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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Harry Dresden - For Teenagers?

I'm about a quarter of the way into Storm Front, book one of the Harry Dresden Files, and I wanted to answer a question posed by Maureen, who wants to know about its suitability for junior high/high school readers.

It didn't take long to get the answer to that question. Keep in mind that I believe in each parent deciding what their kids can read or watch, so don't take my comments as gospel truth on this. Here we go:

I'm really enjoying the book so far as a light, entertaining read. But I wouldn't be able to read this book to my eighth grade class because of some pretty graphic crime scene details that occur early in the book. It's graphic not only in its description of the state of the murder victims, but also in what the victims were doing when they died. In other words, if this book were made into a movie, this crime scene alone would give the movie an "R" rating.

That doesn't mean teens shouldn't read it. I think the story is just the kind of thing a teenager would enjoy. But a parent should probably read it first to see if their teen could handle it. I'm not going to give it to my seventh grade boy to read, and I'm not even sure if I would give to my freshman. I have to wait until I get finished with the book to know for sure.

Sometimes a book has a such a great message and is so deep that graphic violence or sexual content can be tolerated, if it's an integral part of the story. Storm Front doesn't strike me as that kind of book yet, but as I said earlier, I'm only a fourth of the way through it.

There's a bit of rough language, but so far nothing you wouldn't hear in a PG-13 movie, and the plot is engaging. Storm Front has been described as Philip Marlowe meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I think of it more as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell meets The X-Files. And maybe that's a good comparison for its suitability for teens: if you let your teens watch The X-Files, you would probably be ok with them reading Storm Front.

I'll write more about Harry after I've finished the book.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:11 AM

Comments on "Harry Dresden - For Teenagers?"


Blogger Julie D. said ... (Wednesday, June 06, 2007 9:08:00 AM) : 

The teenagers that I have lent it to were all in that halcyon summer period between high school and college. Even then I felt a qualm, but figured that they were going to be in COLLEGE and it turns out that they have been exposed to things that loomed larger in their minds as worse in the year that followed (movies, roommates' behavior, etc.).

The earlier books tend to have more of that sort of thing than the later ones in which the plot is the thing wherein to catch the reader (If I may completely mangle a quote). :-)


Anonymous Maureen said ... (Thursday, June 07, 2007 5:56:00 AM) : 

Hey Nick,

Thanks for the descriptive "heads up"! My teen readers are 12, 13 and 14 ..... they love Tolkien's books but the Big Reader handed a stack of Lawhead books back to me with the comment, "Too gory Mom....I don't even think I should be reading this." And any kind of sexual violence isn't even on their radar yet!

I appreciate you pointing out this book's red flags for younger teen readers.



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