationship would be there, I might have been shocked and turned off by it, too. I definitely don't think it was necessary for the story, and it's unfortunate that it's there since it seems to be a stumbling block for readers.
Today I stopped at my local library to try to snag a copy of the book so I could force it on the college students who are hanging at my house during semester break so I could see what they thought of it. Unfortunately, the book was checked out so my plot came to nothing.
I will try again another time.