Weekly Meeting: Killing Mr. Griffin

Killing Mr. Griffin
Killing Mr. GriffinKilling Mr. Griffin

Part of Which Challenges

  • Technically, part of the Book Lust challenge, but listed in Book Crush.

What you should know:

  • This is a YA suspense novel
  • It was originally published in 1978
  • If you read a current edition you may notice a few changes

October is officially over.  Here in Lowell, things are moving quickly.  Cedric Doggery has been part of the family for 2 months.  I have started NaNoWriMo and am writing my own mystery novel.  The Fall semester of classes are almost done, the holidays are almost here, and we are 2 months away from the new year.  This is the time of year when I start taking stock of how much I accomplished and what I want to do next year.

First, though, a few things about Killing Mr. Griffin.  I read a lot of teenage suspense and horror books.  I say suspense because a lot of them were more about teenagers being killers.  Christopher Pike, R.L. Stein, and Lois Duncan were all on that list.  Many of Duncan’s ignored because they were written in the late 70s, in an age that didn’t fit with my world view.  Apparently someone is updating them.  As I read Killing Mr. Griffin I kept noticing mentions of cell phones and Google.  It was clear that someone went through and made some changes to make the book more relevant.  Other things were left to the side.  It was little thing.  One character mentioned a phonebook and another (the class president of all people) didn’t have a cellphone.

It got me thinking about the need to change books marketed to teenagers.  Was I not guilty of skipping most of Duncan’s titles when I was a teenager because, in the early 90s, it was already outdated?  Should we update these books, books about presumably real life, to maintain relevance?  How far do we go?  Do we need to re-write these books entirely?  Do we have to make sure that we both mention modern convinces, but that our teenager characters act like teenagers?

This is not so much an issue for dystopian futures, science fiction, or historical fictions.  This is a problem for books about modern teenagers doing modern things.  Even fantasy stories that happen in this world, vampire books for example, can quickly become out dated.

In this case it didn’t ruin the story to have these brief mentions, but it did illicit an eye roll as I listened.  Has anyone else noticed this with YA books?  Is it a thing?

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